The Story Behind This Haunting Photo Of A Yazidi Girl Fleeing ISIS
"I wonder what will become of her. I wonder what will become of all the others."
Whether it's the piercing blue eyes or the sadness and resignation they carry that grabs your attention, it is at once a beautiful and arresting image.
Foreign conflict is often too easy to ignore, to let fall between the cracks of daily life. It's images like the one above – an innocent child caught in the middle of something she didn't choose – that convey the human tragedy of war more than a body count can.
The photo was taken by Moroccan photographer Youssef Bouldal, whose Reuters beat covers both conflict and fashion. In August he was documenting life on the border of Syria and Iraq, where the Yazidi were fleeing persecution from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.
The minority Yazidi sect came to the world's attention earlier this year as ISIS began advancing north, capturing the city of Mosul and driving Yazidis, Christians, and others from their homes with a brutal ultimatum: Convert, flee, or be killed.
To prevent a potential genocide, the US launched air strikes against ISIS forces and conducted several humanitarian air drops at Mount Sinjar, where tens of thousands of Yazidis had fled. However, that aid appears to have stopped.
Bouldal told BuzzFeed: "I remember the scene well. It was the day that I arrived at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing of Fishkhabour.
"Men, women, and children in dirt-caked clothes were struggling in temperatures of over 45 degrees (113ºF), waiting patiently for local Kurdish aid.
"At first, I focused my camera on a group of women sitting on the ground, but when I turned away I saw this little girl.
"I took one shot of her there and as she saw me, she gave me a smile. I captured another frame of her with her mother.
"I was drawn to her wild beauty in this terrible situation. There is a kind of intensity, distress and sadness in her eyes.
"I know that she is 6 years old because I asked her mother, but unfortunately I didn't ask for her name. The family was coming from the Iraqi town of Sinjar, fleeing Islamic State militants.
"It was really sad not only to see this girl, but also to see the hundred others who were dirty, exhausted, and sitting amongst garbage in the heat.
"(This was) my first time in the country, and though I have been to many conflict zones, nothing compares to seeing these displaced people.
"I would be very curious to see the blonde girl who I photographed again. I wonder what will become of her. I wonder what will become of all the others."