Then, a boy, pulled from the rubble, sits in an ambulance. He’s dazed, bloodied, covered in dust. He wipes his face. His name:
Omran Daqneesh. Age five. He survived without major injuries. So did his parents and three young siblings.
Almost immediately, his image swept across social media worldwide, making Omran the latest symbol of heartbreak in the now-five year old conflict.
But do such images spark action? If so, when? And how?
Last year, as the refugee crisis swelled, one photo came to embody the tragedy. A drowned, three-year-old Syrian boy, pictured lying face down on a Turkish beach. It galvanized European leaders to review how they take in refugees and asylum-seekers.
Other instances had less impact. In 2012, a documentary about Ugandan war-lord Joseph Kony went viral. It detailed the brutal tactics of his “Lord’s Resistance Army,” and the group’s use of child soldiers. With the hashtags “Kony 2012” and “Stop Kony,” it sparked global calls for his arrest. But four years later, Kony reportedly remains at large.
And in April 2014, the Islamist group Boko Haram seized more than 270 girls from their school in northeast Nigeria. It led to the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign, repeated and circulated by prominent figures like first lady Michelle Obama.
But this week, new video from Boko Haram surfaced showing dozens of the girls still in captivity, more than two years later.