News reports on the five year old Syrian child Omran Daqneesh who was dragged from beneath the rubble of his home in the city of Aleppo have dominated global news broadcasts during the past two days. Images of his innocent face stained with blood and dust have dominated the front pages of newspapers and magazines all around the world. The images have resulted in unprecedented pressure to put an end to the crisis in Syria that has been ongoing since 2011. Perhaps this may be in sight with the introduction of a weekly 48-hour “humanitarian pause” in the fighting in Aleppo to allow food and medicine to reach civilians in the eastern neighbourhoods of the city that are controlled by opposition factions.
Photos and videos of Syrian children crying in distress have flooded social media for a long time. However, the way that Omran reacted; his silence and the shock that could be seen on his face had an impact on global public opinion and pushed activists around the world to raise their voices and demand an end to what Syrian civilians face on a daily basis.
In the video clip that was circulated by activists and then the world’s media, the numbness and great shock that Omran feels can be seen after he is escorted into an ambulance and left there by a nurse so that he can continue his search operation for people under the rubble. Omran did not shed a tear or utter a word, and only wiped the blood that covered his face with his hand before calmly inspecting it and then wiping it on the seat.
Later, the nurse who treated Omran said that he did not cry whilst receiving treatment, but burst into tears after seeing his mother and father. The nurse said that he was in a daze as a result of shock and did not utter a word apart from asking about his parents who were rescued after he was. It was only when he saw them that he began to cry.
The doctors said that Omran suffered from head injuries and was treated before he was discharged from hospital. The photographer who filmed Omran in the ambulance Mahmoud Raslan, 27, said “I have taken lots of photos of children who have been killed or injured as a result of daily raids. They usually lose consciousness or scream, but Omran sat there silently, staring in a bewildered manner as if he did not understand what had happened to him”.
Raslan added that he heard the sound of a raid at around 7.15pm and immediately headed to the site that was being bombed. He said that “it was completely dark but I saw a building that had been totally destroyed and another that was partially destroyed”. The partially destroyed building that he was referring to was where Omran and his family lived in Aleppo’s Qaterji district.
In a statement that he made to the US TV channel CNN, Raslan said that the process to dig Omran out from underneath the rubble took nearly an hour. After that, paramedics rescued his brother (five years old), two sisters (aged eight and 11) and then the children’s father and mother. All of them survived the attack.