The new Pokémon game is taking the world by storm, where millions of players around the world are searching everywhere to find Pokémon characters.
But some people are starting to really wonder, what if we turn attention away for this game, and instead to the actual sufferings of children in war-torn Syria? In response, Syrian children have been pictured with Pokémon characters as a plea to the world to come to their rescue.
Here’s the story behind the photo above, taken in Syria by Abeer Etefa, who works for the UN World Food Programme:
" I was surprised when I saw a Pokémon pop up in this photo I took in 2012. I could never forget this boy. I met him in Homs, on my first trip to Syria after the war broke out. I was startled by the sounds of nearby shelling and he ran to me, held my hand, and told me not to be afraid because he is an expert now and knows the shelling is not very close to us.
He and his family had just returned, after months of fighting, to their ruined home -- but in his words, he said: “It is damaged, but it is still home, and I am happy to be back.” His only wish was to go back to school and have a normal life again.
He is one of many Syrians who have touched my heart. His picture has become an iconic image of the war in Syria and the millions of children whose lives were shattered in the last six years. "
The pictures of the Pokemon characters – like Pikachus, Squirtles, and Weedles – also carried captions that identified the child from a particular town or village in a rebel-held area in northwest Syria with a plea to be rescued from there.
There are tons of organizations that are working day and night to make the lives of these unfortunate a bit more pleasant, but do you really think that even these many will be enough to support the lives of 13.5 million people that are imploring for humanitarian assistance. Families are struggling to survive inside Syria, or make a new home in neighboring countries. Others are risking their lives on the way to Europe, hoping to find acceptance and opportunity. And harsh winters and hot summers make life as a refugee even more difficult. At times, the effects of the conflict can seem overwhelming; according to the U.N., it will take $7.7 billion to meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable Syrians in 2016.
If you are reading this, you represent the 20% of the world population that can actually make a difference, if you choose to do so. The campaign has been no blame to the game but is merely using it s a tool pleading people of the world to look at the bigger picture of life and humanity.
So the next time when you are at Dubai Mall or any other Pokémon frenzy places swiping on your mobile screens trying to catch your most awaited Pokémon, do give a thought to these young lives wanting to be rescued from he shackles of savagery.
To donate towards the United Nations Syrian refuge visit: https://donate.unhcr.org/gu-en/syria/