Syria crisis: Image of four-year-old boy Marwan crossing into Jordan captures plight of refugees

But after photograph went viral on social media, UNHCR forced to explain Marwan only briefly separated from family in confusion of border crossing

The United Nations refugee agency has been forced to clarify its position on a series of photos showing people crossing the desert into neighbouring Jordan, after one appeared to show a four-year-old boy making the journey alone.

The little boy, named Marwan, was just one of around 1,000 refugees making the long and difficult journey to escape the war-torn country, and was temporarily separated from the rest of his family during the “chaos and confusion” of the border crossing itself.

Marwan was carried across into Jordan by officials with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – and was reunited with his mother around 10 minutes later.

At no point did the UNHCR say the boy made the full crossing alone, but the powerful image was seized upon by social media users on Sunday, and become one of the most shared pictures of the day.

Andrew Harper, the agency’s representative in Jordan who took and posted the original image, explained what happened in a series of tweets.

He wrote: “Just to let you know that Marwan was safely reunited with his mother soon after being carried across the Jordan border.

Andrew Harper posted a wider image from the UNHCR's Jared Kohler showing Marwan at the back of a large group of refugees before he met officials (Twitter) Andrew Harper posted a wider image from the UNHCR's Jared Kohler showing Marwan at the back of a large group of refugees before he met officials (Twitter) “Marwan's story is that he was temporarily separated from his family in the chaos of the mass refugees’ crossing into Jordan.

 “When refugees cross, which happens every day, it is the most vulnerable that UNHCR staff Border Guards look out to help.

“Unfortunately in every mass refugee crossing it is the elderly, sick, pregnant and often children that fall behind the main groups.”

While assisting refugees across the border on Sunday, the UNHCR said it was “honoured” to be accompanied by the education activist and 2013 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai.

Malala, 16, was pictured as she was briefed by agency officials, spoke to those fleeing Syria and helped carrying supplies.

Malala Yousafzai (second from left) talks to a newly-arrived 5-year-old-girl and her family (UNHCR) Malala Yousafzai (second from left) talks to a newly-arrived 5-year-old-girl and her family (UNHCR) UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told the Mirror: “ The Syria conflict has now been going on for three years and at the moment we are dealing with 2.4 million refugees.

“The important statistic is that over one million of these refugees are children.

“Because they miss out on education we are calling them the 'lost generation' of Syria.

“Unfortunately there are lots of Marwans out there.”


Watch: Syrian children at 'Container City' refugee camp

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living