This image depicts an Iftar meal – the traditional evening meal to break fast during Ramadan – attended by nearly 600 families in April 2022 in Tadef, Syria. Tadef sits in the northwest of the country on the front line of the Syrian civil war and has changed hands several times. This meal marked a reunion of families that had not seen each other since fleeing the war years prior.
The Syrian Civil War began in 2011 when the Syrian government violently suppressed public demonstrations and civil unrest calling for democratic reforms. The war quickly grew to involve many actors, including foreign governments and numerous rebel groups, such as the Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda. While there is no authoritative figure on the scale of casualties in the Syrian Civil War, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) documented 494,438 deaths by June 2021, where at least 159,774 were civilians. There were reports of large-scale war crimes and crimes against humanity including indiscriminate bombing of cities and the intentional targeting of civilians and civilian targets, such as hospitals.
More than half of Syria’s pre-war population has left their homes, with roughly 6.8 million refugees living abroad and 6.9 million internally displaced within the country. As of 2022, 14.6 million Syrians require humanitarian assistance and approximately 90% of the country lives in poverty.