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ISIS, Children And The Sweet Little Horrors Of War

ISIS, Children And The Sweet Little Horrors Of War
Massimo Gramellini


ROME — The year begins with the absurd destiny of two children, both tiny victims of a war that we'd rather not see. On the left is a screen-grab image of a shockingly young boy who is featured in the first propoganda video of 2016 by the butchers of ISIS. Like adults members of the terror group, he wears a camouflage uniform and black headband in his curly hair. By the looks of it, he doesn't even seem old enough to go to school, but that hasn't stopped the Islamist killers from teaching him the fine art of threatening others.

In the video, he is seen stretching his cute little arm outward to indicate a position in the distance that promises death to all infidels beyond the horizon. It is meant to inspire fear, but it prompts pity instead — though not quite as much as the child inside the small coffin in the image on the right. We know only his name, Khalid, his age — two years old — and the inevitable reason he found himself plying the icy waters of the Aegean Sea in the middle of winter, on a boat destined to crash against the rocks: His young Syrian mother wanted to spare him from a childhood of war. The wooden casket helps shield our own sensitivities, because after the picture of little Aylan lying dead on a Turkish beach, we require ever more shocking images to feel outraged.

The year has started like this: one child trapped in war promising death, another dying in an attempt to flee war. There are no words or morals to this story, only the duty not to close our eyes.

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Migrant Lives

Latin America's Migrants Trying To Reach The U.S.: Risk It All, Fail, Repeat

Searching for a safe home, many Latin American migrants are forced to try, time after time, getting turned away, and then risk everything again.

Photograph of thousands of migrants marching  to the US-Mexican border under the rain.

06 June 2022, Mexico, Tapachula: Thousands of migrants set off north on foot under the rain.

Daniel Diaz/ZUMA
Alejandra Pataro

BUENOS AIRES — With gangsters breathing down his neck, Maynor sold all of his possessions in Honduras, took his wife and three kids aged 11, 8 and 5, and set out northwards. He was leaving home for good, for the third time.

"I had to leave my country several times," he said, "but was deported." He was now trying to enter the U.S. again, but the family had become stuck in Mexico: "Things are really, really bad for us right now."

Migration in Latin America is no longer a linear process, taking migrants from one place to another. It goes in several directions. Certain routes will take you to one country as a stopover to another, but really, it's more a lengthy ordeal than a layover, and the winners are those who can find that receptive, welcoming community offering work and a better life.

The aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) calls this an international, multidirectional phenomenon that may include recurring trips to and from a home country.

Marisol Quiceno, MSF's Advocacy chief for Latin America, told Clarín that migrants "are constantly looking for opportunities and for food security, dignified work opportunities (and) healthcare access." These are the "minimum basics of survival," she said, adding that people will keep looking if they did not find them the first time around.

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