SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A non-governmental organization (NGO) in China opened an exhibition in Shanghai this week of paintings by Syrian children to raise awareness about the migrant crisis in the war-torn country.
The Chinese Initiative on International Law, an independent NGO, obtained the paintings when its founder Liu Yiqiang and his team researched Syrian refugees in Greece and Turkey.
Migration flows are not new, but a wave of more than 1 million migrants last year prompted bitter divisions among European countries over how to share responsibility for them.
After a request from a refugee center, Liu’s team brought 50 paintings by Syrian children back to China and put 30 of them on display in Shanghai on Monday.
“I was shocked when I saw these paintings,” Liu said. “The bright colors used in each one of these paintings and the illustration of every side of the war and of their lives can directly bring you into the world of the children who have suffered the war.”
One of the children painted a giant green dinosaur towering over a child running away from it in fear.
At the United Nations General Assembly’s Summit for Refugees and Migrants, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced that China will provide $100 million of additional humanitarian aid to help solve problems brought about by the mass movement of refugees and migrants.
“Shanghai received Jewish refugees during World War Two. Now as an international metropolis, would Shanghai be able to do something for these refugees?” asked Li.
But one visitor to the exhibition disagreed.
“At this stage ... China itself has many problems in its underdeveloped regions,” said Wang Le. “I do not think that China is suitable to receive refugees now.”
Another visitor Li Yan said she was moved by the art.
One of the painters “said that she would grow up into a happy woman,” she said. “However, they are living far away and becoming refugees now and don’t know that many countries are not willing to accept them.”
Liu said there will be an charity auction for the paintings in October. Funds raised from the auction will be donated to a special project at the China Children and Teenagers’ Fund which aims to educate young people in doing charitable work.
The exhibition will be on display until the end of September.
Reporting by Reuters TV; writing by Melissa Fares, editing by G Crosse