Omran Daqneesh is among the lucky ones — rescued alive after his home was turned to rubble in a bombing.
But the photos and video of him, wounded and covered in dust yet sitting so silently, reveal a deeper truth.
When you look at Omran’s face, this bloodied, impassive face, it hits you that the boy is so traumatized that even as he pulled his hand away with his own blood, he doesn’t react, he just doesn’t respond. This is now what it looks like to be lucky, as a child, in Syria.
To be lucky means that you are pulled out of the rubble after a 45-minute search. You’ve been alone, in the dark, but you’re pulled out alive.
In that moment of seeing Omran, so many of us were reminded of the image of another Syrian little boy, Aylan Kurdi, who wasn’t lucky. The image of Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless three-year-old body being brought out of the Mediterranean sea last year. He drowned with his mother and brother as the family tried to reach Europe.
At the time, I think we all thought that that has to be the most difficult of choices: either stay in Syria, stay under the bombardment and the barrel bombs, stay inside the besieged zones or leave and risk the sea, risk the crossing, risk that your child is not going to make it to the other side alive.
But now when we speak to parents inside Aleppo and other besieged cities in Syria, they tell us it’s not a choice any more. Even that choice — as stark as it is — is no longer available to parents inside Syria because they feel that Europe has closed its doors to them.