Seven years in the eyes of a child

Monday 26 March 2018

The damaged schools that children in Syria once learned in and the abandoned parks where young friends spent joyful times have been visited by viewers in Lebanon over a 100 kilometres away, with a pair of Virtual Reality glasses.

A social experiment by Save the Children in Lebanon marking the seventh anniversary of the Syria Crisis has brought the horror that children in the war-torn country face on a daily basis.

Titled ‘’A virtual peek inside Syria through the eyes of a child,” the experiment used Virtual Reality technology to reveal the scale of damage in one of the areas prescribed as ‘de-escalation zones’ in Syria, where in fact children continue to suffer from persistent bombings and lack of sufficient food, medical care and access to schools.

Looking through the 3D VR glasses, people in Beirut were able to examine a 360 video of bombed-out buildings and houses and virtually walk down the empty streets. The clip shows a school that has been damaged and a swing in an abandoned playground.

One viewer who watched the clip said, “I have just seen something frightening. If children were to go there when there is no safety- it is a place where children cannot grow up, surely not in such conditions where there is no education or protection. It’s hardship”

Save the Children Country Director in Lebanon, Allison Zelkowitz said, “It is a sad moment to be marking another year of suffering for millions of Syrian children, particularly those trapped within the country. It is heartbreaking to think that for many of those children, all they have ever know if war, violence, and destruction.

“Children not only need security and peace, but they also need nutritious food, safe homes, and access to education. These essentials are not currently available for children in Syria, and it would be unreasonable for us to expect refugee children to return to such conditions.’’

A new report by Save the Children has revealed record levels of displacement inside Syria since July 2017, with up to 250 children fleeing every hour, while civilian casualties increased by 45 percent since the creation of ‘de-escalation zones’ including in Idlib and Eastern Ghouta.

Lebanon has meanwhile done a tremendous job hosting over one million Syrian refugees and offering humanitarian support that children desperately need. More than 250,000 Syrian children are enrolled in public school, although almost 300,000 are still out of school.

“Lebanon hosts more Syrian refugees per capita than any other country,” Zelkowitz added. “We appreciate the great efforts that the Lebanese government and hosting communities have made to help, and we ask for their continued compassion and support to ensure refugee children are protected until their homes in Syria are truly safe again.”

You can watch the full 360 VR video on our YouTube channel here and viewers’ reaction here with a collection of photos from the event.