September 03rd, 2015. Across the world one image haunted millions of hearts.

There, on the gently lapping shores of Turkey’s southwest coastline, a tiny Syrian old boy, just 3 years of age, lay face down, emptied of life. His family’s hopes of a future of safety were now drowned in the waters between Greece and Turkey. Tragedy had gripped the life of the tiny tot.

Seeing the image ,the world was forced to look at the consequences of a growing humanitarian crisis: people leaving their homes and lives for the search of, the wish of, the desperate need for, a better life. Call them ‘immigrants‘. Call them’ refugees‘. In the end they are all the same – people seeking for better, somewhere else where safety and opportunity are hopefully waiting.

People dying to live.

This little boy, soon picked up like a little rag doll, his limbs dangling with having given up , was gone. What the soldier’s thoughts must have been, one can only imagine. And one can only assume that what looked like seawater droplets on the little child’s face were in fact teardrops having fallen from the eyes and heart of the soldier trying to keep even the little boy’s lifeless body safe.

Little Aylan left as his last cry the chilling, albeit silent, words of Look at me!!”

How does this happen? How can the world afford to turn away?

These unnatural moments of human tragedy have, sadly, become a critical triggers to finally, finally, activate caring – it takes one poignant image to open one global heart.

And now the world tunes in to watch the latest on the European migrant crisis with greater attention, greater care, greater concern….

Images such as that of little Aylan create for the world a silent yet deafening cry out for help – an appeal to look, understand, and please do something, turning an issue somewhere out there into an emergency everywhere. The need to understand, really understand what is happening, and see each victim as one heart desperately trying to keep beating, is what turns the lost souls in these iconic images into angels.

These little angels suddenly appear and force the attention of the world. And action.

While challenges may be localised somewhere on the globe, solutions are global. As strongly stated by Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, praised for her nation’s ‘here to help’, thought-trough approach to the crisis, her hope is that the European values will step forward, all nations, to demonstrate the values upon which the union was created. A life-saving example, and appeal, to the EU, and the world. A very rich perspective on the European crisis unfolding, and how best the European and global community can understand to be able to respond, is offered by the Head of UNHCR on

The image of little Aylan now joins the world’s photo collection of defining moments of our times, everpresent as haunting reminders of our need to never look away. And to see the faces that grip our hearts as messengers of what needs to take action.

For as expressed by Kim Phuc, a name known by few and yet an image familiar to the world, she being the young Vietnamese girl just 9 years of age captured in a horror-revealing image of 1972 Vietnam war, an image is often referred to as ‘the photo that changed the war’,: “Try not to see her as a symbol of war, but try to see her as a symbol for peace.”

A picture is worth a thousand words, a million cries for help, and the opportunity for millions, millions more to do something.



Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015