In the case of the three year old Aylan Kurdi, the picture was a thousand times more powerful than the word. Aylan, his five-year-old elder brother Ghalib and mother Rehan died off the Turkish shores after their flimsy boat capsized and they fell to the mercy of an unforgiving sea. Like thousands of other migrants, Aylan’s family had hoped to make it across the Aegean Sea to the land of hope that Europe has seemingly become to the refugees in war-torn Middle East nations. The toddler’s last words to his father before the waves tore them apart, ‘Daddy, please don’t die’, has left Abdullah Kurdi shattered, his grief beyond words.
Soon after, pictures of Aylan’s body that had washed up on the Turkish shores flooded the social media, knocking on global conscious to wake and save millions of Aylan’s from impending death in the face of a better tomorrow. The said picture haunts the world, a constant reminder of what the world has failed to do; extend a simple hand of humanity to the thousands fleeing the conflicts that plague their homeland.
Not a day goes by without extensive coverage of the EU refugee crisis in the media. The European Union is facing a major surge in the number of refugees arriving at its doors and shores. An ever-increasing proportion of them are Syrians. From July 2014 to July 2015, there were almost 210,000 asylum applications in the EU by Syrian nationals. Official statistics state that 7.6 million Syrians are internally displaced while 4.2 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries, principally in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
Following the deaths of the children, the tide in Europe has changed to a more sympathetic tone. Aid and assistance is increasing at the ports where migrants are arriving to. However, progress is slow in the face of the dire crisis. Turkey, which had opened their borders and welcomed the migrants, has warned that they are reaching their capacity to house and take care of the migrants. Some European countries have been criticized for offering sanctuary only to a small number of refugees, or for discriminating between Muslims and Christians. There’s also been a good deal of continental hand-wringing over the general dysfunction of Europe’s systems for migration and asylum.
The saddest part of this global humanitarian issue is that most nations still remain blind to the situation. Arab and Muslim nations are yet to say or do anything regarding the issue, prompting many to question their humanity and intentions. Whatever the internal situation of the respective country maybe, it is time the world paid more serious attention to the issue. Otherwise, history will note that it was this moment, this hesitation that allowed thousands of other Aylan’s and Ghalib’s to die at the mercy of difficult and trying times.