Friday 20 April 2018

A symbol of despair, washed up on a beach

The body of little Aylan (3), who died along with his mother and five-year-old brother as they tried desperately to escape Syria for a new life in Europe, is washed up on the idyllic Turkish sands at Bodrum. Photo: Reuters
The body of little Aylan (3), who died along with his mother and five-year-old brother as they tried desperately to escape Syria for a new life in Europe, is washed up on the idyllic Turkish sands at Bodrum. Photo: Reuters
Police officers investigate the scene before carrying the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi (3), lifting it from the sea shore, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum. Photo: AP
Hungarian police officers block the entrance of the Keleti train station for refugees in Budapest, Hungary. Photo: Reuters
A child holds a self-made placard reading "SOS help me" outside the railways station in Budapest, Hungary. Photo: Reuters
Amam, a17-year-old refugee from the Syrian town of Latakia has tears in his eyes as he cries for his sister and mother who were detained by Hungarian police outside the railways station in Budapest, Hungary. Photo: Reuters

Peter Foster and Nick Squires in Izmir

It is an image that captures the human tragedy of Europe's migrant crisis: a Turkish border guard tenderly cradling the lifeless body of a Syrian-Kurdish child, washed ashore on the beach of a holiday resort.

The body of the little boy, still dressed in bright red T-shirt and shorts, was found lying face-down in the surf on the beach near the resort town of Bodrum, 400km west of the city of Antalya on Turkey's idyllic Turquoise Coast.

As Europe's politicians struggle to reach consensus over how best to handle the worst migrant crisis since the Second World War, the image of the dead child was published across the internet under headings such as "humanity washed ashore".

The boy was among 23 migrants who Turkish naval officials said had set off in two small boats from the Bodrum peninsula in a failed attempt to reach the Greek island of Kos, where thousands of migrants have arrived in recent weeks.

He was named by the Turkish state news agency as one of two brothers who both died: five-year-old Galip Kurdi and three-year-old Aylan. Three other children also died.

Their parents were among four survivors out of 23 passengers on two boats who set off from Turkey for the island of Kos. The couple went to a mortuary to say their goodbyes, but collapsed with grief and exhaustion and were taken to hospital.

The deaths at Bodrum were only the most heart-breaking incident in another day of crisis along Europe's troubled borders,

Two ships carrying more than 4,200 people travelled to Piraeus port overnight after leaving the island of Lesbos, another destination that has been deluged in recent weeks with migrants escaping North Africa and the war-torn Middle-East.


More than 2,000 migrants remained stranded outside the main railway station in Budapest after Hungarian police refused to allow them to board trains to Germany and beyond.

A Hungarian government spokesman accused the German government of exacerbating the crisis by creating a "set of misunderstandings" that they would "take anyone who says they come from Syria".

Mehmet Ali, a Syrian migrant among the several hundred demonstrating in front of a police line blocking access to Keleti train terminal, complained at his treatment at the hands of the police, but said he would not be deterred from trying to reach Germany.

"We will stay here to the end," he said, adding that many of the migrants had been finger-printed. Conditions outside the station have become increasingly grim, with only one shower facility for about 2,000 people.

"They play with us like a football," said Mohamad, a 34-year-old father of three who left his family in Damascus.


Police in Vienna rescued 24 young Afghan men from the back of a white van which had its doors welded shut, narrowly avoiding a repeat of an incident last week when 71 migrants were found to have suffocated in the back of a lorry in a lay-by outside the city.

The migrants, who were all young Afghan men aged between 16 and 20, were found crammed into an almost airtight space measuring just 11ft by 6ft and were in "grave danger", according to police. The driver, a 30-year-old Romanian, fled on foot, and did not stop even after a warning shot was fired. He was later discovered by a police dog, hiding nearby.


In Germany, which has unilaterally suspended the EU rules for Syrian asylum-seekers, there were signs of growing support for demands by Chancellor Angela Merkel for other European nations to share the burden of migrant flows.

A German internet service which connects refugees and citizens willing to share their homes said it had been overwhelmed by offers of accommodation and financial support.

The Berlin-based website has helped people from countries including Syria, Somalia, and Burkina Faso, with more than 780 Germans signing up to offer assistance. So far, 26 people have been placed in private homes, with 124 refugees matched overall across Germany and Austria.

Under the EU's Dublin regulation, migrants are supposed to apply for asylum in the first member state, and face deportation if they travel to another.

But Germany has said it will not deport Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country, and will process their applications.

This approach has angered smaller eastern European countries, including Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which have become routes for tens of thousands of migrants attempting to cross Europe to reach Germany, Sweden and other rich northern EU states.

Bohuslav Sobotka, the Czech prime minister, has called for a meeting with his Austrian and Slovak counterparts to discuss the crisis in the region.

As Brussels attracted mounting criticism for its apparent inaction, the EC tried to challenge the narrative of failure, saying Jean Claude Juncker, the Commission president had been working "day and night" on the migrant issue.

EU defence ministers met in Luxembourg yesterday to discuss moving the EU military operation in the Mediterranean into a second phase that would involve seizing trafficking vessels in international waters. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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