Refugee crisis in Europe continues to escalate as Syrian civil war rages on

By: Regina Wright ~Staff Writer~

syrian refugee
Photo courtesy of Relatives of the boys who drowned after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea release balloons in their memory.

Early in the morning on Sept. 2, a small boy’s body washed ashore on a Turkish beach. The image has become the symbol of the refugee crisis that Europe is experiencing. Identified as Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian native, the two-year old was found lying on the beach wearing a red T-shirt and black shoes, with sand covering his face.Kurdi was traveling with his mother, Rehen, brother, Galip, and father, Abdullah, trying to reach the Greek island of Kos.

According to Abdullah, the Kurdi family boarded a small boat in Turkey manned by two smugglers and filled with 12 other people. Faced with civil war at home, many Syrians are fleeing their home country and trying to reach other countries such as Canada, Austria, Greece and Germany.

Traveling across the choppy, rough water of the Mediterranean Sea, the ship was abandoned by one smuggler before it capsized, leaving 12 migrants and the Kurdi family to drown. Abdullah Kurdi was the only one that survived. The family was trying to reach Greece, then planned to travel through Switzerland to Canada, where Abdullah’s sister lives.

On Friday, Aylan, his mother and his brother’s bodies were transported from the Turkish city of Istanbul to their hometown of Kobani, Syria. Abdullah said in an interview that he will stay in the war-torn city where his family is to be buried.

Europe’s shores are the destination of many migrants and refugees fleeing their country in pursuit of a better life. According to The International Organization for Migration, more than 2,600 people have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean, with numbers only increasing.

According to the organization, an estimated 350,000 people have arrived in Europe this year. The photo of Aylan’s body washed ashore has sparked criticism of Europe and its lack of action regarding refugees. It has also put a spotlight on the crisis refugees face while trying to flee their country.

Pope Francis has called for all Catholic institutions in Europe to provide shelter and other necessities for the flood of refugees who are making their way across the Mediterranean.