The news agency photographer who pictured drowned Syrian child Aylan Kurdi has spoken of her wish to capture the "scream" of the three-year-old’s "silent body".
It is a silent scream which has been heard around the world after images of the dead child lying face down in the surf and then being carried away appeared on newspaper front pages around the world yesterday and have sparked an urgent debate about how to deal with Europe’s refugee crisis.
Prime Minister David Cameron has already said Britain should take thousands more Syrian refugees. The image has led to demands across Europe, and the Arab world, for a more tolerant approach to refugees fleeing war and persecution.
Photographer Nilufer Demir, 29, works for the Dogan News Agency and is based in the Turkish coastal resort of Bodrum. She arrived at the beach early on Wednesday morning, 2 September, along with colleagues responding to reports of activity there. They found first Aylan and then the body of his brother, four-year-old Galip – CNN reports.
She told the broadcaster: “He was laying on the beach the same way. He also had his shirt, his shorts and shoes on. They had nothing – no life vest, no arm floats, no life buoy to keep them floating on the water. This actually revealed how tragic that moment was."
The body of another 11-year-old boy was found further down the beach. Aylan and Galip’s mother was found on another Turkish beach. Their father survived. They were reportedly among 12 people who died when their small boat, attempting to sale across the Aegean Sea to Greece, capsized in rough seas.
The photographer told CNN: “I thought the only thing for me to do was to take their photographs to make sure Turkey and the world sees this..I thought, 'This is the only way I can express the scream of his silent body.' "
According to a report by the Dogan News Agency, the pictures of Aylan were taken at 6am on Wednesday. Demir and her colleagues in the region have been documenting the issue of refugee boat crossings for the last 15 years. Such crossings are said to have increased in the last two to three months.
Asked for her reaction to the scene she pictured she said: "Pain and sorrow…I have photographed and witnessed many migrant incidents since 2003 in this region… Their deaths, their drama. I hope from today, this will change. Hundreds, even thousands of migrants have flocked to Bodrum, because the Island of Kos is only four miles [away]. Migrants attempt to cross into Greece and then other European countries by boats, usually inflatable.”