Twelve migrants thought to be Syrian refugees were feared to have drowned off the coast of the Greek island of Kos on Wednesday after the boats carrying them sank. A number of bodies washed ashore on a beach in the Turkish resort town of Bodrum, probably connected to the disaster.
The images of the dead, captured by Dogan News Agency, soon circulated on social media. They included, most hideously, photographs of children.
The images, some of which appear above, show a tiny toddler lying lifeless on the sand. In others, we see a police officer picking up the corpse of a baby. The most heart-breaking one is a close-up of a drowned infant, his body so still and doll-like that he could be sleeping. It’s not pictured above, but you can see it here and elsewhere on social media, where it has become a tragic meme.
According to Reuters, Turkish media reported that the boy was 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a child from a largely Kurdish-dominated region in northern Syria. His 5-year-old brother also reportedly died on the same boat.
The scale of the Syrian refugee crisis is hard to grasp: About 11 million people (half of Syria’s population) have either died or fled their homes since the Syrian conflict began in 2011. About 4 million of that number have been forced out of the country.
This summer alone, tens of thousands of desperate Syrian refugees made the dangerous eastern Mediterranean passage, motoring on boats from Turkey to nearby islands in Greece — the first beachhead of the European Union — and, from there, embarking on a sometimes-perilous land journey toward Western Europe.
Aid agencies estimate that, in August, around 2,000 people attempted the tricky crossing to Greece’s eastern islands every day. On Tuesday, Turkish officials said their coastguard had rescued more than 2,160 migrants from the Aegean Sea in the week prior, and more than 42,000 over the course of the year.
SOURCE: Ishaan Tharoor
The Washington Post