Warning: These photos depict visible injuries and death and may be disturbing to readers.
It wasn’t until after the heartbreaking images of Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian boy who washed up on a beach with his family trying to get to Turkey on a migrant boat, went viral the world realized the tragic reality of the refugee crisis in Europe.
However, even that realization didn’t last long.
While Aylan’s photos prompted international outrage over the world leaders’ failure to deal with the humanitarian emergency in September, the world turned a blind eye to the number of refugee children who have died since.
More than 70 children have drowned in two months following Aylan’s tragic death, Save The Children said in a recently released statement. The already-staggering number is set to rise during winters as people continue to risk their lives while trying to flee wartorn countries to reach European shores via the Aegean Sea.
Doctors try to revive a baby after a boat with refugees sunk while crossing from Turkey to Lesbos. AP/Santi Palacios pic.twitter.com/QPnNqMvr3y— Santi Palacios (@SantiPalacios) October 28, 2015
Even if the refugees reach European shores, there is no guarantee of safety or a better life since the continent has started erecting fences to stem the flow of asylum-seekers who will face more problems as sub-zero temperatures start to set in.
“In winter we have snow, temperatures can fall to minus 10 or minus 15 degrees Celsius, we are worried about people arriving in sub-zero temperatures in future,” Boris Brinovec, assistant commander at the police station in Brezice, Slovenia, told The Guardian.
Children who arrive on boats in such bitter cold, soaking wet without proper shelter in makeshift camps suffer from low body temperatures, which can be fatal.
Just last week when a boat sank near the Greek coast of Lesbos, 17 children died and nearly 15 between the ages of 3 months and 10 years were taken to hospital with hypothermia, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
The situation has grown worse than how it was in September when Aylan’s images went viral but the international concern has regrettably diminished.
Germany is a case in point. The country, which was on the forefront to welcoming refugees from Syria, is now under mounting pressure to stop the influx of asylum-seekers.
However, now isn’t the time to back down, Save The Children concluded. European leaders need to provide more resources and immediate support to ensure that people arriving in the continent, especially children, are not dying of exposure to low temperatures.
Since January 2015, about 500,000 refugees have crossed into Greece while 3,000 others died making the dangerous journey. Around 1.4 million more refugees are expected to flee to Europe across the Mediterranean this year, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
Not all of them will be able to make it though.