Giant Pakistani Child’s Face Stares Into the Eyes of Military Pilots

In the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa region of Pakistan, where US military drone attacks regularly occur, lies a giant portrait of an anonymous little girl staring hauntingly up into the clouds above. The nameless child is said to have lost both of her parents and two siblings to drone attacks, and is a silent yet powerful representation of the terror and loss caused by the bombings.


Since 2004, military drone strikes in Pakistan have killed over 1,000 innocent civilians, including more than 200 children. Drone pilots commonly refer to their casualties as ‘bug splats’, due to their sheer volume and anonymity when seen on a grainy drone monitor.




The installation, created by an artist collective that includes renowned French photographer and activist JR, was inspired by the artist’s ‘Inside Out’ project (a global art project transforming messages of personal identity into works of art) and aimed to humanize the so-called ‘bug splats’ for the drone pilots that circled above.




The vinyl poster, rolled out by the artists and enthusiastic Pakistani locals, was made big enough to be seen by satellites. This was so that the image would also become a permanent part of the landscape on global mapping sites. The campaign tagged #notabugsplat went viral over night, recently hitting the front cover of French newspaper Le Monde, and generating powerful conversations amongst the greater public, drone operators and policy makers alike.

“Since our project launched, we registered more than 3.5 billion media impressions.  This not only highlighted the issue as an urgent matter of human rights, but also provided inertia towards practical policy change.
Since the launch of our project, not only have the absolute number of drone strikes decreased, but more importantly there’s been a precipitous decline in the number of civilian causalities as a result of drone strikes in Pakistan.
Next, we would like to see UAV technology used instead for humanitarian purposes to deliver aid and essential medicines.  Perhaps drones could be re-imagined as a weapon of mass salvation.” – Dr Akash Goel, physician and co-creator of the #Notabugsplat project.



For more information about the campaign, visit



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