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Photos: the games children play in war zones

Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko
Politics by other means.
By Caitlin Hu
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

It’s a dangerous time to be a child. According to UNICEF’s 2014 year-end report, 15 million children are trapped in six major conflicts in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, the State of Palestine, Syria and Ukraine. And that’s not counting the effects of recent bombings in Yemen, or of slow burning crises in places like Afghanistan and Nigeria. Worldwide, seven million children now live as refugees. ”Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality,” wrote UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake.

And yet, as attests this series of images contributed by photographers from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, some children continue to play—on, over and around the wreckage of war. Conflict colors their games in surprising ways: while a pair of Ukrainian boys mimic the adults around them in a game of soldiers versus rebels, Syrian teens transform a bomb crater into an innocent swimming hole.

Kabul, Afghanistan: boys play fort on top of a burnt-out car (Reuters/Mohammad Ismail)
Aleppo, Syria: A boy dives into a bomb crater that has filled with water and become a local pool (Reuters/Parwiz)
Ashkelon, Israel: an Israeli boy plays goalie inside a public bomb shelter (Reuters/Amir Cohen)
Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko
Kramatorsk, Ukraine: boys play a game of war, pretending to be Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists
Gaza City: a Palestinian teen practices acrobatics over the ruins of bombed homes (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)
Myitkyina, Myranmar: children play a game in a camp for internally displaced persons. Thousands fled when fighting erupted between Myanmar government troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in 2011 (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)
Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo: a Congolese boy displaced by recent fighting in North Kivu, juggles a ball near his makeshift shelter (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)
Jalalabad, Afghanistan: boys play with toy guns on the first day of Eid al-Adha (Reuters/ Parwiz)
Idlib, Syria: Refugee children displaced by fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces play at Al-Tah camp in the countryside. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi)
Tehran, Iran: A boy smiles on top of a decommissioned tank, on the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war (Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazl)

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