Images spark outrage at the drowning of a Syrian toddler in the Mediterranean Sea after a failed attempt to reach Europe with his family
A photo of a Syrian toddler washed up dead on a beach in Turkey made news headlines around the world on Wednesday.
The child's name was Aylan Kurdi and he was three years old. He drowned in the Mediterranean Sea along with his five-year-old brother Galip and mother Rihan, according to the BBC.
The father, Abdullah, survived.
Much of the world's media has led with the image of Aylan lying lifeless on the shores of Bodrum in southwest Turkey. But social media users have also shared images of Aylan and his brother when they were alive, smiling and playing together.
Aylan (L) and Galip (R) (Twitter/@3z0ooz)
The boys were on one of two boats that departed Bodrum early on Wednesday and were headed for the Greek island of Kos. Both boats sank shortly after leaving the Turkish coast. Twelve bodies have been recovered from the sea, including those of five children. Nine people survived and two are still missing, presumed drowned.
The family, Kurds from Kobane in northern Syria, fled their homes after the Islamic State group had besieged their town earlier this year.
Abdullah Kurdi told his sister that all he wants to do now is return to Kobane and bury his wife and children.
“I heard the news at five o’clock this morning,” Teema Kurdi, Abdullah’s sister, told the National Post from her home in Canada’s Vancouver.
“All he [Abdullah] said was my wife and two boys are dead.”
Teema said the family had been hoping to eventually reach Canada – after travelling to Europe – and live with her. Earlier this year, Teema said, the family had a refugee application rejected by Canadian authorities due to complexities around them having already fled from Syria to Turkey.
The United Nations has reported that at least 230,000 people have been killed in Syria's brutal civil war, although the actual toll is thought to be much higher. More than 6.5 million people out of a population of 22 million have also been displaced by the conflict.
Thousands of people have died trying to reach Europe this year, with many fleeing conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. On 14 September European Union ministers will hold an emergency meeting to discuss solutions to the largest refugee crisis facing the continent since World War II.