In Depth

Migrant crisis: photos of dead Syrian boy 'wake-up call' for PM

Graphic photographs of child washed up on Turkish beach should 'force the EU to come together'

Migrant crisis

Photographs of a dead Syrian child washed up on the shore in Turkey have been described as a "wake-up call" for David Cameron and the rest of Europe to help the record number of people fleeing conflict in their home countries.

A picture of the little boy being carried by a Turkish official features on the covers of several UK newspapers today, some dedicating their entire front pages to the image.

The boy is believed to be one of 12 Syrian refugees who had been trying to cross the Mediterranean on two boats headed to the Greek island of Kos.

The Independent has defended its decision to publish a more graphic image of the boy lying face down in the sand, arguing that "it is all too easy to forget the reality of the desperate situation facing many refugees". If these "extraordinarily powerful images" don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, "what will?" asks the newspaper.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the pictures were "beyond horrific" and are "the wake-up call David Cameron needs", while the Daily Mirror says the pictures are a wake-up call not only for Cameron, but for all of Europe.

"On our Continent and off its shores a terrible humanitarian tragedy is unfolding, which shames all those governments, including the British, which turn their backs on desperate people," says the newspaper. "To save others, let the awful death of that boy be the moment we all stood up to be counted by doing the right thing."

The photographs have spread across social media, with many praising the power of photojournalism. However, some accused sections of the media of hypocrisy, pointing out that calls to keep migrants out of the UK have turned to calls for humanity, on the axis of a photograph. Others expressed dismay that it took a photograph to inspire compassion when more than 220,000 people had already died in the Syrian conflict.

But human rights activists have argued that the distressing images need to be seen and that they could act as a catalyst for the international community to take action.

Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children, told The Guardian: "This tragic image of a little boy who's lost his life fleeing Syria is shocking and is a reminder of the dangers children and families are taking in search of a better life. This child's plight should concentrate minds and force the EU to come together and agree to a plan to tackle the refugee crisis."

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