Anniversary of Alan Kurdi drowning highlights continuing global shame

Amnesty International's picture

31 August 2016, 13:03 UTC

One year after the shocking image of Syrian boy Alan Kurdi’s drowned body caused international outcry, world leaders are still failing to respond to the refugee crisis, said Amnesty International today.

Marking the 2 September anniversary of Alan’s death, the organisation drew attention to the plight of thousands of other refugee children let down by the dismal failure of world leaders to tackle the refugee crisis. In July, negotiations ahead of the 19 September UN Refugee and Migrant Summit put the “Global Compact on Refugee Responsibility-Sharing” proposed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on ice until 2018.

As if the image of Alan’s lifeless body that shamed the world were not enough, one year later world leaders are still refusing to act.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

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“As if the image of Alan’s lifeless body that shamed the world were not enough, one year later world leaders are still refusing to act. Tragically, states have already passed up on a chance to address the crisis at a UN Summit on 19 September, which is set to fall far short of what is needed. We now face the prospect of another conclave of world leaders fiddling with hollow declarations while more children suffer,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

Until wealthy countries take more responsibility for the crisis unfolding before them, and take in a fairer share of the people fleeing war and persecution, they will be condemning thousands more children to risk their lives in desperate journeys or being trapped in refugee camps with no hope for the future.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

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“The outpouring of sympathy for Alan Kurdi seen last year must be extended to the countless other refugee children who are in dire need of help. Governments have dealt with the refugee crisis with narrow self-interest, as if the people they represent are incapable of extending their empathy beyond their own communities. It's time all of us started taking the refugee crisis personally and show our leaders that we welcome refugees.”

Three year old Ismail lives in a tent outside Elliniko old airport in Athens with his parents and two older brothers. The family fled from the war in Afghanistan. Children like Ismail spend most of their time outside this abandoned building, which is full of health and sanitary hazards.

Hadi is 3 and a half years old. His mother, Salwa Al Aji, is a 38 year old teacher from Damascus. They live in the Softex camp near Thessaloniki in Greece. Salwa travelled with three of her children and her husband, who cannot walk because of a slipped disc. She has tried to help set up a school in the camp but there are no books, and she is scared of the fights that happen every day. She told us, "I didn’t want to leave Syria, but our house was destroyed...I fled from war to find war in here”.



Mary, 13, from Awassa, Ethiopia, seen here at Mogadishu School, in the Kakuma refugee camp, Northern Kenya, 19 August 2016. "There was a war in my country, but I was young when I came here – I was seven. The journey was really bad when we were coming to Kenya. We struggled a lot. I came here with my mother and father and two brothers and one sister. Life is bad in the camp, there isn’t enough education. We need more education so that we can improve. We want a good education. Even the weather isn’t good. Sometimes it’s so hot we can’t even breathe, other times there is a lot of rain. Here in the art course they teach us well. Before I got on the course I didn’t even know how to draw, now I can. We have also learnt American games, which is good. My favourite thing in the art course is drawing a person and painting with watercolours. I would like to be a scientist. I want to visit other countries and see people like me who are struggling so that I can help them. I want to travel to different countries like a tourist and see wild animals."

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