A year ago this month, the world was stunned by the photograph of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, lying dead on a Turkish beach.

Like Aylan’s father, Abdullah Kurdi, many thought that the image would help clarify the situation in Syria. Nobody – Russian or American, German or Turkish, Sunni or Shia – wants to see a young child die.

But this summer we were appalled again at a similar image: That of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, sitting barefoot in an ambulance, covered in dust and blood after narrowly surviving the blast of a Russian airstrike.

Many of us now share Mr. Kurdi’s confusion as to why we are still seeing such images and confronting the same stories. The reality is, children are caught in the violence every week in Syria, and many are not as lucky as Omran.

But the greatest strategic questions return to which armies should be backed, what districts should be bombed, and who should or should not receive more weaponry.

The U.N. has continually reported on what looks like a bottomless humanitarian crisis, but international powers seem more willing to fight a proxy war in Syria than find ways to help the millions of desperate people living in the country.

For now, the international community must help the refugees; nobody should sacrifice the lives of their children in their search for safety.

The U.S. should accept more than 10,000 Syrians. Syria’s neighbors should improve conditions for their refugees, and the U.S. and Europe should help them accomplish that. This is not an issue we can avoid, as a nation or as human beings.

In the long term, the U.S. should prioritize humanitarian issues in the region. Syria needs peace, regardless of whose political goals triumph. The health of young children should come before politics.

Charlie Tomb


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