Breaking News Emails
Here's a gut check for the West.
A little boy sits holding a picture of the well known Pokemon character, Pikachu, looking beyond the camera, for what seems like a thousand yards. Some might take it as a stare of longing for a new plush toy and if the child was anywhere other than his home country of Syria, it might have been just that.
The young boy though, is holding the image as part of a campaign by the Revolution Forces of Syria, to raise awareness about the desperate condition of Syrian children. The group decided to exploit the Pokemon Go craze to connect people to the issue. More than five years of bloody conflict, airstrikes and food shortages have robbed this country's kids of a play-filled childhood.
"We want to raise awareness and draw attention to the plight of Syrian children in besieged areas and the suffering of Syrian people who are attacked and killed by Assad regime and its allies," RFS Social Media Editor, Mahmod Abo Bakr said in a text conversation.
"Syrian children are victims of the war and the brutal and indiscriminate attacks that are carried out on a daily basis by regime and Russian jets. The Syrian children are paying the price for the international inaction to stop the Assad killing machine."
Yet, the fighting continues and the mass diaspora from Syria to other countries, continues. The country has seen about five million citizens flee the relentless bombing. RFS started posting the photos Thursday and they immediately gained traction on social media. The group is calling to action those in the international community and political leaders.
"The first step to save Syrian children is to stop Assad and Russian indiscriminate bombings," Abo Bakr said. "Then to lift sieges on Syrian towns. And we want every one to put pressure on their governments do something about this."
A study released earlier this year documented the impact of air bombardments on children in the war-torn state. The study found that for the period between March 2011 and January 2015 over 78,000 people died violent deaths. About 4,000 of those deaths were children who died in air bombardments, as reported by NBC News.
The numbers and now the images are devastating.
"We will keep trying to incite the world to stop Assad killing machine," Abo Bakr said. "We are talking about 7 or 8 years [old] children whom don'y [sic] know what is Pokemon is!! Imagine their lives if there is no response, no change to policy or action taken to stop the bombing!! They are dying in different ways from the brutal and indiscriminate attacks that Assad and his allies doing every day from cold in winter, hot in summer or starved. And after all of this, if there is no action, we can say RIP humanity."