How children are still dying at sea one year on from Alan Kurdi and that photo

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By Chris Harris
How children are still dying at sea one year on from Alan Kurdi and that photo

Exclusive: Hundreds of children have continued to drown and die at sea in the year since Syrian youngster Alan Kurdi was photographed washed up on a Turkish beach, Euronews can reveal.

The tragedy is we may never know exactly how many die at sea.

Sarah Crowe UNICEF spokeswoman

The image of the three year old – which emerged on September 2, 2015 – changed public opinion towards migrants and sparked EU efforts to try and deal with the issue.

But analysis of figures compiled by the International Organization for Migration show around 373 children have died crossing the Mediterranean in the following 12 months.

There has been a significant drop in child deaths at sea since the EU forged a deal with Turkey, which saw migrant numbers on the eastern Mediterranean route into Greece fall.

There were 311 child deaths from September last year to March, compared with 62 over the last six months.

The children who have died in the Mediterranean since Alan Kurdi

‘We may never know how many migrant children die at sea’

Sarah Crowe, spokeswoman for UNICEF, told Euronews although child deaths at sea had dropped, but so had the overall number of migrants coming into Italy and Greece.

She said: “It remains and is of great concern for us and anyone who is watching the situation. There’s been remarkable rescues this week but it just goes to show it’s not over.

“We must remember that children continue to risk their lives. The lucky ones of course are saved. But many are not. In fact the tragedy is we may never know exactly how many die at sea, particularly when it’s children and when they do not have family there and they are not necessarily accounted for when they leave the coast

“I don’t think you can make the assumption that the borders have changed so therefore the drownings have come down. I think you have to look at the overall picture – there are more operations at sea. Forty agencies were involved in this week’s rescue and they were not operational in the same way this time last year.”

Migrant children deaths in the Mediterranean since the death of Alan Kurdi

This graphic shows migrant children deaths against the total number of migrants arriving in Italy and Greece since September 2015.

The parallels between Alan Kurdi and Omran Daqneesh

Two boys, two iconic images and nearly a year between them.

But what parallels can we draw between Alan Kurdi, the boy pictured washed up on a Turkish beach in September 2015, and Omran Daqneesh, snapped in the back of an ambulance last month after being rescued from a bombed building?

Both, according to Crowe, have had stirred the world’s conscience to what is happening in Syria and humanised the story.

She said Kurdi had a very positive effect on Europe, helping to shift public opinion. It is perhaps too early to conclude what impact Daqneesh will have.

“I think you can definitely say those tragic images have the effect of being a real wake-up call on the world because you can immediately associate through the eyes of a child that it could be your child,” she said.

“The little boy in an ambulance and baby Alan immediately humanises the drama that a number of hundreds of thousands doesn’t.

“We can only hope it has a positive effect but we must remember it is never only one image of the one child, that one image just represents one story behind so many others that don’t have a name.”

Read more about the iconic images of children suffering in war.