Viral photos of drowned Syrian boy sparks global outpouring of sympathy for refugees

Two-year-old Syrian migrant Aylan Kurdi, who drowned in a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos, lies on the shore in the Turkish coastal town of Bodrum, Turkey. At right, Aylan is held by his mom Rehan in this undated photo provided by the Kurdi family on Sept. 3, 2015. Rehan also drowned together with Aylan and another son.Reuters

Photos of a Syrian boy found dead on a beach in Turkey have been circulating around social media, triggering an outpouring of sympathy for the millions of refugees from war-torn areas trying to enter European countries.

The heartbreaking images of two-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying lifeless in the sand near Bodrum, one of Turkey's most popular tourist destinations, shocked Internet users. The little boy's body was picked up and carried by a police officer as shown in the photographs.

The little boy's mother and brother were among the 12 migrants from Syria who perished when the two boats they were riding capsized off the Turkish coast. The boats were en route to the Greek island of Kos, where the migrants were hoping to find refuge.

Abdullah, the father of the drowned kid in the viral photos, broke down when he heard of what happened to his wife and two young children.

"I don't want anything else from this world. Everything I was dreaming of is gone. I want to bury my children and sit beside them until I die," he said.

On Twitter, the hashtag "KiyiyaVuranInsanlik," which means "humanity washed ashore" became one of the trending topics when little Kurdi's photos went viral, with users tweeting sympathy for the refugees.

The tragic photographs also ended up on the front pages of major newspapers around the world. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the Daily Mail's headline read "Tiny victim of a human catastrophe."

The Independent, meanwhile, launched a petition calling on the British government to accept "its fair share of refugees." The petition gained the support of 10,000 individual in a matter of hours.

"If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?" The Independent said in an editorial.