civil war
in Syria

Since 2011, when violent civil war erupted in Syria, over 12 million people have been forced to flee their homes, seeking safety for themselves and their families either elsewhere in Syria or outside their homeland. That figure represents more than half the country’s pre-war population of around 21 million and exceeds the total population of such countries as Portugal, Belgium, Bolivia and Tunisia. Roughly half of those fleeing are children.


Nizar carried his strength.

  • Age:5
  • Item Carried:Spiderman costume
  • Fled From:Hama, Syria
  • Fled To:Kirikhan, Turkey

“I couldn’t take all my toys, because the jet was coming very fast,” recalls five-year-old Nizar. As his mother was rushing to pack, Nizar saw his beloved superhero costume. “I put Spiderman in the bag and we went – all of us. We went by car and we went by road.”

When the plane was coming and bombing, I was scared. I was younger then.

Leila carried her dreams.

  • Age:22
  • Item Carried:Fashion books
  • Fled From:Kobane, Syria
  • Fled To:Sanliurfa, Turkey

“When we were sitting at home a rocket came from the middle of nowhere. In just a few moments another one came - a big rocket. This was the time we thought, we didn’t have to do anything – just run away.”

It is my dream to one day study fashion design. My home town, Kobane, has such an amazing fashion culture – I want the world to see it.

Radwan carried his hope.

  • Age:24
  • Item Carried:Computer Tools
  • Fled From:Aleppo, Syria
  • Fled To:Nizip, Turkey

“The hard thing was constant airstrikes bombing you, and tanks in front of you, rockets and shelling. The crossing was very hard. We were with hundreds of people on the border and waited two days to cross into Turkey.”

We don’t want to leave our homes. It was a matter of life and death. Every time I use my tools I feel hope for the future – life will keep going on.

Zakaria carried his memories.

  • Age:40
  • Item Carried:Brother's t-shirt
  • Fled From:Hama, Syria
  • Fled To:Kirikhan, Turkey

I was a painter and decorator in Syria, and from that work I bought a men’s clothes shop. It was going well. One day the shelling came early in the morning. I took my family to the basement, until they gave us one hour to leave the village.”

I hope my children's future is better than ours. I hope God sends them nicer days. Better than the life we left.

Mohamed carried health

  • Age:24
  • Item Carried:Medical notes
  • Fled From:Aleppo City, Syria
  • Fled To:Kirikhan, Turkey

After suffering a brain injury in an accident when he was 18, Mohamed needs constant supervision. As fighters shouted at civilians, “Everybody out!” Fatima gathered Mohamed’s medical reports, unsure of what sort of treatment would be available for her son as they moved into the unknown.

The last contact I had with my husband was two hours before he went missing,” says Mohamed’s mother, Fatima. “He said he was waiting for his truck to be loaded. His phone never worked again."

Mona carried her future

  • Age:48
  • Item Carried:House key
  • Fled From:Aleppo, Syria
  • Fled To:Nizip, Turkey

Civilians in an ISIS stronghold, Mona and her family endured constant airstrikes.

When Mona had to leave her family’s farm in rural Aleppo she looked at the furniture lovingly selected over decades of marriage and realized there was only one thing she could take with her: The keys to her front door.

I look at them often to remember my home... When I see them sometimes I wish I was back there.

The Things We Carry

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