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GreekReporter.comEuropeViral Photo Gives Renewed Hope to Syrian Refugee Family

Viral Photo Gives Renewed Hope to Syrian Refugee Family

Syrian Refugee Italy
Munzir El Nezzel and his son Mustafa in southern Turkey, near the border with Syria, in January 2021. The photo won an international photography award and went viral online. Credit: Mehmet Aslan

The photo of a Syrian refugee who had lost a leg in a bomb attack, hoisting into the air his son, born without limbs, went viral last year in Italy.

On Friday, Munzir El Nezzel, the man in the picture, and his son Mustafa arrived in Italy after a campaign by the organizers of the Siena International Photo Awards, to bring them and their family from Turkey, where they had fled after Syria.

“We are coming, thank you,” the 6-year-old Mustafa said, smiling broadly, in a video message recorded before he and his family — father, mother and his two sisters ages 1 and 4 — boarded a plane in Ankara on Thursday to fly to Italy. “We love Italia,” he added, according to a report in New York Times.

The picture of Mustafa and his father, both with loving smiles, which was taken in January 2021 by the Turkish photographer Mehmet Aslan, and called “Hardship of Life,” was declared photo of the year at the Siena awards last year.

The picture of the Syrian refugee was “beyond all imagination”

Mustafa was born with a congenital disorder that resulted from medications that his mother had to take while pregnant with him, after she was sickened by nerve gas released during the war in Syria.

He will need long-term treatment to be able to walk or live more independently. His parents currently carry him around and one of his two sisters also helps him around the house.

The emotional and shocking picture made headlines in Italy, and spread internationally on social media, spurring the festival’s organizers to take action and start a fund-raising drive to get treatment for father and son.

The festival’s organizers contacted diplomats, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and the Catholic diocese in Siena to host the Syrian family, so that Mustafa and his father could get treatment and prosthetics.

“The picture was beyond all imagination,” said Luca Venturi, an engineer who founded the Siena photography festival, which bestowed the award, about six years ago. “We thought we could also go beyond our fear of not being able to do anything for this family,” he told the New York Times.

The Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest displacement crisis globally, UNICEF says.

Nearly 5.7 million registered refugees, including almost 2.7 million children, live in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

COVID-19 continues to impact families’ livelihoods, health and access to services, further compounding their vulnerability. Nearly 20.6 million people, including almost 5.8 million children, need urgent assistance.,

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