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More Than 2,500 Migrants and Refugees, including Three-Year-Old Aylan, Have Drowned Since March Trying To Reach Europe

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A tragic photo of a three-year-old child who washed up on a Turkish beach has struck a nerve around the world and become a symbol of Europe’s refugee crisis.

The child, who fled Syria with his family for the safety of Europe, drowned with 11 others when the smuggler commanding their boat abandoned them in rough waters.

The child, his brother, and mother all drowned. Only the family’s father survived.

From the New York Times:

Photos of Aylan’s body lying face down on a Turkish beach were widely circulated on social media on Wednesday, escalating anger and frustration over the failure to help desperate families from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa fleeing war and mayhem.

Choking back emotion as he spoke, Mr. Kurdi described how he had flailed about while trying to find his children as his wife held onto the capsized boat.

“I started pushing them up to the surface so they could breathe,” he said. “I had to shift from one to another. I think we were in the water for three hours trying to survive.”

He watched helplessly as one exhausted child drowned, he said, then he pushed the other toward the mother, “so he could at least keep his head up.”

Mr. Kurdi then apologized, saying he could no longer speak, ending the conversation.

Turkish news agencies reported Thursday that the police had detained four Syrians suspected of involvement in arranging the passage of the boat that capsized with the Kurdi family. In all, 12 people drowned in the capsizing.

The BBC reports that more than 2,500 Middle Eastern and African refugees and migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean this year trying to reach Italy and Greece:

The largest migrant group by nationality in 2015 is Syrians, as people flee the country’s brutal civil war.

Afghans and Eritreans come next. They are often also fleeing poverty and human rights abuses.

People from Nigeria and Kosovo also make up large groups. Poor, marginalised Roma account for many of the migrants from Kosovo.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes made the case “that the U.S. can take in many thousands of Syrian refugees and every presidential candidate should be forced to answer why we shouldn’t”:

Others responded to the heartbreaking image of the child, and the overall humanitarian crisis, on Twitter as well:

The New York Times shared a harrowing account of two boats crammed with over 700 refugees and migrants, mostly all from Eritrea, attempting to cross the Mediterranean: