Europe to address migrant issue after global outrage

RSTV Bureau

david-cameron-1A horrifying picture of a dead three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on the shore of Turkey, has caught the world’s attention. The migrant crisis of Europe and the plight of refugees fleeing war-torn countries is finally in focus.

Aylan Kurdi’s picture went viral on social media generating a backlash at the developed European nations which so far reportedly took nimble steps for the refugees. The picture went viral with the tag ‘humanity washed ashore’.

Aylan’s body was found on a Turkish beach, two days ago. The picture that went viral is quite disturbing and it shows a small boy lying on the sand with his face to the ground. The image has now become the face of the human tragedy in the worst migrant crisis that Europe has ever seen.

Aylan was on his way to Greece with his family — father, mother and a 5-year old older brother. Father Abdullah Kurdi turned out to be the only survivor of the family. A total of 12 people died after two boats capsized while trying to reach the Greek island of Kos. The two boats which had set off from the Akyarlar area of Bodrum peninsula in Turkey were carrying 23 people.

“I remember that we left for the boat, the smuggler took me to that point after an hour approximately, to a Turkish man. He put us in a boat, 12 people. The boat became heavy. With the man leading it, we became 13. We sailed in the sea for approximately four-five minutes. The man steering the boat saw that the sea is high, the wave was high. We were hit by the first wave and he escaped. He jumped into the water and escaped away. I tried to take over the steering but we were hit by another wave, the boat capsized. I grabbed my children and my wife, they died,” Abdullah told in Turkey.

Abdullah was ultimately headed to Canada with his family. His motive was to flee his war-torn hometown of Kobani in Syria. Reports say that he had earlier paid smugglers twice to take him and his family to Greece but their efforts had failed.

The family had made a privately-sponsored refugee application to immigrate to Canada but his application was rejected in June becasuse of complications with applications from Turkey, said Teema Kurdi, Abdullah’s sister who is a resident of Vancouver.

Canada’s Conservative government has also come under fire from its political opponents. The Canadian government has now offered him a citizenship but Abdullah has decided not to take it up.

Aylan’s heart-wrenching image has managed to put pressure on European leaders. According to reports, the UK is working on a package to accommodate and give asylum to fleeing Syrians. The Unite Nations has said that the EU must accept up to 2 lakh refugees and mobilise full force for the crisis. UN’s remark comes ahead a EU meeting later this month, which is expected to chalk out a strategy to find a solution to the crisis.

Turkey is said to have taken in two million refugees since the Syrian civil war began in March 2011, spending $6 billion in providing for them. But the country has now warned that it is reaching its capacity, thereby forcing thousands to make the perilous journey from Turkey to Greece by boat in a bid to enter Europe.

“I just want to sit next to the grave of my children and my wife and rest,” cried Abdullah who lost everything just in the hope of a better future without the shadow of war.

Kobani, the family’s hometown, has been the scene of intense fighting over the last year. In recent months Kurdish regional forces have been trying to repel attempts by Islamic State to recapture the town. Tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing the war have descended on Turkey’s Aegean coast this summer to board boats to Greece.

Meanwhile the Turkish Army has said its search and rescue teams have saved hundreds of migrants in the high seas between Turkey and Greek islands over the last few days.

The U.N. refugee agency estimates that almost 160,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece by sea since the start of 2014. In July itself more than 50,000 people, mostly Syrians, arrived in Greece.

(With inputs from agencies)