“Where the Children Sleep” is a present photo exhibition at Fotografiske, Stockholm, where Swedish photographer Magnus Wennman shows his heart-rending photographs of child victims from the war in Syria.
Fotografiska and Aftonbladet aim to recognize the vulnerable situation of these children who have been displaced by war in order to support the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR.
Click here to help UNCHR help fleeing children.
Magnus Wennman, winner of two World Press Photo Awards and fourfold winner of Sweden’s Photographer of the Year Award, has met refugees in countless refugee camps and on their journeys through Europe this year. The story of when the night comes is a living narrative with no given ending.
Nothing should be more peaceful than a sleeping child. This series of photographs by Swedish photographer Magnus Wennman shows that nothing could be further from the truth than these children from Syria.
The war in Syria has continued for almost five years and more than two million children are fleeing the war, within and outside of the country borders. They have left their friends, their homes, and their beds behind. A few of these children offered to show where they sleep now, when everything that once was no longer exists.
In his photo essay “Where The Children Sleep”, Wennman has captured the suffering endured by hundreds of thousands of youngsters scarred physically and psychologically by the country’s civil war. Even for those who have escaped the conflict zone to an unknown future beyond Syria, Wennman finds there is little peace for a generation of innocents who should, like all children, be tucked up in their beds without a care in the world.
Here, Karim, 17, sleeping in Omonoia Square in Athens, Greece. Picture: Magnus Wennman/REX Shutterstock/australscope
AHMAD, AGED 7
Even sleep is not a free zone; it is then that the terror replays. Ahmad was home when the bomb hit his family’s house in Idlib, Syria. Shrapnel hit him in the head, but he survived. His younger brother did not. The family had lived with war as their nearest neighbour for several years, but without a home they had no choice. They were forced to flee. Now Ahmad lays among thousands of other refugees on the asphalt along the highway leading to Hungary’s closed border. This is day 16 of their flight. The family has slept in bus shelters, on the road, and in the forest, explains Ahmad’s father.
Walaa, 5, is currently in Dar-El-Ias, Lebanon. She wants to go home. She had her own room in Aleppo, she tells us. There, she never used to cry at bedtime. Here, in the refugee camp, she cries every night. Resting her head on the pillow is horrible, she says, because night-time is horrible. That was when the attacks happened. By day, Walaa’s mother often builds a little house out of pillows, to teach her that they are nothing to be afraid of.
SHIRAZ, AGED 9
Shiraz, 9, was three months old when she was stricken with a severe fever. Currently taking refuge in Suruc, Turkey, the doctor diagnosed polio and advised her parents to not spend too much money on medicine for the girl who didn’t have a chance. Then the war came. Her mother, Leila, starts crying when she describes how she wrapped the girl in a blanket and carried her over the border from Kobane to Turkey. Shiraz, who can’t talk, received a wooden cradle in the refugee camp. She lies there. Day and night.
ABDULLAH, 5, sleeping outside a railway station in Belgrade, Serbia.
Abdullah has a blood disease. For the last two days he has been sleeping outside of the central station in Belgrade. He saw the killing of his sister in their home in Daraa. He is still in shock and has nightmares every night, says his mother. Abdullah is tired and is not healthy, but his mother does not have any money to buy medicine for him.IMAGE: MAGNUS WENNMAN/AFTONBLADET/REX USA
AHMED, 6, sleeping on the ground in Horgos, Serbia.
It is after midnight when Ahmed falls asleep in the grass. The adults are still sitting around, formulating plans for how they are going to get out of Hungary without registering themselves with the authorities. Ahmed is six years old and carries his own bag over the long stretches that his family walks by foot. “He is brave and only cries sometimes in the evenings,” says his uncle, who has taken care of Ahmed since his father was killed in their hometown Deir ez-Zor in northern Syria.IMAGE: MAGNUS WENNMAN/AFTONBLADET/REX USA
FARA, 2, asleep in Azraq, Jordan.
Fara loves soccer. Her dad tries to make balls for her by crumpling up anything he can find, but they don’t last long. Every night he says goodnight to Fara and her big sister Tisam, 9, in the hope that tomorrow will bring them a proper ball to play with. All other dreams seem to be beyond his reach, but he is not giving up on this one.IMAGE: MAGNUS WENNMAN/AFTONBLADET/REX USA
IMAN, 2, in a hospital bed in Azraq, Jordan.
