ARTS & CULTURE

'Humans Of Syria' Shows Us The Faces Behind The Headlines In Effort To Humanize The Conflict

03/18/2015 10:28 am ET | Updated Mar 18, 2015

As the public loses interest in Syria's civil war, a group of young photographers is aiming to humanize the conflict through a Facebook group inspired by Brandon Stanton's tremendously popular Humans Of New York blog.

Humans of Syria, which launched March 14, documents the faces and stories behind the grim statistics that often make headlines.

A member of the photography collective, whom we'll call "HOS," spoke with The Huffington Post on the condition of anonymity, citing concerns over safety. The Skype connection was fuzzy and interrupted by power outages, but the representative's drive to share Syrians' unheard stories came through loud and clear.

"We want to tell people there are Syrians who have dreams, who have stories to tell, they are not just numbers,” HOS said. “Beyond these battle lines there are humans, great humans."

Humans of Syria is run by a group of amateur and professional Syrian photographer friends who, after seeing Stanton's blog, asked themselves, "How come no one thought about humans inside Syria," HOS said.

They decided to photograph the remarkable individuals surviving inside the country. Among the blog's subjects is this man who keeps his lights on by charging a battery on his bike:

The photographers hope the blog can help combat what they see as media misrepresentations of Syrians. "They are not all fighters," HOS said, nor are they all cute children or elderly.

Syria has entered its fifth year of brutal conflict. The 2011 opposition movement against President Bashar Assad's authoritarian regime devolved into a full-fledged civil war that has claimed more than 200,000 lives.

So far, the pictures on Humans of Syria all come from cities in eastern Ghouta, the site targeted with a chemical attack in August 2013. The area has been under siege for two years.

“We started with eastern Ghouta but [the photos are] going to be [from] everywhere," HOS promised.

The group is working with photographers all across the country, and HOS said readers can expect photos from Aleppo and Idlib, as well as from regime-controlled territory.

HOS stressed the photographers behind Humans of Syria don't receive funding or protection from any international organization -- and they like it that way.

“We want to be independent, we don't want someone to say what to do," HOS said. "We are working without any policies, without any rules. We have our own rules."

To put it simply, Humans of Syria offers a new look into a conflict that many don't want to hear about.

Al Jazeera recently highlighted the growing apathy toward the conflict with a piece called, "You probably won't read this story about Syria." The news outlet marked the fourth anniversary of the start of the conflict with documentaries, analysis and news, but few people visited the content.

"As we watched the analytics, tracked our traffic, that stinging accusation of apathy seemed justified," Barry Malone, an online editor with Al Jazeera English, wrote in the blog.

While HOS understands that people want to live their normal lives, the rep has a message for those who'd rather turn away from Syria.

"You know, there are millions of people here with their own dreams," HOS said. "You can’t just leave them here when you get bored."

Syria War In March
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