World's not doing enough for Syrian kids: Aleppo girl

Worlds not doing enough for Syrian kids: Aleppo girl

Dubai - According to the latest figures from Unicef, 5.6 million Syrian children remain in need of humanitarian assistance.



By Sarwat Nasir

Published: Sun 24 Mar 2019, 10:05 PM

Last updated: Mon 25 Mar 2019, 12:12 AM

"My name is Bana, I'm 7 years old. I am talking to the world now live from East #Aleppo. This is my last moment to either live or die." This was the first tweet a young Syrian girl, Bana Al Abed, sent out during a siege in the midst of the Syrian civil war in September 2016.
Her powerful tweets made her a worldwide sensation, as she shed light on the horrors that were taking place in war-torn Aleppo. She became the voice of Syrian people with her tweets revealing how she lost her home and ran out of food and water. At the same time, she encouraged others not to lose hope.
Today, Al Abed - now nine years old - is safe, living happily in Turkey where she was granted citizenship in 2017. She's with her family, she has friends, and she's getting an education.
On Sunday, Al Abed moved the audience at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, where she spoke about how she watched children die in front of her eyes and how important education is for the Syrian youth.
"My life was so hard. Sometimes, I couldn't sleep at night because of the bombings. I was always seeing children dying in front of my eyes. I was scared to lose one of my family. I was sick, there were no hospitals or medicines. I had no water for two days.
"We lived in siege, and many children are still suffering there. I had no choice, I wanted to tell the story with the world," she said.
"The death of the children is my biggest problem - I wish someone could do something. I wish my friend was still here. What did she do deserve that? She was just a child. Every child deserves to live in peace. I am a child and I have free time to play, but I also want to use my voice for the people in my country."
According to the latest figures from Unicef, 5.6 million Syrian children remain in need of humanitarian assistance, 1.7 million youth, aged five to 17, are out of school, and nearly 20,000 kids under the age of five are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died since the start of the civil war in 2011. It caused one of the biggest refugee crisis in history, as millions sought and continued to seek asylum in countries around the world.
The US recently announced that Daesh no longer holds any territory in Syria, however, foreign media has reported that they continue to see airstrikes and hear heavy gunfire in the eastern part of the country.
"War teaches us that peace is important in our lives. Peace is the most powerful thing in the world. It's a great honour to be here and be the voice of children.
"War has destroyed everything in my country and education is one of them. Many children never went to school and others have to work for their families so they can get food. The world is not doing enough for education in Syria and that means a lost generation of children. Education is the last hope for Syria," Al Abed said.
"I was feeling really sad that I had no friends anymore and I stayed alone. I didn't want the children to die, I wanted to help."
Al Abed told Khaleej Times that she wants to be a teacher when she grows up and hopes to return to Syria and rebuild her country.
She recently published a book, titled Dear World, where she tells her story in detail. She has also done many of the illustrations in the book.
sarwat@khaleejtimes.com


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