Hearts all over the world broke on Sept. 3 at the image of Aylan Kurdi, a little 3-year-old boy, who was photographed stomach-down and washed up on a beach in Turkey after he and his family fled Kobani, Syria. Another image that made many eyes well up with tears was a photo that depicted a policeman carrying away the body of Aylan. Reportedly, two boats carrying 23 people capsized and 12 people died, including Aylan.
As if that wasn’t heartbreaking enough, his 5-year-old brother, Galip, also passed away, along with their mother, 35-year-old Rehan. You can probably already guess that the father to the two little boys and husband to their mother, Abdullah Kurdi, is understandably completely distraught.
Kobani has been the site of brutal fighting between ISIS and Kurdish forces. In January, Kurdish forces took control of the city away from ISIS after four months of fighting, but the destruction left behind is unimaginable. Abdullah reportedly paid smugglers twice before to get him and his family to Greece, and when that didn’t happen, they tried to get there again. According to reports, they made their way through Turkey and had to cross a couple of miles through the Aegean Sea to get to Kos, a Greek Island. Abdullah stated that the boat they were in started taking on water, and when people panicked and stood up, the boat capsized. The captain apparently abandoned the boat after it was at sea for only four minutes.
The two pictures that have been making their way around the Internet are haunting and have resonated with a lot of people. Various hashtags, including #AylanKurdi, #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik, and #RefugeesWelcome, have been a huge part of social media since news broke of the tragedy. Below are just some of the many tweets that have made their way onto Twitter.
A heartbreaking photograph of a dead Syrian toddler whose lifeless body washed up on a beach in Turkey has focused the world's attention to the migrant crisis caused by millions of people displaced by war and hopelessness.
The image quickly went viral across social media, focusing public attention to the issue and potentially influencing government policies on immigration.
The toddler from the Kurdish city of Kobani has now become a powerful symbol, arguably doing more to draw sympathy for refugees than the staggering numbers of deaths.
Alan Kurdi was buried with his family in Kobani on Friday. But his sacrifice lives on.
Here is a selection of excerpts from the world's leading news media.
NEW YORK TIMES, Sept 4
"Once again, it is not the sheer size of the catastrophe — millions upon millions forced by war and desperation to leave their homes — but a single tragedy that has clarified the moment. It was 3-year-old Aylan, his round cheek pressed to the sand as if he were sleeping, except for the waves lapping his face.
“Rocketing across the world on social media, the photograph has forced Western nations to confront the consequence of a collective failure to help migrants fleeing the Middle East and Africa to Europe in search of hope, opportunity and safety.”
TIMES of LONDON, Sept 4
“Britain will take in thousands more people fleeing Syria’s civil war as David Cameron bows to a wave of pressure triggered by images of a three-year-old boy found drowned on a Turkish beach.
Downing Street spent yesterday scrambling to match public outrage and calls, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, for Britain to do more to alleviate the human cost of Europe’s gravest postwar migration crisis.”
The Washington Post (OPINION), Sept 3
“He is one among many, far too many. But the plight of one boy, washed up like a piece of debris on a Turkish beach, has focused the world’s attention on a wave of war-and-deprivation-fueled migration unmatched since World War II.”
“The plaintive photograph of lifeless Aylan Kurdi, seen around the world, has highlighted the desperation of those risking their lives to try to reach Europe, sparking fresh calls for countries to do more to ease their passage.”
Newsweek, Sept 4
“The circumstances under which the Kurdi family felt they had to flee to the safe shores of Europe became even clearer as the Syrian brothers' grandfather revealed that 11 of the family's relatives had been slaughtered at the hands of the Islamic State [ISIS] in the Kurdish-Syrian city of Kobane in June, just months after the mother, father and two boys had fled to Turkey.”
"For more than a year, we have begged the UN, the EU and Washington D.C. for safe havens, in the Nineveh Plains in Iraq and also in Kobane and Hassakah. World leaders did not listen," bemoans Kino, calling for solutions to stop the deaths of refugees such as the Kurdi family. "Now, the water between Turkey and Greece is full of dead bodies because of the lack of military, humanitarian and political support. This needs to end now."
The Guardian (OPINION), Sept 3
“Even now, one night and a day after the disaster, the detritus of their devastation still lines the beach. This was not the place any of them should have died: they had escaped Syria, tried Turkey and, in the form of the Greek isle of Kos, freedom now beckoned from across the sea.”
“Every night, they were awoken in their tents by migrants splashing about in the water, desperately trying to board boats for the nearest Greek island of Kos. “It happens almost every night at about 3am,” said Yildiz. “Sometimes they ask us for help, they want lifejackets, that sort of thing. It’s a terrible thing. If they stay in their own country they will die; if they come here they end up on the street. We’ve been here since April and more often than not we have felt upset, right under the sun, in front of all these tourists, on this lovely beach.”
"Aylan Kurdi, the three-year old refugee whose death at sea has become the central image of the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, should have been safely living in Vancouver, Canada, author and activist Naomi Klein said."
BBC, Sept, 4
“There can be little doubt now that the picture has in some way changed, rather than just documented, the refugee crisis unfolding into Europe. But what does it take for a single image to cut through where so many others failed? And why that particular image?”
“Images of Alan's body being recovered from a beach near Bodrum caused an outpouring of sympathy for the plight of those fleeing Syria's civil war and criticism of European governments for not doing enough to answer the crisis.”
Al Jazeera (OPINION), Sept 3
“Heart-rending pictures of a toddler's lifeless body washed ashore on a Turkish beach sparked horror as the cost of Europe's burgeoning refugee crisis hit home.”
“As Europeans reeled once again at the human cost of the biggest movement of people since World War II, top diplomats from France, Italy and Germany urged a rethink of European rules on asylum to allow for a fairer distribution of refugees throughout the 28-member bloc.”
“The call came as tensions soared between European states over how to tackle the huge influx of refugees, as thousands more arrived on the Greek mainland where more than 160,000 people have already landed this year alone.”
The Hurriyet Daily News, Sept 4
“I will have to pay the price for this the rest of my life,” the devastated father told mourners, after carrying his sons’ bodies himself to be buried in Kobane’s Martyrs’ Cemetery, where around 100 people attended the ceremony.
“The family were driven out of Kobane in June following fierce fighting between Kurdish militants and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, and Kurdi called for a “solution to the tragedies” gripping his country.”