There are plenty of stories about the horrors in Aleppo. Syria's ongoing civil war has reduced the once-modern, bustling city to a place of carnage and destruction. The 300,000 remaining people in Aleppo live in constant fear of bombing; the city's largest hospital has been targeted by airstrikes for three consecutive days, following a short-lived ceasefire. While reports continue to pour in about the war, a 7-year-old girl, Bana Alabed, is reportedly tweeting from Aleppo, giving the international community a personal account of what it's like to live at the center of one of the most dire humanitarian crises today.
Bana's tweets are real-time updates about the situation in Aleppo. She also shares videos and photos of her family and buildings around her home that have been struck by bombs. Bana tweets in English with the help of her mother, Fatemah, according to her Twitter account's bio section. Fatemah also frequently sends out the tweets under her own name.
When asked why the Twitter account was set up, Fatemah said, "Bana asked me why is the world not hearing us? Why is nobody helping us?" She also told BBC that her daughter "wants the world to hear our voice."
At 7, most of Bana's memories of her childhood are associated with the war, now in its fifth year. Her mother told The Guardian that she has become increasingly withdrawn and distracted, and amid the constant bombing, she rarely gets even four hours of sleep at night. Bana wants to go to school and play outside, Fatemah said, but it's too dangerous — she can only sit at home and draw, or play with the neighbors' children.
The latest ceasefire in Syria came to an abrupt, early end after humanitarian supplies were bombed, with the U.S. blaming Russia for the raid. Since then, the violence has escalated. According to UNICEF, at least 96 children have been killed and 223 have injured in Eastern Aleppo in the past two weeks. Medical equipment and personnel have dwindled as the number of patients increase.
"The children of Aleppo are trapped in a living nightmare. There are no words left to describe the suffering they are experiencing," said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth in the statement. "Nothing can justify such assaults on children and such total disregard for human life. The suffering — and the shock among children — is definitely the worst we have seen."
As the U.S. announced that it has formally suspended talks with Russia on Syria because of the Aleppo raid, humanitarian organizations continue to scramble for solutions to help those trapped in Aleppo and other besieged cities. And perhaps Bana's heart-wrenching tweets can serve to highlight the disastrous toll that this war is exacting on Syria's children, if not act as the impetus for the international community to put sustained pressure on their leaders to come up with solutions.