PARIS — Shocking photographs of the body of a Syrian toddler, whose body had washed up on a Turkish beach after his family's failed attempt to reach Europe, are sparking global outcry. Will the publication of the hard-to-look-at images mark a turning point in raising global consciousness of the plight of refugees?
The series of images that capture the grim reality of the ongoing migrant crisis, come as at least 12 people drowned Wednesday in the Aegean Sea when two boats filled with refugees sank en route to the Greek island of Kos, Turkey's Anadolu official agency reports.
The first of the images taken by photographer Nilufer Demir of Turkey's private Dogan news agency, shows a Syrian boy identified as Aylan Kurdi, 3, face down on the beach of the southwestern resort town of Bodrum. A subsequent shot shows a Turkish police officer carrying the boy's lifeless body.
According to the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR), this latest tragedy adds to the 2,500 migrants who have died this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
The photos, which are already being likened to other famous harrowing shots in history, made the front pages of some newspapers around the world Thursday, though some editors chose not to publish the images in line with longstanding journalistic practices to avoid shocking readers. No top German newspapers chose not to feature the photographs, while Le Monde was the only major French daily to do so:
"Refugees: Europe in a state of shock after a new tragedy" —Le Monde
Italian daily La Stampa"s editor Mario Calabresi had doubts before finally deciding to print the image on the front page: "This photo will become part of history like the one of the Vietnamese girl whose skin burned with napalm or the boy with his hands raised in the Warsaw ghetto. It's the last chance to see if Europe's leaders are up to the challenge of history; and a chance for each one of us to face the ultimate sense of existence," he wrote Thursday in an op-ed.
"World shame" —Milliyet
"The little victim of a growing crisis' —The Washington Post
"How much longer?" —El Periodico
"Somebody's child" —The Independent
"What don't you understand?" —Ephemerida
"Sadness without borders' —La Nacion