A young Syrian refugee boy found lying face-down on a beach near Turkish resort of Bodrum was one of at least 12 Syrians who drowned attempting to reach Greece
These heartbreaking pictures of the tiny body of a refugee boy who died alongside his brother on the perilous journey across the Mediterranean today highlight the dire need to compassionately address one of the largest refugee crises the world has ever seen.
Little Galip, five, and Aylan Kurdi, three, were on an overcrowded dinghy filled with refugees fleeing the war in Syria when it capsized shortly into the crossing to the Greek island of Kos.
The picture, taken on Wednesday morning, depicted the dark-haired toddler, wearing a bright-red T-shirt and shorts, washed up on a beach, lying face down in the surf not far from Turkey’s fashionable resort town of Bodrum.
Aylan and Galip, who were not wearing lifejackets, did not stand a chance when the boat overturned in the dead of night. Turkish officials, corroborating the reports, said 12 people died after two boats carrying a total of 23 people, capsized after setting off separately from the Akyarlar area of the Bodrum peninsula. Among the dead were five children and a woman. Seven others were rescued and two reached the shore in lifejackets but hopes were fading of saving the two people still missing.
A second image portrays a grim-faced policeman carrying the tiny body away. Within hours it had gone viral becoming the top trending picture on Twitter under the hashtag #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (humanity washed ashore).
Greek authorities, coping with what has become the biggest refugee crisis in living memory, said the boy was among a group of refugees escaping Islamic State in Syria.
Their lifeless bodies, still clad in tiny T-shirts and shorts, washed up on the beach in Bodrum on Wednesday and boatmen alerted the authorities.
Aid agencies estimate that, over the past month, about 2,000 people a day have been making the short crossing to Greece’s eastern islands on rubber dinghies. So far this year, more than 2,500 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean, the UNHCR said.
There has over the last week 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.
The Turkish government said this week that 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.
According to a UNHRC report updated on August 29th, there are 4,088,087 registered Syrian refugees. This figure includes 2.1 million Syrians registered by UNHCR in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, 1.9 million Syrians registered by the Government of Turkey, as well as more than 24,000 Syrian refugees registered in North Africa.