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“We are the child”: Barrel bombs in Syria

Children suffer death and injury due to barrel bombs, as well as losing their families, homes and schools
Children suffer death and injury due to barrel bombs, as well as losing their families, homes and schools

This week, the Global Peace Index again identified Syria as the world's least peaceful country. In today's guest blog, Kim reflects on children killed, injured or otherwise affected by the use of barrel bombs in Syria, and how a Twitter campaign using the hashtag “We are the child” is seeking to draw attention to this brutal method of warfare.

The use of barrel bombs has been increasing in Syria over the past few months and many of the victims have been children. Across Twitter an Arabic hashtag which translates as ‘We are the child; you are the barrel’ has been used over 5,000 times in an expression of solidarity and an attempt to raise awareness of this awful situation.

Ensuring compliance

Barrel bombs have been banned by a UN Resolution, but their use in Syria continues. The bombs comprise various pieces of rubble, scrap metal and explosives crammed into an empty vessel and then launched from helicopters. The Syrian regime regime has been criticised for flouting the UN resolution and continuing to use barrel bombs, something they deny, but which satellite imagery seems to verify.

The especially brutal reality of barrel bombs is that they kill indiscriminately and are hugely destructive when dropped into the centre of a city such as Aleppo. The UN has been criticised for allowing China and Russia to delay the passing of this resolution. Now that the resolution has been unanimously passed and is in place, the international community needs to ensure the Syrian government is compliant.

“You are the barrel”

Attacks of this nature and their aftermath always have a disproportionately devastating effect on children – whether they lose their home, their school, a parent or even their own life as a result. The number of children killed as a result of barrel bombs being dropped on Aleppo and Daraa has alarmed people in Syria who have taken to Twitter to express their fear and concern.

“We are the children; you are the barrel” could be seen to be both aimed at the Syrian regime and the wider world. It is an expression of frustration and helplessness – Syrians are appalled at what is happening under the regime but can do little to help their own situation. Maybe the rest of the world is in some way akin to the barrel by letting this happen and needs to find new ways to address the crisis.

To respond to this cry from Syria, a country which has suffered so greatly over the past four years, we can petition our governments to apply political pressure to Assad’s regime, and we can do everything in our power to support children, their families and communities in Syria.

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