Fighting continues to rage on in Syria, where the United Nations says nearly 100,000 people have been displaced since early December. The conflict has put many children — including two Syrian sisters — in danger.
BBC News’ Caroline Hawley reports that Qamar, one of the girls, hardly remembers the day that changed her life. She was only three years old when a shell crashed into the kids’ bedroom of their home in the Syrian city of Homs, setting her on fire. That was six years ago. After the incident, she needed help dressing and feeding herself because her hands were damaged, and she couldn’t look at herself in the mirror.
Qamar’s family fled to neighboring Jordan, where, when she was 4 years old, she had surgery at a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital. Two years later, she wore a mask to allow another skin graft to heal.
Rahaf, Qamar’s sister, also suffered burns, and neither of the girls would leave the house when BBC News first met the family. Now, after countless surgeries, they spend a lot more time out of hospitals and in school.
Qamar has had to adjust to how children react to her injuries, Hawley reports from Amman, Jordan.
“She’s been through too much for a child,” one teacher said. “She would cry but not let me know. The other children told me it was because the kids talked about her face.”
“When I asked her why she didn’t tell me about the kids who were doing that, she said, ‘I don’t want to give the impression that anything is wrong,'” the teacher said.
Qamar said children used to ask her: “Why is your face disfigured?”
She also said that when she grows up, she wants to be a doctor “to help patients so they can be more beautiful than they were before.”
Médecins Sans Frontières‘ hospital has discharged Rahaf, but Qamar still needs surgery.
Hawley reports that the waiting list for surgery is long since the continued conflict in the region has left the hospital flooded with new cases.
Since the Syrian conflict started in 2011, more than 5.4 million people have fled the country in search of safety in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and other nations. Millions of others are displaced inside Syria, where 13.1 million people are in need, according to UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency. Nearly 3 million people remain in areas that are besieged and difficult to reach.
“I pray to be cured,” Qamar said. “I want to be much more beautiful.”
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