ANKARA (AA): Bana al-Abed, a nine-year-old Syrian girl from Aleppo, has stressed the need for “urgent action” to save the children of her country and all over the world from the scourge of war. Three years ago, Bana captured the world’s attention with her moving tweets from war-torn Aleppo. Along with her mother, father and two little brothers, she was granted Turkish citizenship after being evacuated along with thousands of others from the regime-besieged city.
“Before the war, I had a good life in Syria,” Bana said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency. “It was so peaceful; I had a lot of fun with my family.” Speaking in English, which she learned from her mother, an English teacher, she added: “When the war started, everything changed. I was afraid that I, or another member of my family, would die.” “My friend Yasmin was killed, but I didn’t lose hope,” she said, going on to recall her time under siege in Aleppo “when there was no food or water”.
“Refugee children all over the world, especially in Syria, have suffered a lot from bombings and conflicts,” Bana said. “We must try to bring peace to their countries, so they can return to their homes.” “I dream of making this world a better place,” she added. “I hope to change many things.” Regarding her journey from Aleppo to Turkey, she said: “It was so difficult; I remember the displaced children crying in the buses.” She went on to recall her first hours in Turkey; how she and other children were “so tired and hungry” following the two-day bus journey.
“The next day we met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” Bana said. “I remember being happy, excited and scared all at the same time.” She added: “I told myself I have to remain calm when delivering my message from the children of Syria, which is to let children everywhere live in peace.” Turkey currently hosts almost four million registered refugees, of whom nearly 3.6 million are Syrian refugees more than any other country in the world.
When asked about her new life in Turkey, she replied with bright eyes: “I love Turkey so much; it is safe and peaceful. Here I have school and so many friends.” “I am so happy to now be a Turkish citizen,” she added. Bana also voiced hope of eventually returning to Syria. “I always dream of going back to my home,” she said. “Sooner or later, we will go back and rebuild the country.” Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN officials.