Update: There appears to be some debate about just how "lost" the boy was and whether he was truly separated from his family. We've provided more context at the end of this post.
Original post: A group of UN staffers found a four-year-old named Marwan in the middle of the Jordanian desert, fleeing Syria with his belongings in a plastic bag. The boy had become separated from the rest of his family. They've since been reunited, CNN's Hala Gorani reported on Twitter.
A photo of Marwan was first tweeted on Sunday by Andrew Harper of the UN's Refugee agency:
Although Marwan was walking all alone before UN staffers helped him reconnect to his family members, he also one of over a million juvenile refugees fleeing Syria since the beginning of the deadly conflicts there. That's about half of the total number of refugees from the country, which stood at over 2 million this past August. The majority of those Syrians, nearly 1.8 million of them, fled between August of 2012 and August of 2013. At this point, over two million more children have been displaced in Syria since the crisis began.
Update: On Tuesday, a day after the above image went viral, the UN tweaked some of the language used to describe Marwan's situation, to clarify that he was not entirely by himself when the UN workers found him.
After speaking to the UN about the specifics of Marwan's separation from his family, CNN's Jim Sciutto tweeted, "#UNHCR now says little Marwan was only 30ft behind his family. Why did they misrepresent? Awaiting ans." However, it's not clear at this point whether CNN or the U.N. bears the brunt of the responsibility for the context with which the image was picked up in the media, including, originally, at The Wire. Here's the tweet from CNN's Hala Gorani that helped to popularize the image:
OpenNewsroom put together a great Storify on how the debate over the viral image unfolded. According to their assessment, it looks like a combination of characterizations from both CNN and the UNHCR helped add to the confusion:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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