The harrowing image of Omran Daqneesh, the 5-year-old Syrian boy whose home was hit by an airstrike, served as a reminder of the horrors of the raging Syrian civil war. A video of Omran clinging to the person who pulled him from the rubble was widely shared on social media, as was the haunting photo of him sitting in the back of an ambulance, covered in dust and blood.
Among those who saw the images of Omran is Alex, a 6-year-old boy from Scarsdale, New York. Alex was so moved by Omran's ordeal that he wrote to President Obama inviting Omran to live with his family.
"Can you please get him and bring him to our home?" Alex wrote in his letter. "We will give him a family and he will be our brother."
This week, Obama read Alex's letter as part of a speech he gave at the United Nations Refugee Summit in New York City. Obama praised Alex, holding him up as an example of the humanity that children are capable of, "who hasn't learned to be cynical or suspicious or fearful of other people because of where they're from or how they look or how they pray."
The White House later posted a video of Alex reading his letter on social media to overwhelming response. At the time of writing, the video has racked up more than 8.7 million views and many users have posted emotional comments.
Now in its fifth year, the Syrian war has destroyed once-bustling cosmopolitan cities like Aleppo — where Omran is from, the center of the refugee crisis — as well as its historical sites. The war has created a horrendous humanitarian crisis. 4.8 million Syrians are refugees. Another 6.5 million are displaced within the country, and 13.5 million are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
As Secretary of State John Kerry scrambles to salvage the latest ceasefire in Syria, Russia and the U.S. are set to discuss efforts to push for an end to the devastating conflict at the UNGA. Meanwhile, earlier this week, Obama extracted pledges from as many as 50 nations to take in 360,000 refugees this year.
Watch the White House's video here: