Eight-year-old Wafaa Keyari personifies the strength and resilience of many civilians caught up in six years of conflict in Syria. Overshadowed by this war, Wafaa has grown up in Aleppo with her parents and seven siblings. Two years ago, she and her family were are at home when it was  shelled during an intense battle.

“We had a gas cylinder in our home. I was next to it,” she says. She is lucky to be alive. The explosion killed a family friend and destroyed their house. Wafaa and her father were left with severe burns that cover their bodies.

Wafaa and her father in Aleppo.

Image © UNHCR

Syria remains the world’s largest humanitarian and refugee crisis, and UNHCR’s largest response operation. Most recently, the agency has coordinated a massive injection of aid into Aleppo as the city recovers from siege, reaching families like Wafaa’s with insulation materials, portable heaters, thermal blankets and clothing.

Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, recently visited Aleppo to witness firsthand the condition of the city.

“There is very little that one can say – these ruins speak by themselves,” he said. “When you see children’s clothes hanging out of windows, kitchens cut in half by shells and rockets, real lives of people interrupted by war as it was happening – I think this will weigh very heavily on the conscience of the world for generations.”

Wafaa plays music at school.

Image © UNHCR

Despite all that she has faced, Wafaa is bright and bubbly on the day she speaks to UNHCR staff. She and her family are supported by UNHCR, and live in a temporary shelter in Aleppo’s west. Two new developments have brought some excitement to her life: classes have begun at the makeshift school in her shelter, and she has recently met with a plastic surgeon who will repair her skin.

 “I want to get better, be happy in life and not be in need of anything,” she says.

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