Children on the Frontline profiles five young children whose lives have been changed forever by ISIS and the civil war in Syria.
An intimate portrait of children forced to grow up too fast, we meet three young sisters Helen, Farah and Sara and their brother Mohammed, whose father is a rebel commander in Aleppo. Aboude is a singer and poster boy for the Syrian uprising. All five have shown amazing resilience, forsaking their innocence and adapting to life, as the world around them slips into greater chaos and anarchy.
Five-year-old Sara recalls her old life. “We used to walk around and buy ice cream. We would eat, shop, everything. But now we can’t even think about going anywhere.”
Aboude is a full-time activist, singing at daily demonstrations and making pro-revolutionary posters. “In the future, I would like a Syria without snipers” he says. “Syria would belong to all of us, the people.”
Syria’s largest city Aleppo, has become engulfed by fighting between pro and anti-regime groups and over two thousand children have been killed there. Food is in serious shortage and there is the constant threat of shelling, sniper fire and kidnap.
“I used to play with my friends,” says Aboude. “Now there is no one my age…all of them have left. Some died. Some were injured.”
Most of the city’s schools have been destroyed or closed. And children like Helen, Sarah and Farah are getting no formal education. Helen, aged 13, instructs her younger sisters at home. “I just want my siblings to be happy…to feel the spirit of childhood, the spirit of play,” she says.
A generation scarred by Syria’s civil war, the children reveal how their lives have been changed forever.
“My favourite is helping my father”, says Farah, 8. “I stay with my father in his office and we make bombs.”
The children of Syria are often the forgotten victims in the ongoing civil war. More than eleven thousand children have been killed and over a million are now refugees.
Children on the Frontline was produced and directed by Marcel Mettelsiefen and Anthony Wonke. Produced by ITN Productions for Channel 4.
The documentary has won several awards, including the Bayeux Calvados Award for the best television program, the One World Media Award in London, The TV Festival Award in Edinburgh and the Berlin Peace Award. It is now nominated for a prestigious Grierson Award for Best Documentary.
Update: Aboude's brother, Abu Mariam, is missing and presumed killed by ISIS. Shortly after filming ended, the girls' dad Abu Ali was also abducted by ISIS and is assumed to be dead.
ABDULKADER AL DHON
Head of Production
ITN Productions for Channel 4
© Independent Television News Limited, 2014