Click on the number for more info

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45

The drowning of Aylan Kurdi

The drowning of Aylan Kurdi
Short Url
Updated 30 May 2020

The drowning of Aylan Kurdi

The drowning of Aylan Kurdi

Images of the boy lying lifeless on a Turkish beach drew attention to refugees’ plight

Summary

In the early hours of Sept. 2, 2015, Abdullah Kurdi and his family boarded a small boat on the Turkish coast in hopes of reaching the Greek island of Kos. But it capsized about five minutes after departing from Bodrum.

Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, together with his older brother and his mother, died from drowning. The Kurdi family were Syrian Kurds trying to reach Europe amid the refugee crisis of 2015. Their ancestral town Kobani was devastated by battles between Kurdish fighters and Daesh, which had set up a proto-state spanning the Syria-Iraq border.

The images of Aylan’s lifeless body lying face down on a Turkish beach riveted the world’s attention on a burgeoning refugee crisis, illustrating the magnitude of the suffering, the lives destroyed, and the treacherous journeys people risked. That moment moved millions of hearts and caused a major change in European public perception of the unfolding humanitarian disaster. Germany alone agreed to take in an additional 50,000 refugees.

But the policy shift did not last. Since the peak of refugee crossings in 2015, another 10,000 have drowned in the absence of safe and legal ways to cross the Mediterranean Sea, according to the UN.

More than nine years after a popular uprising erupted in Syria against the regime of President Bashar Assad, a tense calm prevails in much of the country. But in 2015, a civil war was in full swing, entire cities were being razed to the ground, and Daesh had set up a proto-state spanning the Syria-Iraq border. Syrians displaced by the fighting tried in droves to embark for Europe in rickety vessels that plied the Mediterranean Sea. Thousands did not succeed.

The desperation and despondency that defined the period was captured for all eternity by images of a dead 3-year-old Syrian-Kurdish boy, Aylan Kurdi, lying face down on a beach in Turkey. The photos, taken by a Turkish journalist, quickly spread around the globe, shocking the world’s conscience and raising international awareness of the refugee crisis like no other event since the start of the war.

The Kurdi family’s tragedy struck such a powerful chord among both ordinary people and public intellectuals of Europe that the EU decided to loosen its borders, if only temporarily, to Syrian refugees. It later transpired that when their struggle for everyday survival as refugees in Turkey became too difficult, Aylan’s father Abdullah Kurdi and his family of five decided to make the precarious journey to what they believed was Europe’s safety.

Their ultimate destination was Canada, where they hoped to join their relatives in Vancouver. Tima Kurdi, an aunt of Aylan, had reportedly filed for refugee sponsorship for her extended family members under the Canadian immigration system.

Key Dates


  • 1

    Months after a political revolt begins in Syria, a refugee crisis erupts and grows into one of the biggest humanitarian emergencies of the 21st century.

    Timeline Image March 15, 2011


  • 2

    A European refugee crisis develops, with at least 300 migrants believed to have drowned after four inflatable boats sink off the coast of Libya.

    Timeline Image Feb. 9, 2015


  • 3

    Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi drowns as the boat that was carrying him and his family members toward Greece capsizes off the coast of Turkey.

    Timeline Image Sept. 2, 2015


  • 4

    His father and aunt establish the Kurdi Foundation to raise funds for nutritious meals, clothing and medicine for children in refugee camps.

    Timeline Image 2018


  • 5

    A regime offensive in Idlib province in northwest Syria sends yet another wave of refugees from Turkey toward Europe, resulting in the drowning of a 4-year-old boy off the coast of Greece.

    Timeline Image March 2, 2020

In the early hours of Sept. 2, the Kurdi family, whose roots were in the town of Kobani, boarded a small inflatable boat operated by human smugglers, which capsized about five minutes after departing from the Turkish city of Bodrum.

More than a dozen people had filled a vessel designed to fit eight, in the hope that they could make it to the Greek island of Kos in the Aegean Sea. Abdullah later said those on board had no functioning life vests or any way of protecting themselves.

Syrian refugees and other asylum-seekers continue to board unsafe boats and undertake the perilous journey across the Mediterranean toward Europe.

Emina Osmandzikovic

The trip across the Mediterranean had cost the lives of hundreds of migrants and refugees since the outbreak of wars in Syria and Iraq. But it was the death of Aylan that became at once a symbol of the conflicts and the European refugee crisis of 2015.

