World wakes up to Syria’s struggle and hardship

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SHAFAQNA - The photo of a three-year-old Syrian toddler lying face down on the beach after he and his family drowned has sparked outcry worldwide, reflecting the heartbreaking horrors of the Syrian refugees human tragedy.

The “tragic image of a little boy who’s lost his life fleeing Syria is shocking and is a reminder of the dangers children and families are taking in search of a better life,” Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children, told the Guardian.

“This child’s plight should concentrate minds and force the EU to come together and agree to a plan to tackle the refugee crisis.”

The photos of the young toddler, identified as Aylan, washed up on a beach near Bodrum in Turkey after a failed attempt to cross the sea to Greece has been widely shared and discussed across the world on Wednesday.

The young boy has reportedly drowned along with his five-year-old brother Galip and their mother, Rihan. Their father, Abdullah Kurdi, survived.

“I came to the sea and I was scared. My heart is broken,” a local fisherman who discovered the bodies on the shore said.

The young Syrian family reportedly sought asylum in Canada before attempting the journey, but their refugee application was turned down.

Teema Kurdi, Abdullah’s sister who lives in Vancouver, told Canada’s National Post newspaper that she had been trying to help them leave the Middle East.

“I was trying to sponsor them […] but we couldn’t get them out, and that is why they went in the boat,” she said.

First released by the Turkish News Agencies Dogan, the image has been trending worldwide on Twitter under the #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (“humanity washed ashore”) hashtag.

Though many media outlets refrained from publishing the distressing photo, many decided later to publish the images as a way to confront Europeans with a “stark reminder” that “more and more refugees are dying in their desperation to flee persecution and reach safety.”

Explaining why it published the un-edited photos prominently on its homepage, the UK-based Independent said it made the decision “because, among the often glib words about the ‘ongoing migrant crisis,’ it is all too easy to forget the reality of the desperate situation facing many refugees.”

Anger

Triggering anger online, the image had little reaction from European leaders.

In its part, the Independent urged in its editorial on Thursday morning that time has come to take a stand and help refugees.

Urging British people to take photos of themselves holding a sign saying, “Refugees Welcome”, it added that those photos should be tweeted under the hashtag #refugeeswelcome as well as signing a petition to the same end.

The Independent’s sister publication, i100, went further on the necessity of the general public seeing the photos, issuing an open letter to “anyone who ever talked down the refugee crisis.”

The letter addresses a cross-section of individuals and groups of people who have framed the plight of refugees seeking asylum in Europe as a “migrant crisis”, specifically British PM David Cameron, Theresa May, Nigel Farage, the Daily Express, protesters in Germany, Katie Hopkins, Philip Hammond, anyone who has ever written a disparaging comment on a Mail Online article, police in Hungary, the governments of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia, the people of Britain, Czech police, tourists in Kos, Tony Abbott, cartoonists, Ukip MEPs and people on Twitter

“Some of you have hauled refugees off trains and written numbers on their arms. Some of you have simply built a wall,” the letter read.

“Somehow you’ve lost sight of the simple fact that our fellow humans are in dire need of help, having fled death and destruction in their homelands only to face an even more perilous journey into Europe.

“Somehow you’ve stopped seeing refugees, and they are refugees, for what they are, and tried to deny them the assistance they are legally, and morally, entitled to.

“But it has to end, and end now. It has to end because people are dying in their thousands, because Europe’s reputation as a champion of human rights is disintegrating, because if we don’t act now we will regret it for the rest of our history,” it added.

“Enough is enough,” the letter concluded. “Attitudes have to change. See the human and not the imagined danger that anything is under threat apart from these people’s lives.  A refugee crisis unlike any other since the Second World War is unfurling on our doorstep and now is the time to help people who need it the most.”

Some 350,000 migrants have made the perilous journey to reach Europe’s shores since January this year, according to figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday.

The IOM said more than 2,600 migrants had drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean in the same period.

Earlier this week, the Turkish government said its 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.

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