A spot of joy amid the ruins

Once a bustling Damascus neighbourhood that was home to spectacular ancient landmarks, Jobar has been destroyed, blighted by ruins of bombed-out homes.

But these Syrian girls' laughter will not be silenced by the threat of more gunfire and bombings.

One of them clutches a handful of balloons, and they run down the deserted streets in glee, snatching a brief moment of joy amid the violence and tears.

One-third of all Syrian children were born in the five years that conflict has torn their country apart, reported The New York Times last month, citing a Unicef report.

Over 300,000 of these children, who total about 3.7 million, were born as refugees, forming a lost generation. Many grow up orphaned, uneducated and hungry, eating animal feed and grass to survive.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'A spot of joy amid the ruins'. Print Edition | Subscribe