An image of a heavily scarred Syrian baby whose mother was killed in an artillery barrage launched by government forces has sparked an outpouring of sympathy on Twitter and other social media platforms.
The three-month-old child, known only by his first name, Karim, lost his left eye and suffered wounds to his skull in the attacks on the besieged Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta.
A portrait of Karim by the Syrian refugee artist, Fares Jasem, which shows a rose covering the child’s scars, helped raise social media awareness about the boy’s plight, with some describing him as a symbol of the suffering children in Syria have undergone since the civil war started in 2011.
As the social media campaign took hold, Twitter users posted pictures of themselves with a hand covering one eye.
Those taking part included Bana al-Abed, a Syrian refugee who rose to international prominence for her tweets and video blogs from the city of Aleppo during the fighting between rebels and government troops there in 2016.
— Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) December 19, 2017
Others included the British permanent representative to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, who featured in a photo published by the British Foreign Office covering one eye.
Speaking at the UN on Tuesday, Rycroft said Russia should use its influence over the Syrian government to help the entry of food and other supplies into Eastern Ghouta, as well as allowing the evacuation of the injured.
“It’s just a thirty minute journey from Eastern Ghouta to Damascus to receive treatment,” he said, adding: “It really is a matter of life and death.”
ماثيو رايكروفت: حين نجتمع في #مجلس_الأمن ونحذر بأن عدم اتخاذ إجراء يعني وفاة مزيد من الناس، وقصف مزيد من المدارس، وتشويه مزيد من الأطفال.. فهذا هو ما نعنيه.
يجب إنهاء قصف وحصار #الغوطة_الشرقية. pic.twitter.com/aOxT8mhBTW
— 🇬🇧وزارة الخارجية والتنمية البريطانية (@FCDOArabic) December 19, 2017
Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Hakan Cavusoglu, also weighed in on the campaign, emphasising his country’s opposition to the Syrian government over the targeting of civilians.
“While the world was playing three monkeys over Syria, Turkey always stood by (babies like) Karim, as well as other oppressed people,” he said.
Solidarity with Karim …
Civil Defense teams and men in the #Alatarip #Aleppo are united with the #karim of the child who lost his eye and his mother in the bombing of a criminal from the criminal gangs Lion in the #Ghouta#SolidarityWithKarim pic.twitter.com/HGAz8qLwzj
— mohamed aldamashqi(محمد الدمشقي) (@mohamedsyrian10) December 18, 2017
Karim’s image is not the first image of a child victim of Syria’s war to go viral and drum up such outpouring of sympathy.
In August 2016, the image of a boy, plucked from the rubble, sitting expressionless in the back of an ambulance after an air raid in Aleppo, became emblematic of the Syrian government’s campaign of aerial bombardment.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor of Syria’s war, puts the total number of casualties from Syria’s war at around 500,000 people.