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Banksy, Idris Elba Lend Support To Syria Vigils

The artist contributed imagery and the actor contributed voice work to #WithSyria, a group commemorating the third anniversary of the conflict.
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Graffiti artist Banksy and actor Idris Elba lent their support to an organization dedicated to reminding the world that the Syria crisis is still ongoing, it's still as bad as ever, and it needs to be stopped.

Saturday, March 15, marks the third anniversary of the start of the conflict. That's when protest movements really took hold in the country after 15 teenagers were arrested and tortured for writing anti-government graffiti. (Via BBC)

The organization #WithSyria is commemorating the event with candlelight vigils, urging all sides of the conflict to stop the bloodshed, allow aid organizations into the country and begin peace talks.

The graffiti artist is lending — what else? — graffiti to the organization, repurposing one of his most famous images.

This image of a little girl and a red balloon, originally painted on a wall in London beside the words "There is always hope," has been adapted to show a girl wearing a head scarf. (Via Flickr / Dominic Robinson, Banksy)

The red balloon is also featured in a video for the organization, voiced by Idris Elba.

"On March 15, 2014, the world will wake up to the third anniversary of the bloody conflict in Syria." (Via #WithSyria)

The red balloon is also being used as a symbol of hope in the candlelight vigils, and the updated image will be projected onto landmarks around the world, from the Eiffel Tower to the Lincoln Memorial, with the message U.N.'s hashtag "No lost generation." (Via #WithSyria)

As for what effect the vigils will have on the ongoing violence... well, they can't hurt.

The U.N.'s mediator Lakhdar ​Brahimi hasn't had much luck ending the conflict, with recent peace talks in Geneva basically hitting a brick wall.

This won't be the first time Banksy has lent his art to a difficult cause, though. In 2005, the artist painted murals on the wall dividing Israel and the West Bank, including another image of a girl with balloons. (Via Channel 4)

The U.N. stopped counting casualties in Syria when they hit 100,000 more than a year ago, but some media outlets estimate 140,000 have now been killed and nine million displaced.

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