Aylan Kurdi’s body washed-up on a beach last year, and prompted a Turkish court to jail two men for human trafficking. The death of 3-year-old Aylan triggered worldwide sympathy for the refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war.
“A court in the resort city of Bodrum jailed two Syrian men, Mufawaka Alabash and Asem Alfrhad, for four years and two months for smuggling but cleared them of willful neglect,” according to The Telegraph.
Reportedly, the exact role of the two men in Aylan Kurdi’s drowning is unclear. Last September, the world responded to Aylan’s dead body lying on a beach in Bodrum, Turkey, with alarm. The 3-year-old and his family relied on human traffickers to flee the Syrian civil war on a dingy boat, but the journey across the sea from Turkey to Europe proved fatal.
“The court initially sentenced them to five years in prison each, but then reduced the term to four years and two months due to the defendants’ good behavior during the trial and other legal reductions,” ABC News reported.
Aylan Kurdi’s brother, Galip, and mother, Rihan, were also among the five victims who drowned, according to reports. The family tried to flee from the northern Syrian town of Kobani, which was reportedly besieged by ISIS militants.
Photographs of Aylan’s dead body on the beach triggered an anguished global response to the refugee crisis. Media outlets responded to the tragedy saying, “Humanity washed up ashore.”
Desde la trágica muerte de Aylan Kurdi más de 340 niños se han ahogado buscando la seguridad de Europa. https://t.co/oqSaYDFCp5— Jose Álvarez (@JoseAlvarezVe) February 23, 2016
As Aylan Kurdi’s body image went viral, the tragedy appropriated the misery of thousands of civilians fleeing the deadly civil war. Television and print media did their best to highlight the largest European migrant crisis in a generation, showing streams of refugees fleeing wars, insecurity, and poverty.
“According to the United Nations, at least 2,500 people were estimated to have died or gone missing during the journey last year.”
Aylan Kurdi’s drowning exposed the role of smugglers in the refugee deaths. It also triggered criticism of the European Union’s failure to deal with the crisis. Reportedly, unabated refugee influx continues to haunt the European nations. Clearly, there is lack of a unified approach to deal with the crisis.
The sentencing of the two men for their role in Aylan’s death comes before the Monday summit between Turkey and the European Union on the migrant issue. In November of last year, Turkey reached a deal with the EU to help combat the Syrian refugee influx. Reportedly, EU gave Ankara $3.2 billion, and actualized closer Turkey-EU relations in exchange for handling the refugee crisis.
The other incentives to Turkey include visa-free travel for Turkish citizens within the passport-free Schengen zone, and new prospects to realize Turkey’s EU membership bid.
Al Jazeera quoted German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying, “Turkey is hosting well over two million refugees and has received little international support so Turkey has a right to expect the European Union and its member states to help with mastering this task.”
Europe is expecting millions of refugees this year and Turkey is the major transit point. Under the deal, “Turkey will accept the systematic returns of non-Syrians and step up action against smugglers,” the Financial Times reported.
Seemingly, Aylan Kurdi’s judicial verdict could strengthen the relationship between Turkey and the European Union. Meanwhile, the cause of human suffering for tens of thousands of refugees continues. As billions of dollars changes hands to stem the flow of refugees, the world waits for more Aylans to wash up ashore.
[Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]