Aleppo’s underground orphanage offers a haven for children bereaved by war

The Guardian reports: Two floors underground, Aleppo’s luckier orphans sleep as safely as anyone can in a city at war, though they are jolted awake regularly by bombs ripping apart the streets above them.

Watching over them are Asmar Halabi and his wife, who knows in intimate, painful detail the damage explosives can do, because she still carries injuries picked up in an airstrike on a school two years ago.

The suffering of the Syrian city’s children, who have lived through years of bombing, was thrust back into the headlines this week by a photograph of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, bereft and bloodied in the back of an ambulance.

His parents were also pulled alive from the rubble of their home, and the family have since been reunited. But as Russian airstrikes and government barrel bombs tear apart rebel-held east Aleppo street by street, many children endure even greater shock and loss.

Halabi’s 50 charges at the Moumayazoun (Outstanding Guys) orphanage are some of the most vulnerable individuals left in the city. The orphanage moved below ground when relentless bombardment became too much for normal life to continue, and it now provides a subterranean haven.

The children range in age from two to 14. Their parents have been killed or become mentally ill, or have been snatched away in some other cruel fashion by a conflict now moving towards its sixth year. [Continue reading…]

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