Blink and you might have missed her, but 8-year-old Syrian author Bana Al Abed made an appearance at this year's Academy Awards. The young girl, who now lives in Turkey, became known for her Twitter account that pleaded for action and help from inside Aleppo, and last year she had her first book published, Dear World: A Syrian Girl's Story of War and Plea for Peace.
Her Oscar moment
Bana took to the Oscars stage during a performance by rapper Common and singer Andra Day. They performed the song Stand Up for Something from the movie Marshall, which was nominated for Best Original Song.
She joined the stage with other activists, including Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors; #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke; 87-year-old Delores Huerta, who is co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America; and Nicole Hockley, mother of Dylan Hockley, who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
She posted a photo of herself at the event on Twitter:
She also posted a photo of herself on stage during the performance, with a tweet asking for people to stand up for Syria:
The next day, she also thanked those she shared the stage with saying she was happy to be a "voice for Syria":
Her rise to fame
Bana first became known to the world via Twitter in 2016: with the help of her English-speaking mother, the first tweet from an account attributed to her (@AlabedBana), simply read:
Soon after, more tweets were sent out telling the tale of a young girl and her family trapped in eastern Aleppo.
Within days, the media picked up on the account. However, there were doubts about whether the tweets had come from a 7-year-old. The account mentions that it is “managed by mom”, and many people seemed to believe it was more likely Bana’s mother, Fatemah, who was writing the tweets while using Bana’s image as the face of a young child trying to escape from a war-torn country.
The account often shared photos and tales of destruction and death while asking for help. Bana has more than 350,000 followers on Twitter.
Life after Syria
On December 19, 2016, a tweet was sent out from Bana's account simply saying: “I escaped from East Aleppo.” Turkish NGO IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation also confirmed they had rescued Bana and her family and moved them to Turkey:
Arriving with her family, she made headlines by appealing to world leaders for help for Syria. She wrote an open letter to US President Donald Trump in which she asked him to help the children of the country.
“I am part of the Syrian children who suffered from the Syrian war,” she wrote. “Right now in Turkey, I can go out and enjoy. I can go to school although I didn’t yet. That is why peace is important for everyone, including you.
“However, millions of Syrian children are not like me right now and suffering in different parts of Syria. You must do something for the children of Syria because they are like your children and deserve peace like you.”
Her and her family have been given Turkish citizenship. She has also been given a book deal by publishers Simon & Schuster. Her first book Dear World: A Syrian Girl's Story of War and Plea for Peace was released on October 3, 2017.