WARNING: This post contains content some viewers may find disturbing. Discretion is advised. The image above has been cropped for discretion, but it appears in an image slider below in its entirety.
With the situation for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants growing even more desperate by the day, an image taken by a Turkish* photographer Wednesday morning could be the photograph that conveys the risk refugees are taking to seek a safer life in Europe.
The image shows the body of a young boy — a toddler — washed up on the shore near the Turkish resort of Bodrum.
The Turkish rescue worker stands over the boy’s limp body, face down on the beach, the tide washing up against his lifeless face.
WARNING: This below image contains content some viewers may find disturbing. Discretion is advised.
After the image emerged, the hashtag #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (humanity washed ashore) became a trending topic on Twitter, Reuters reported.
According to The Independent, it’s believed the boy is Syrian and was among a group of refugees who had departed in a boat bound for the Greek island of Kos — a hub for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
IN PHOTOS: Powerful images of Europe’s migrant crisis
The boy, whose body hung like a doll in the rescue worker’s arms as he carried him away from the waterline, was one of 12 refugees believed to have drowned in the waters of the Aegean sea early Wednesday.
Reuters reported there were two separate boats, carrying 23 passengers between them, that set out overnight from an area of the Bodrum peninsula called Akyarlar. Both boats ran into trouble and capsized.
According to Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency, 11 of the drowning victims were found near the first boat, while the body of another child was floating near a dinghy in the water. Anadolu reported search crews were able to save three people, but two others were missing.
Kos is just 5 kilometres off the coast from Akyarlar, but it and other Greek islands have become a gateway to the European Union. The Greek Coast Guard has been forced to rescue hundreds of people each day.
More than 234,000 people — an estimated 80 per cent of them Syrian — have arrived in Greece by boat so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration’s latest numbers.
Region-wide, some 350,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas to Europe; as of Sept. 1, at least 2,634 have died trying to make that journey, the IOM reported.
There are more than 4 million Syrian refugees fleeing a brutal civil war and the threat of atrocities carried out by the militant group ISIS. They have fled to neighbouring countries — including more than 1 million in Turkey.
As scenes of anger and frustration play out in Hungary, where thousands of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants have been prevented from boarding trains for bound for Germany, The Independent wrote this about the distressing photo of this young boy:
“They are extraordinary images that serve as a stark reminder that, as European leaders increasingly try to prevent refugees and migrants from settling in the continent, more and more refugees are dying in their desperation to flee persecution and reach safety.”
Here’s a look at the European migrant crisis by the numbers:
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this post credited the photo to a Reuters photographer. It was in fact released via the Turkish agency DHA and distributed to international agencies.