A photograph of dead three-year-old Aylan Kurdi on a Turkish beach has sparked outrage and horror across the world, giving a face to the human cost of Europe’s refugee crisis. Warning: contains graphic images.
Images of a tiny child in a red t-shirt and blue shorts spread like wildfire on social media on Wednesday, showing the dangers risked by those fleeing conflict who seek to find a better life in Europe. The photographs dominated headlines across the continent as tensions reached a fever pitch between EU member states over how to tackle the huge influx of refugees.
"If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?" asked British daily the Independent.
A Turkish rescue worker identified the boy as Aylan Kurdi, 3, one of 12 Syrians who died when their boats sank between Turkey and Greece. The bleak image was circulated under the hashtag "KiyiyaVuranInsanlik" or "Humanity Washed Ashore."
Aylan Kurdi, whose 5-year-old brother also reportedly drowned, was found by the Turkish resort of Bodrum.
"European countries' worrying approach to the flow of migrants has caused sorrow and it has been evaluated that the issue should be taken up in a basic human rights perspective," said a statement from Turkey's National Security Council.
According to the Canadian press, a Syrian woman who lived in the Vancouver area had tried to sponsor Aylan and his brother Galip, who also lost his life. Teema Kurdi, identified as the sister of the boys' father Abdullah, who survived, had her plea rejected by immigration officials, lawmaker Fin Donnelly said.
On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council said it was working on a draft resolution that may allow Europe to better tackle the crisis by permitting an EU naval force to seize boats run by migrant smugglers in international waters.
EU members at odds
France, Italy and Germany have called for a renegotiation of European asylum rules so that a "fair distribution" of refugees is assured. In Britain, where Prime Minister David Cameron's government has accepted a much lower number of asylum seekers than other countries in proportion to its population, petitions for Britain to open its doors to more refugees have garnered tens of thousands of signatures.
Meanwhile, Hungary has become a new epicenter of the crisis as a huge wave of new arrivals has been barred from leaving for Germany by authorities citing the Dublin Regulation which stipulates that asylum applications must be processed in the first EU country the applicant sets foot in.
Some 2,000 migrants were forced to leave Budapest's Keleti train station, prompting them to protest and chant "Germany! Germany!" Hungary's government has received sharp criticism from Berlin, which has borne a great deal of the burden of the refugee crisis with Germany expecting 800,000 asylum seekers to have arrived by the end of 2015.
es/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)