Everything I dreamt of gone, says drowned three-year-old migrant’s father
• UNICEF, Cameron, others mourn
Images of a drowned Syrian boy’s body washed ashore on a Turkish beach caught the world’s attention yesterday and highlighted the tragic plight of thousands of migrants who are fleeing the war-torn region and the brutality of Islamic terrorists, to seek safety and asylum.
Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi was one of at least 12 Syrians who drowned trying to reach the Greek island of Kos.
At least a quarter of those seeking refuge in Europe are children. In the first six months of this year, more than 106,000 children claimed asylum there.
“And we should never forget what lies behind so many of the stories of families seeking sanctuary in Europe: terrible conflicts such as that in Syria, which already has forced some two million children to flee their country. Only an end to these conflicts can bring an end to the misery of so many,” said the Executive Director of UNICEF, Anthony Lake.
The distressing pictures show Aylan, wearing a red T-shirt and blue shorts, lying face-down in the sand in Bodrum, a popular resort city, before a Turkish police officer carries his body away.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “deeply moved” by the image of Aylan, adding the United Kingdom (UK) would fulfill its “moral responsibilities” towards refugees.
“Britain has always been a home to real asylum seekers, genuine refugees,” Cameron said.
Several members of Cameron’s Conservative party have called on the government to grant more refugees asylum.
“The UK I know has always shouldered its burden in the world…we can and must do more at home,” said Ruth Davidson, the leader of the party
The images quickly spread across the Internet under the hashtag “#KiyiyaVuranInsanlik,” which means “humanity washed ashore,” drawing renewed attention to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
The widely shared image triggered intense emotions and left many who saw it seeking ways to take action to help those displaced by Syria’s civil war, including Nawaz Sawis, an Egyptian billionaire, who, moved by the human tragedy of the migrants’ plight, is now offering to buy an Island off Italy or Greece. He plans to put in infrastructure to accommodate the migrants.
Also, Claire Nelson, a Glasgow-based businesswoman who took to Twitter after she saw the pictures, said in an email to Yahoo News: “I stared at this picture this morning, really stared, and then I sobbed. Deeply and desperately sobbed. I sobbed for this child, his mother, his father and siblings. I sobbed for the others like him that we have seen washed ashore like litter on the beach.
“I’m not entirely sure what I can do to help this situation,” she continued. “But I do know that I cannot sit back and pretend that this isn’t happening. (I can’t pretend) that that boy washed up on the shore wasn’t once a carefree, happy child like one of my own, that there aren’t desperate parents trying to fight for and protect their children at our shores and borders. I will look and see and feel — because someone has to.”
Cameron was widely criticised for saying that the answer to the refugee crisis was bringing stability to the Middle East rather than accepting migrants into the United Kingdom, which has provided a safe haven for fewer refugees than any other European country. The comments became particularly divisive hours later when the images of Aylan appeared.
The pictures were published on the front pages of several prominent British newspapers, including the Sun, the Independent and the Daily Mail.
Nadhim Zahawi, a member of parliament from Cameron’s Conservative Party, said that the image should bring shame and that world leaders are failing in Syria.
UNICEF seeks global intervention to save children
Mr. Lake, the executive director of UNICEF, in a statement described the “images of children’s bodies washing up on the shores of Europe … lying suffocated in the backs of trucks crossing borders … being passed over barbed wire fences by desperate parents,” as “heart-breaking.”
He said: “As the migrant and refugee crisis in Europe deepens, these will not be the last shocking images to ricochet around the world on social media, on our televisions screens and on the front pages of our newspapers,” he said.
“But it is not enough for the world to be shocked by these images. Shock must be matched by action.
“For the plight of these children is neither by their choice nor within their control. They need protection. They have a right to protection.
“We urge that the following measures be taken:
• Protect these children through the provision of essential services at all times – including health care, food, emotional support, and education – and adequate shelter for migrants and refugees that keeps families together.
• Deploy adequate numbers of trained child welfare experts to support children and their families.
• Continue search and rescue operations – not only at sea, but also on land, as families move across countries – and make every effort to prevent the abuse and exploitation of migrant and refugee children.
• Put the best interests of children first in all decisions made regarding these children – including in asylum cases.
“Our hearts go out today to the families who have lost children – off the coasts, on the shores, and along the roadsides of Europe. As the debates on policies proceed, we must never lose sight of the deeply human nature of this crisis.