Grim milestone as Syria conflict marks third anniversary

British graffiti artist Banksy recreates his iconic artwork to mark the third anniversary of the Syria conflict

British graffiti artist Banksy has recreated his iconic balloon girl artwork to mark the third anniversary of the Syria conflict, a civil war that has left more than 100,000 people dead and displaced almost half the country's population.

The new work features a young Syrian refugee in a headscarf, letting go of a heart-shaped balloon, and carries the hashtag #WithSyria, a reference to an online campaign to support victims of the war.

The artwork will be projected onto various international landmarks on Thursday, including Nelson's Column in London and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, in an effort to refocus public attention on the crisis. Red balloons will be released simultaneously in squares around the world to mark the anniversary.

The United Nations yesterday urged the global community not to forget what it called the world's biggest humanitarian and security crisis.

“Only a political solution will end the nightmare of the Syrian people,” said UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, appealing to Russia and the US in particular to take steps to reenergise the peace process. "All should reflect on the long and growing list of horrors taking place in Syria every day. The effects and threats of this conflict will only grow and spread."

With the bloodshed now entering its fourth year, the UN has warned that Syrians are about to replace Afghans as the world's largest refugee population. An estimated 9 million residents have been driven from their homes, and a further 2.4 million have fled over the border to neighbouring Arab states. Lebanon alone now houses some 932,000 refugees, according to the UN refugee agency.

“Syria is now the biggest humanitarian and peace and security crisis facing the world, with violence reaching unthinkable levels,” the UN chief said.

Philanthropy Age is taking part in an art auction to raise funds for Syrian refugees. To learn more, click here