"Please just stop the war. That's all we want."
He was, apparently, thirteen. He looked about eleven. He was travelling "unaccompanied" out of Syria.
I don't know what his story is or why he was where he was without a responsible adult.
An "unaccompanied" child is one below the age of majority (i.e. adult) who does not have a responsible adult (parent, other relative or friend) to care for them. They often get lost in times of crisis, particularly if they are old enough and "street-smart" enough to forage for food and shelter for themselves.
They are not "I am David" like characters in the book by Anne Holm. They are not going to travel to Denmark with the help of other people and find their mother there. In all likelihood they no longer have fathers or mothers and may not have any family at all. They are some of the most at risk children in the world.
If you listen to their stories and you have any compassion at all you will not sleep that night - or perhaps for nights to come. They break the law simply in order to survive - and not all of them survive. They get raped and beaten and enslaved by others. I won't go into details on a public blog which anyone can read. This is war, the worst of war. It is something that almost never gets mentioned in the media. It's too harrowing.
And so, a thirteen year old boy asks people, to "just stop the war". It's a simple, simple request.
The answer seems impossible. While Europe is struggling to house and feed a mass migration of people due to war and poverty the question does have to be asked, "What's being done to prevent this?"
Assad is still in power. Even if he goes the problems won't be solved. IS is no weaker and still intent on maximum damage and a caliphate which extends far beyond their current area of occupation. What governments exist are often weak and corruption ridden. The economies have crumbled and there is no paid employment to be had. Neighbouring countries, some of which have problems of their own, don't want to know.
I don't know what the answer is. If I did I would be rich. I would probably get the Nobel Prize.
If I did I could give it to people like the boy who wants the war stopped. I could see to it that he got an education to help rebuild his country.
Perhaps though it is time for Europe to say to all those would-be migrants, "Yes, we will help. We will help you get the skills you need to one day return to your country and rebuild it. We will shelter you until it is safe to return."
Is that part of the answer? Can we tell that thirteen year old that much?