June 20, 2020 / 11:38 AM / 19 days ago

Nine years of war. Nine portraits of kids who dream of home

ATMEH CAMP, Syria (Reuters) - Four-month-old Abdul Rahman, propped up on pillows on a blue blanket in his family’s tent. Two-year-old Walid, striking a boxer’s pose in the center of the mat.

Rawan al-Aziz, six-year-old displaced Syrian child, from Southern Idlib countryside, poses for a picture in a tent at Atmeh camp, near the Turkish border, Syria June 19, 2020. Picture taken June 19, 2020. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Nine-year-old Ranim, who has never known peace, her bare feet poking out from beneath an embroidered red dress.

Nine photos of child refugee for nine years of war.

Reuters assigned Syrian photographer Khalil Ashawi to illustrate World Refugee Day, which is on Saturday.

He went to the Atmeh camp for displaced people on the Syrian-Turkish border, where families have been sheltering since 2011 from a conflict that has made half of Syrians homeless.

He illustrated each of the war’s nine years with a simple picture: a refugee child born in that year. Each poses in a tent, each alone, apart from eight-year-old Jumana and her twin brother Farhan.

“Every kid represents a year in the uprising. Every kid narrates a story and they each have their unique story of the war,” Ashawi explained. “These kids don’t know the meaning of a home, some don’t know or have forgotten that a house has a wall and a door.”

For those children old enough to talk, Ashawi asked each the same question: what is home?

Six-year-old Rawan, in a patterned dress, said she still remembers her house “built in the old fashioned way” in south Idlib.

“A house for me is a place where my friends and family are. I brought my toys with me but it’s not nice here at all,” she said. “A tent is not a house, because it might catch fire and it might fly with the wind.”

Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Mike Collett-White

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