The Current

Alan Kurdi photo demands the world to care about refugees

The powerful image of Alan Kurdi's lifeless body, washed up on the beach of Turkey, has focused the word's attention on the dire situation Syrian refugees face. The photograph forms a narrative in a way almost nothing else has, propelling a public outcry for action.
A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of a migrant child after a number of boats capsized, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (DHA/Associated Press)

WARNING: This post contains disturbing images

The refugee crisis is a story that's taken on a new urgency this week thanks in large part to a photograph, an image, that's having ripple effects of its own... the images of the three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi lying face down, washed up on the shore in Turkey.

A paramilitary police officer investigates the scene before carrying away the lifeless body of Alan Kurdi, 3, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015 (AP/DHA)

He and his family -- father, mother and five-year-old brother -- had fled Syria in a dinghy. Only the father survived. Alan Kurdi's aunt, Fatima Kurdi, who goes by Tima, lives in Coquitlam, British Columbia. 

Family of drowned Syrian boys speaks

6 years ago
Tima Kurdi, aunt of Alan and Galib Kurdi, speaks of her loss 1:59
...when the boat flipped upside down, and the wave keep pushing him down, those two boys they were in his arms... and screamed 'daddy please don't die' - Fatima   Kurdi , Alan  Kurdi's  aunt

The photo of Alan Kurdi -- as simple as it is devastating -- has sparked anger, sadness and outrage unmatched by any of them. 

To discuss the ripple effects of this photo, we convened two people who have thought a lot about it.

  • David Walmsley is Editor in Chief of the Globe and Mail.  His paper published a wide shot of Alan Kurdi on its front page yesterday.  He was in Toronto.  
  • Patty Rhule is the director of exhibit development at the Newseum, a museum dedicated to the news.  She was in Washington. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry, Sonya Buyting and Gord Westmacott.

There has been no shortage of devastating photographs coming out of the civil war in Syria and the refugee crisis that has followed.

Here are 6 iconic photos that captured the world's attention.

Vietnam napalm attack

In this June 8, 1972, file photo, South Vietnamese forces follow behind terrified children, including nine-year-old Kim Phuc, centre, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places. (Nick Ut/AP)

Abu Ghraib​  
One in a series of shocking images, this photo shows an unidentified detainee standing on a box with a bag on his head and wires attached to him in the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)

Oka crisis 
Canadian soldier Patrick Cloutier and Saskatchewan Native Brad Laroque alias Freddy Kruger, come face to face in a tense standoff at the Kahnesatake reserve in Oka, Que., Saturday Sept. 1, 1990. (Shaney Komulainen/Canadian Press)
Tiananmen Square 
In this June 5, 1989 file photo, a Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Changan Blvd. from Tiananmen Square (Jeff Widener/Associated Press) (Jeff Widener/AP)
Woolworth's sit-in 
This May 28, 1963, file photograph shows a sit-in demonstration at a Woolworth's lunch counter in Jackson, Miss., where whites poured sugar, ketchup and mustard over heads of the demonstrators. Seated at the counter, from left, are John Salter, Joan Trumpauer and Anne Moody. (Fred Blackwell/Jackson Daily News/AP)

Viet Cong execution 
In this Feb. 1, 1968, file photo, South Vietnamese Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan, chief of the National Police, fires his pistol into the head of suspected Viet Cong officer Nguyen Van Lem on a Saigon street, early in the Tet Offensive. (Eddie Adams/AP)