A truly distressing portrait of young Syrian girl raising her arms in an act of surrender has made the rounds on the Internet since last week. The caption explained that the scared child mistook the camera to be a deadly weapon and gave up, fearfully throwing her hands in the air.
The image first surfaced when a journalist Nadia Abu Shaban shared it on her Twitter account, gaining massive response from the social media users. The terror in the girl’s eyes was so perceptible and heartbreaking that the photo soon went viral.
Shaban later clarified that she had not taken the picture herself, which led to people accusing the photo of being staged and fake.
However, after someone traced the photo to a Turkish journalist Osman Sagirli, BBC tracked the photographer down to confirm its origin. As it turns out, the photo is indeed authentic and was taken at the Atmeh refugee camp in Syria last year in December. The girl in the picture is a 4-year-old named Hudea.
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"I was using a telephoto lens, and she thought it was a weapon. I realized she was terrified after I took it, and looked at the picture, because she bit her lips and raised her hands. Normally kids run away, hide their faces or smile when they see a camera,” he said. "You know there are displaced people in the camps. It makes more sense to see what they have suffered not through adults, but through children. It is the children who reflect the feelings with their innocence."
The fact that children are the ones most affected by the atrocities of war can be proven by the dread evident on little girl’s face.
Sangirli has been covering war and natural disasters for a Turkish newspaper for over 25 years and is currently in Tanzania.