A number of photos of Syrian children holding up pictures of different Pokémon have been shared on the Internet, in an attempt to encourage the world to save them from the violence taking place in their homeland.
The photos, which have been circulated by the Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office (RFS) on Facebook, show the children looking straight into the camera, with the pictures of Pokémon characters accompanied by the sentence “I am here, come save me”.
Additionally, included in the pictures are the locations of each of the children, all from different Syrian towns: one sign reads: “I am in Kafr Zeta, save me”, with another saying “I am in Kafr Nabl on the outskirts of Idlib, come and save me,”.
A spokesperson for the RFS, a media outlet that work to spread the message of Syrians who are against the regime of president Bashar al-Assad, told The Independent: “With the media spread wide for Pokemon game we decided to publish these images to highlight the suffering of the Syrian people from the bombing of the forces of order and Air-Assad to the Syrian people and besiege them.” The photos have already been shared online more than 20,000 times.
The concept of using Pokémon Go to spread awareness of events in Syria was first pioneered by Taim Shami of the refugee advocacy organisation FacesOfChange. Shami posted a selection of pictures to Twitter modelled on the game, with the title “Syria Go”, suggesting that many Syrians had more important things to search for than Pokémon, such as a home and education.
Syrians have more pressing concerns than catching Pokemon If only augmented reality could save lives here is SyriaGo pic.twitter.com/QbzlKEbFJx
— TAIM SHAMI (@TaimShamiNL) July 19, 2016
New viral game Pokémon Go is set to tie up a deal with McDonalds to become the official competition arena for Pokémon battles, according to the Wall Street Journal. The deal would be trialled first in Japan, allowing players to battle their friends for specific Pokémon against each other.