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Heart-Breaking Photo Shows Syrian Boy Marwan, 4, Crossing Jordan Desert

18/02/2014 09:11 GMT | Updated 18/02/2014 14:59 GMT

Just a few steps away from safety, in the chaos of crossing the Jordanian border, four-year-old Marwan was separated from his family.

Suddenly alone, Marwan found himself at the back of the group of Syrian refugees, lost in the jumble of people stumbling across to safety.

His ordeal did not last long, the boy in the dark cream jumper scooped up by a United Nations aid worker, and reunited with his family across the Jordanian border.

Andrew Harper, a representative to Jordan for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, tweeted the picture of the troubled-looking boy, and the moment his family was found again.

They had been just 20 steps ahead of him, the UNHCR told the Guardian, but the boy's view of them seems to have been blocked by the crowd.

Responding to criticism online that the UN had originally presented Marwan as having crossed the desert alone, Harper denied it had been a staged photo opportunity. He wrote: "Unfortunately in every mass refugee crossing to Jordan, it is the elderly, sick, pregnant and often children that fall behind the main groups.

"When refugees cross, which happens every day, it is the most vulnerable, that UNHCR staff and Border Guards look out to help into Jordan."