Iman has pneumonia and a chest infection. This is her third day in this hospital bed. “She sleeps most of the time now. Normally she’s a happy little girl, but now she’s tired. She runs everywhere when she’s well. She loves playing in the sand”, says her mother Olah, 19.IMAGE: MAGNUS WENNMAN/AFTONBLADET/REX USA
MAHDI, 1, asleep on the ground in Horgos, Serbia.
Mahdi is one and one half years old. He has only experienced war and flight. He sleeps deeply despite the hundreds of refugees climbing around him. They are protesting against not being able to travel further through Hungary. On the other side of the border hundreds of police are standing. They have orders from the Primary Minister Viktor Orban to protect the border at every cost. The situation is becoming more desperate and the day after the photo is taken, the police use tear gas and water cannons on the refugees.IMAGE: MAGNUS WENNMAN/AFTONBLADET/REX USA
MARAM, 8, in Amman, Jordan.
Maram had just come home from school when the rocket hit her house. A piece of the roof landed right on top of her. Her mother took her to a field hospital, and from there she was airlifted across the border to Jordan. Head trauma caused a brain hemorrhage. For the first 11 days, Maram was in a coma. She is now conscious, but has a broken jaw and can’t speak.IMAGE: MAGNUS WENNMAN/AFTONBLADET/REX USA
MOHAMMED, 13, in hospital in Nizip, Turkey.
Mohammed loves houses. Back home in Aleppo he used to enjoy walking around the city looking at them. Now many of his favorite buildings are gone, blown to pieces. Lying in his hospital bed he wonders whether he will ever fulfill his dream of becoming an architect. “The strangest thing about war is that you get used to feeling scared. I wouldn’t have believed that”, says Mohammed.IMAGE: MAGNUS WENNMAN/AFTONBLADET/REX USA
RALIA, 7 and RAHAF, 13, sleeping on the street in Beirut, Lebanon.
Ralia and Rahaf are from Damascus, where a grenade killed their mother and brother. Along with their father they have been sleeping rough for a year. They huddle close together on their cardboard boxes. Rahaf says she is scared of ‘bad boys’ at which Ralia starts crying.IMAGE: MAGNUS WENNMAN/AFTONBLADET/REX USA
MOYAD, 5, in hospital in Amman, Jordan.
Moyad and his mother needed to buy flour to make a spinach pie. Hand in hand they were on their way to the market. They walked past a taxi in which someone had placed a bomb. Moyad’s mother died instantly. The boy, who has been airlifted to Jordan, has shrapnel lodged in his head, back and pelvis.IMAGE: MAGNUS WENNMAN/AFTONBLADET/REX USA
TAMAM, 5, in Azraq, Jordan.
Tamam is scared of her pillow. She cries every night at bedtime. The air raids on her hometown of Homs usually took place at night, and although she has been sleeping away from home for nearly two years now, she still doesn’t realize that her pillow is not the source of danger.IMAGE: MAGNUS WENNMAN/AFTONBLADET/REX USA
SHAM, 1, in Horgos, Serbia.
In the very front, just alongside the border between Serbia and Hungary by the 4-meter-high iron gate, Sham is laying in his mother’s arms. Just a few decimeters behind them is the Europe they so desperately are trying to reach. Only one day before the last refugees were allowed through and taken by train to Austria. But Sham and his mother arrived too late, along with thousands of other refugees who now wait outside the closed Hungarian border.IMAGE: MAGNUS WENNMAN/AFTONBLADET/REX USA
Feature image (on top): LAMAR, 5, sleeping on the ground in Horgos, Serbia.
Back home in Baghdad the dolls, the toy train, and the ball are left; Lamar often talks about these items when home is mentioned. The bomb changed everything. The family was on its way to buy food when it was dropped close to their house. It was not possible to live there anymore, says Lamar’s grandmother, Sara. After two attempts to cross the sea from Turkey in a small, rubber boat they succeeded in coming here to Hungary’s closed border. Now Lamar sleeps on a blanket in the forest, scared, frozen, and sad.
Swedish Photographer on Innocent War Victims, compiled by Admin
All photos Magnus Wennman/Aftonbladet