The Kurdish family’s tragedy resonated with me as a Bosnian on a deeply personal level. Forced to go into exile during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, my own family members found themselves scattered across the globe and left with no option but to re-establish ourselves from scratch.




A page from the Arab News archive showing the news on Sept. 3, 2015.

In a testament to the power of a few pictures, Aylan’s images moved millions of hearts, sparked a burst of hashtag activism and caused a major, if brief, change in European public perception of the refugee crisis. In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, Abdullah was flown home and provided with a police escort and a place to stay. Tima, herself a refugee, was invited to speak at the UN and the EU.

European news media experienced a shift in the language it used to describe the crisis, with the word “refugee” gaining precedence over “migrant.” Germany agreed to take in an additional 50,000 refugees, despite already being the largest refugee host country in Europe. But the policy shift did not last. As the refugee crisis intensified, many southern and eastern European nations closed their borders to Syrians.

Syrian refugees and other asylum-seekers continue to board overloaded, unsafe boats and undertake the perilous journey across the Mediterranean toward Europe. In total, the year 2015 witnessed more than 1 million arrivals and at least 3,500 deaths at sea. Since then, another 10,000 have drowned in the absence of safe and legal ways to cross the Mediterranean, according to the UN.

“The present surge in Europe is largely Syrians leaving their war-torn country, and in Europe the slanging match has reached an unfortunate high, with some countries blaming Russia for encouraging the Syrian conflict and being responsible for the flow of homeless humanity.”

Bikram Vohra in Arab News, Sept. 3, 2015

A political controversy erupted in Canada soon after Aylan’s drowning, when news broke that the country’s Department of Citizenship and Immigration had rejected Tima’s sponsorship request for a brother of Abdullah because it was deemed incomplete.

In 2018, she published a book about Aylan titled “The Boy on the Beach: My Family’s Escape from Syria and Our Hope for a New Home.” She wrote: “Everyone promised to do more, but the good will was short-lived.”

Tima and her brother now run the Kurdi Foundation, which works to deliver aid to children in refugee camps. In February 2019, Abdullah was invited to rename a German rescue ship “Alan Kurdi” in Palma de Mallorca in the Spanish Balearic Islands.

But in hindsight, the world has learned little from the Kurdi family tragedy. In February, during a new refugee wave by land and sea from Turkey, the first victim was another child, a 4-year-old-boy who drowned when a boat capsized off the coast of the Greek island of Lesbos.

  • Emina Osmandzikovic, whose family was forced into exile during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, writes about refugee issues for Arab News. Twitter: @eminaosmnandzik


Dubai teen-led tennis initiative raises awareness for autism 

Dubai teen-led tennis initiative raises awareness for autism 
Updated 8 min 34 sec ago

Dubai teen-led tennis initiative raises awareness for autism 

Dubai teen-led tennis initiative raises awareness for autism 
  • Two-week tournament saw a 32-draw men’s competition and a unisex under-14’s doubles contest
  • The initiative, called ACE FOR GOOD, was set up by high school student Hussein Nada

DUBAI: A tennis initiative set up by a Dubai teen has garnered support for Autism Awareness Month.

The initiative, called ACE FOR GOOD, was set up by high school student Hussein Nada in order to bring together tennis lovers to play in support of a good cause.

The initiative comprised of a tournament organized by Rackets Academy and 17-year-old Hussein.

“I decided to create ACE FOR GOOD’which will allow tennis players to give back to the community through supporting a charitable cause,” she told Arab News. “ACE FOR GOOD’s 2021 Dubai tournament perfectly (suited) Autism Awareness Month, (as did) the willingness of the tennis community to support and … make a difference.”

The two-week tournament saw a 32-draw men’s competition and a unisex under-14’s doubles contest.

It was backed by several sponsors including Brand for Less (BFL) Group, Daoud Group, Loca restaurants, Head, Marina Pharmacy Group and the Flower Co.

“BFL Group is so proud of this sponsorship, as we always strive to work for philanthropic causes, since this reflects our values. Nevertheless, sports and fitness-related activities always get our support as we believe in their key role in maintaining our mental health and wellbeing,” Yasser Beydoun, co-founder and managing partner of BFL Group, said.

“We salute Hussein for his initiative and efforts, which made us so excited to take this sponsorship opportunity and support him in achieving this great cause. He showed us that age is never a barrier for doing good; we can all do something good for the community as long as we believe in the cause and in our abilities,” Beydoun added.

