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Save The Children Highlights Plight Of Syrian Child Refugees In New PSA


An unusual video is drawing attention to the plight of Syrian child refugees. Within two minutes, it covers a year in the life of an 11-year-old girl as she and her mother flee a war.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) I'll find you. You ring when you get there.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) I'm not getting on the boat without you.

SIEGEL: Eventually, the girl makes her way alone to a new country. It's a story that we've read about in the headlines for several years now, but there's a twist in this video. The girl is British. Her name is Lily. The public service announcement was commissioned by the nonprofit Save the Children. Carolyn Miles is the group's CEO and president.

CAROLYN MILES: I think as we were coming up to the five-year mark on the Syria crisis, that's when we said we've really got to get this back on people's radar.

SIEGEL: We asked Miles why when there are plenty of Syrian children trying to get to Europe in real life the group chose instead to create a story set in Britain.

MILES: We picked London to try to bring across the point that if this were happening in London or in Chicago or in New York, you know, it would be a traumatizing event for all of us.

SIEGEL: The video has gotten on people's radar. It's received over a hundred thousand views on YouTube since it was uploaded Monday. Save the Children has seen an uptick in donations.


This video is a sequel. The first, published in 2014, showed Lily in her home in a town torn by conflict. Tanya Basu of NPR's global health team Goats and Soda says there was a backlash to the choice of a white British girl.

TANYA BASU, BYLINE: A lot of people were actually paying attention to the initial video and discussing the fact that it wasn't using Syria or a Syrian child to bring attention to the Syrian refugee crisis and wondering if that was ethical.

SHAPIRO: After Basu saw the two videos, she wondered something else, too. The main character aside, was the depiction of the refugee's plight true to life?

BASU: The way it portrays the experience of children is actually perhaps inaccurate only in not being more violent.

SIEGEL: So she talked to a Syrian refugee who now lives in Michigan. His take - the reality is much more horrifying. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.