The Most Important Thing: Syrian Refugees (12/13)

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Leila*, 9, poses for a portrait in the urban structure where she and her family are taking shelter in Erbil, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, on 17 November 2012. Together with her four sisters, mother, father and grandmother, Leila arrived in Erbil five days before this photograph was taken, after fleeing their home in Deir Alzur, Syria. Her family is one of four living in an uninsulated, partially-constructed home; there are about 30 people sharing the cold, draughty space. Leila recalls explosions all around them for days, but the family finally decided to leave Deir Alzur when their neighbours' house was hit, killing everyone inside. The most terrifying thing about the months before they fled, she says, "was the voice of the tanks. It was even more scary than the sound of planes, because I felt like the tanks were coming for me.".In the background throughout the interview with Leila, a television channel from Deir Alzur displayed images of incredibly graphic violence and destruction. When asked what she feels when seeing those images again and again, she replied, "Watching the TV makes me remember Syria and what I saw there. It makes me feel sorry and sad in my heart - but I want to keep it on.".The most important thing Leila was able to bring with her are the jeans she holds in this photograph. "I went shopping with my parents one day and looked for hours without finding anything I liked. But when I saw these, I knew instantly that these were perfect because they have a flower on them, and I love flowers." She has only worn the jeans three times, all in Syria - twice to wedding parties, and once when she went to visit her grandfather. She says she won't wear them again until she attends another wedding, and she hopes it, too, will be in Syria...*Name changed for protection purposes
Leila*, 9, poses for a portrait in the urban structure where she and her family are taking shelter in Erbil, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, on 17 November 2012. Together with her four sisters, mother, father and grandmother, Leila arrived in Erbil five days before this photograph was taken, after fleeing their home in Deir Alzur, Syria. Her family is one of four living in an uninsulated, partially-constructed home; there are about 30 people sharing the cold, draughty space. Leila recalls...
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