Children of Syria photos stop Leaders and Locals on Capitol Hill

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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) --- The Children of Syria, images of the vulnerable,
got put on display for the eyes of the powerful on Capitol Hill, May 20 - 22, 2014.

"One of the most arresting or graphic pictures downstairs that I saw... a photograph showing children under the desk, preparing for an attack.
It's hard to believe that they have to engage in that kind of preparation," said Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), inside the Russell Senate Office Building.

It's been over three years since the start of the civil war in Syria. Over 10,000 children have died, according to Peter Yeo, VP for Public Policy and Advocacy for the United Nations Foundation.

Millions more children currently live as refugees nearby in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq.

"We have millions of children who don't have a place to go to sleep at night, don't have healthcare, don't have education because of the civil war and because of the actions taken by the Assad government to promote this brutal war against its own citizens," Yeo continued.

For three days leaders and locals got to see the photos displayed under the Senate Russell Rotunda. The images are the work by six photographers: Lynsey Addario, Kate Brooks, Bassam Khabieh, Javier Manzano, Ayman Oghanna, Tara Todras-Whitehill.

Khabieh, a Syrian, is currently unable to leave the war-torn country, according to Leslie Thomas, founder of Art Works Projects for Human Rights, the non-profit organization that produced the traveling photo exhibit.

The images raise awareness to a dire situation in need of more humanitarian aid: access to food, shelter, education and basic healthcare, "so that these kids can have some semblance of a normal life until the civil war has ended," Yeo said.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz..), of the Foreign Relations Committee explained what he learned on a visit to a refugee camp in Jordan. McCain told the crowd inside the Kennedy Caucus Room what a female school teacher told him about the children:

"...she said, "They believe that you have abandoned them. They believe that you have abandoned them.
And when they grow older, they're going to take revenge on you for abandoning them. My friends, that was very gripping to me."

Sen. Tim Kaine (D- Va.), said the photos may help to break the attitude that Americans are "not that interested" in the growing crisis in Syria.

"In order to kinda breakthrough the malaise sometimes, we can focus on the fact that so many others are breaking through the malaise and really doing a lot."

Kaine said he was "struck' by the generosity of the people in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, "the people with a lot less than we have," who have welcomed and helped the Syrian refugees.

Reported/Produced by: Elizabeth Jia
WUSA 9

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