ISTANBUL: A photograph of a toddler’s lifeless body washed ashore on a Turkish beach after a migrant boat sank swept across Europe on Wednesday, in a poignant image of the refugee crisis. The images showed the little boy lying face down in the sand near Bodrum, one of Turkey’s prime tourist resorts, before he was...
ISTANBUL: A photograph of a toddler’s lifeless body washed ashore on a Turkish beach after a migrant boat sank swept across Europe on Wednesday, in a poignant image of the refugee crisis.
The images showed the little boy lying face down in the sand near Bodrum, one of Turkey’s prime tourist resorts, before he was picked up by a police officer in photographs taken by the Dogan news agency.
The hashtag “#KiyiyaVuranInsanlik” (“Humanity washed ashore”) made it to Twitter’s top world trending topics after the image was widely shared.
The bleak image made the front page of almost all of Britain’s major newspapers, including some that had previously taken a hard line on the migrant crisis.
“Tiny victim of a human catastrophe” was the Daily Mail’s headline, along with a photo covering almost all of its front page.
“Unbearable” said The Mirror.
“If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?” asked The Independent in an editorial which was headlined: “Somebody’s child.”
The paper immediately launched a petition demanding Britain accept “its fair share of refugees” which gained 10,000 signatures in hours.
London has come in for criticism over the number of refugees it has accepted which is lower than other EU countries in proportion to its population.
The Sun, which caused outcry earlier this year when it published a column comparing migrants to “cockroaches”, used its front page to urged Prime Minister David Cameron to act.
“It’s life and death,” read the front page.
“Today The Sun urges David Cameron to help those in a life-and-death struggle not of their own making.”
– ‘The drowning of Europe’ –
The image, which spread like wildfire on social media, also appeared on the websites of Spain’s El Pais, El Mundo and El Periodico, which dubbed the image: “The drowning of Europe”.
In Italy, La Repubblica tweeted the picture with the words: “One photo to silence the world.”
The image also dominated the front pages of Sweden’s main newspapers, with the headline in the Dagens Nyheter reading: “The refugee picture which shook the world.”
Speaking to AFP, a Turkish rescue worker identified the boy as Aylan Kurdi. Media reports said he was three-years-old.
He was believed to be one of at least 12 Syrian migrants who died trying to reach Greece when their boats sank in Turkish waters.
The Turkish coastguard said two boats had sunk after separately setting off from Turkey’s Bodrum peninsula for the Greek Aegean island of Kos early Wednesday. Among the dead were five children and a woman.
Another 15 people were rescued and the coastguard, backed by helicopters, was continuing its search for three more who were still missing, a statement said.
The rescue worker said the toddler from the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane. Residents there had last year fled to Turkey year to escape violence by Islamic State (IS) extremists.
Over the last week, there has been a dramatic spike in the numbers of migrants — mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa — seeking to leave Turkey by sea for Greece in the hope of finding new lives in the European Union.
This week, the Turkish government said the coastguard had rescued over 42,000 migrants in the Aegean Sea in the first five months of 2015 and more than 2,160 in the last week alone.
A coastguard official told AFP around 100 people had been rescued by Turkish rescue teams overnight as they tried to reach Kos.
The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR says more than 2,500 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year.
Migrants, many of whom have paid over $1,000 to smugglers for the risky passage, are taking advantage of the calm summer weather which makes this the best time for the crossing. (AFP)