As a result of the positive feedback received from players, sponsors, and the tennis community, ACE FOR GOOD is now set to become an annual event in Dubai, with plans also in the works to take it abroad, with a tournament set to take place in Egypt in August.


Khair for All — Saudi charity celebrate another successful Ramadan

Khair for All — Saudi charity celebrate another successful Ramadan
Updated 15 min 16 sec ago

Khair for All — Saudi charity celebrate another successful Ramadan

Khair for All — Saudi charity celebrate another successful Ramadan
  • Khair, the Arabic term for good, well-being, blessings and benevolence, was the operative word founder Abdulmajeed Hashem chose for his charity

 

 

JEDDAH: With Ramadan drawing to a close, a family and friends charity celebrated the success of their ninth consecutive year in operation ahead of Eid festivities.

Abdulmajeed Hashem, the 25-year-old founder of Jeddah-based charity Khair for All, told Arab News about how his family and friends played their part in giving and lending a helping hand this holy month.

Whilst endeavoring to get involved in the spirit of Ramadan aged 16, the Jeddah-born Hashem discovered that local charities in his area had too many volunteers. However, he knew that there was no cap on good that can be done — so he founded his own charity.

Khair, the Arabic term for good, well-being, blessings and benevolence, was the operative word founder Hashem chose for Khair for All.

“We started in about 2012 with a small group of my cousins and friends. We decided to start by giving out meals for Iftar Sayim,” Hashem told Arab News.

Iftar Sayim is the charitable act of providing ready meals, usually dates, water, laban and a sambosa, to Muslims in Ramadan for them to break their fasts with.

One month worth of essential food items laid out in batches ahead of packaging and distributing. (Zeina Sweidan)

“That simple beginning turned into something that grew in size, in number of volunteers, in effort — we just kind of started from there and it naturally grew.”

Hashem and his team purchased Iftar Sayim meals using their own money and began distributing them in the suburbs of Jeddah — soon they found themselves in a daily routine they could not do without.

“Meeting here everyday, setting up the packs and distributing them ourselves has really been a bonding experience with our group,” he said. “We really enjoy this activity — it’s become a part of our Ramadan that’s very important to us.”

A less fortunate suburb in Jeddah receiving Khair for All monthly packages. (Hussain Abedi)

The global health crisis did not stand in the way of the charity’s vision for 2021, and while adjustments had to be made and precautions taken, they swiftly adapted and made the necessary changes for another successful Ramadan.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 has played a role in getting the youth moving, according to the Khair for All founder. “I feel like with the new direction a lot more of my friends have been more willing to volunteer,” he said. “More people are ready to go and take on these projects.

“I’ve definitely noticed an increase in enthusiasm and energy in the past few years, and I think it’s very much linked to the direction of the country.”

Khair for All sets no limits on where and how it can be of service, and so ventured into more sustainable projects in which their effects will be seen in the years to come.

While Iftar Sayim is the basis for why Khair for All began, in 2014 Hashem and his team discovered that there were more ways to help the community than to simply help break their fasts.

Khair for All volunteer stuffing monthly packs of essential food items into the back of his car just before the Maghreb prayer — the time in which Muslims break their fasts. (AN/Zaid Khashogji)

“We later shifted to giving monthly packs,” the Khair for All founder said. “We kind of understood that families needed something more stable, something that would make them not have to worry about where their food was coming in for the next month.”

Since then, packaging monthly supplies consisting of basic goods and necessities has become the primary activity of the charity — and they soon found themselves working with local schools.

“We like to have more of a lasting impact in the places we’re helping out, rather than just providing a meal and then going back home,” Hashem said. “We want to provide something to the communities that we can see grow ourselves, so we’re really focusing a lot on education.”

Hashem and the team began pooling money together each year to improve the state of impoverished schools in Jeddah.

“Vision 2030 emphasizes a lot of the power the youth can have,” he said. “We believe any way we can make the schools a better learning environment for the kids would be a way of having a more lasting impact.

“We do a lot of work getting new chairs, painting and providing internet — and I hope we can continue to do more things like that in the future.”

Hashem believes that more direct communication with people in the community is necessary to address the real underlying issues, rather than just basing measures on assumptions.

“Basically, put our energy into what they tell us they need,” he said. “Talk to everyone there, and get to know them really well — that way, it’s addressing actual problems.”


