A gigantic image of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler whose pictures stirred global sympathy for refugees fleeing war, has been put up in Frankfurt. The artists hope it will make Germans rethink their fears about refugees.
Thousands of commuters using the Main river walkway and bridge will now confront a 120-square-meter image of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who was drowned along with his mother and brother in September as the family tried to reach Europe. The artwork will stay on the wall until autumn, according to the artists.
"We are very sad about the children dying, and we are angry," said graffiti artist Justus Becker, who worked on the image with another artist, Bobby Borderline. "We want to work with issues facing our society," he added.
The artists have used 50 liters of wall paint and some 80 cans of spray paint to create the image of Kurdi's corpse, which has already become an iconic image representing the plight and misery of those fleeing conflict and war in countries like Syria, Iraq and Libya.
According to the UNHCR, more than 131,000 migrants and refugees - a higher number than the first half of 2015 - have reached Europe from the Middle East this year. Some 122,637, mostly fleeing the war in Syria, have landed in Greece.
A number of European states have blocked the refugee route to stem the flow of migrants. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is struggling to convince the European states to allow refugees to enter their territories share the collective burden. But the pressure on Merkel is also mounting domestically, as an increasing number of Germans appear wary of her migrant-friendly policy.
"We hope to have people emotionally rethink their selfish fears of refugees coming to Germany," 38-year-old Becker, who is known as COR, told Reuters news agency.
"It is a memorial piece representing all children who died fleeing from war to Europe," Becker said. "Their lives matter."