'Syria's Anne Frank' found 'safe' after brief online silence

'Syria's Anne Frank' found 'safe' after brief online silence
3 min read
07 December, 2016
Followers of 7-year-old Syrian Twitter user Bana al-Abed are relieved after she broke her 24-hour silence assuring the world she is still well and living deeper in rebel-held Aleppo.
Bana posts about her life in war-torn Aleppo with the help of her mother [AFP]

Seven-year-old Syrian Bana al-Abed - whose Twitter account has given her moving account of daily life in besieged areas of East Aleppo - is still alive, her father said on Tuesday, after she briefly disappeared online sparking fears about her safety.

Bana's father said the family had fled deeper into rebel-held East Aleppo on the weekend after a ferocious bombardment of their neighbourhood destroyed their house, while regime troops advanced in the area.

The confirmation of the girl's safety - coupled with a new tweet on Tuesday - comes as a relief to many concerned about her welfare following her brief online silence and a series of distressed tweets.

"The army got really close to our neighbourhood. We fled to another part of East Aleppo and the family is doing well," Bana's father Ghassan told AFP.

At the time he spoke to the news agency, around three quarters of Aleppo had been overrun by the Syrian regime.

While fleeing with her family, Bana's twitter account showed no activity for a period of around 24 hours.

This prompted many of her tens of thousands of followers to tweet the hashtag #WhereisBana for updates on her welfare.

"Hello my friends, how are you? I am fine... I miss you," Bana wrote on Tuesday, reassuring those concerned about her safety.

With help from her mother, Bana has used social media since September to show the world how one child is coping with the effects of a war that has devastated Syria.

"Good afternoon from #Aleppo I'm reading to forget the war," read one of the account's first tweets, with a picture of Bana reading at a wooden desk, sporting a thin smile and a pink bow in her hair.

While many have been moved by her heart-rending messages, others in support of the Syrian regime - as well as President Bashar al-Assad himself - have dismissed her posts as propaganda.

Assad described footage posted by Bana as being "promoted by the terrorists or their supporters", during an October interview with Danish broadcaster TV2.

Bana holds a message for her followers and friends around the world [AFP]

For those who have loyally followed Bana on Twitter she simply represents the struggle and hardship countless Syrian children face today.

Pictures of Bana reading a Harry Potter book with her brothers - or holding a written message of support for her favourite football club Manchester Unted - for instance, represent the battle to regain a semblance normality while a firece and catastrophic war rages on her doorstep.

Since Syria's war began, at least 15,000 children have been killed, making up a significant portion of the overall death toll of at least 300,000. The vast majority believed to be civilians killed from regime bombing.

Many others now live in temporary shelters and derelict buildings having fled the war, exposing them to the extremes of weather and other dangers this winter.

Agencies contributed to this story.