Young whale stranded in London’s Thames is put down

Young whale stranded in London’s Thames is put down
Updated 28 min 43 sec ago

Young whale stranded in London’s Thames is put down

Young whale stranded in London’s Thames is put down
  • The whale, measuring three to four meters (10-13 feet), was first spotted in southwest London on Sunday
  • Rescue efforts by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) service and firefighters failed when the whale slipped its leash and then swam upriver

LONDON: A juvenile minke whale that became stranded in London’s River Thames has been put down after its condition deteriorated and vets decided it could not survive in the open water.
The whale, measuring three to four meters (10-13 feet), was first spotted in southwest London on Sunday and was washed ashore at a set of gates controlling water flow.
Rescue efforts by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) service and firefighters failed when the whale slipped its leash and then swam upriver, instead of toward the sea.
“The last 45 minutes we were with the whale its condition was deteriorating, its breathing wasn’t right and it wouldn’t have survived much longer,” BDMLR national coordinator Julia Cable said late Monday.
She said vets from London Zoo injected a “large” anaesthetic dose into the malnourished whale. It is thought the whale got separated from its mother and was unable to fend for itself.
“It’s always sad, but we now know that putting it back out into the open sea would have been sending it to starve out there,” Cable said.
Minke whales are the smallest of the world’s great whales and typically grow to a length of 10 meters in adulthood.
They can usually be found throughout the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans but have been spotted as far north as the Arctic and as far south as the Equator.
In January 2006, a northern bottlenose whale became stuck in the Thames, sparking huge media interest. It died as it was being ferried back out to sea.


Arab world renewables growth slows in 2020

Arab world renewables growth slows in 2020
Updated 11 May 2021

Arab world renewables growth slows in 2020

Arab world renewables growth slows in 2020
  • Total renewables capacity stood at 24,224 MW last year

DUBAI: The Middle East saw a 5 percent increase in its renewable energy capacity in 2020, as the region’s push to go greener stalled.
Total renewables capacity stood at 24,224 MW last year, according to a report by the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Growth in the sector slowed from the 13 percent increase in renewables capacity achieved between 2018 and 2019, as the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on projects in the pipeline.
Still, the targets set by countries in the region could translate into a combined 80 GW of renewable capacity by 2030, IRENA said.
The global agency said the regional renewables push goes hand-in-hand with the Middle East’s ambition to diversify its economy, with projects typically bringing other economic benefits.
“The region recognizes the socio-economic benefits of renewable energy deployment, which is perceived as an opportunity for industrial diversification, new value-chain activities and technology transfer,” IRENA said.
The UAE has grown its renewable energy capacity from just 13MW in 2011 to 2,540 MW capacity in 2020. Saudi Arabia’s capacity also grew significantly over nine years – starting at only 3MW and increasing to 413 MW last year.


Indian oil refiners cut output, imports as pandemic hits demand

Indian oil refiners cut output, imports as pandemic hits demand
Updated 11 May 2021

Indian oil refiners cut output, imports as pandemic hits demand

Indian oil refiners cut output, imports as pandemic hits demand
  • IOC’s refineries at 95 percent of their capacity in late April
  • Several Indian states remain under lockdown

NEW DELHI: India’s top oil refiners are reducing processing runs and crude imports as the surging COVID-19 pandemic has cut fuel consumption, leading to higher product stockpiles at the plants, company officials told Reuters on Tuesday.
Indian Oil Corp, the country’s biggest refiner, has reduced runs to an average of between 85 percent and 88 percent of processing capacity, a company official said, adding runs could be cut further as some plants are facing problems storing refined oil products.
IOC’s refineries were operating at about 95 percent of their capacity in late April.
“We do not anticipate that our crude processing would be reduced to last year’s level of 65 percent-70 percent as inter-state vehicle movement is still there ... (the) economy is functioning,” he said.
Several states across India are under lockdown as the coronavirus crisis showed scant sign of easing on Tuesday, with a seven-day average of new cases at a record high, although the government of India, the world’s third largest oil importer and consumer, has not implemented a full lockdown.
State-run Bharat Petroleum Corp. has cut its crude imports by 1 million barrels in May and will reduce purchases by 2 million barrels in June, a company official said.
M.K. Surana, chairman of Hindustan Petroleum Corp, expects India’s fuel consumption in May to fall by 5 percent from April as the impact on driving and industrial production is not as severe as last year.
“This time it is not a full lockdown like last time,” he said.
“Sales in April was about 90 percent of March and we expect May could be about 5 percent lower than April.”