It took an image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a beach for people to take the refugee crisis seriously. But it's not the first time photography has helped humanity...
The current refugee crisis taking place across the Middle East and Europe isn’t new. For years, desperate parents have risked their children’s lives in hope of giving them a better future. For months, Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Turkey and Italy have struggled to cope with the number of individuals crossing their borders and turning up on their shores. And for weeks, the wider world has raised its eyebrows, shrugged its shoulders sadly, and turned the page of the newspaper.
That’s until a photograph of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi went viral. And suddenly everybody looked up, threw the newspaper on the floor, and acknowledged that we have to do something to help.
Of course, it was a realisation that should have come sooner. And of course, reducing a complex and ongoing situation to one tragic – and traumatic – image seems to simplify things too much for comfort. But it doesn’t matter. Throughout history, war photography has been used to raise awareness of international conflicts – and it works.
Because even if a picture can’t tell a thousand words, it can certainly make a thousand strangers pay attention. Which has got to be a good thing.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IMAGES MAY BE UPSETTING
7) Three year old Aylan Kurdi’s body is washed up on a beach in Turkey, 2015
Credit: Twitter / Nilufer Demir
6) Christians hold hands to protect Muslims while they pray during protests in Cairo, Egypt, 2011
Credit: Twitter/ Nevin Zaki
5) Two-year-old Agim Shala is passed through barbed wire to his grandparents during the Kosovo War, 2003
Credit: Twitter / Carol Guzy
4) 17-year-old Jane Rose Kasmir places a daisy in a rifle to protest the Vietnam war, 1967
Credit: Twitter / Marc Riboud
Black Friday 2021
3) Terri Gurrola returns home after deployment in Iraq, and embraces her three-year-old daughter, 2007
Credit: Twitter / Louie Favorite
2) An emaciated toddler tries to make her way to a food station during the Sudanese famine, while a vulture looks on, 1994
Credit: Twitter / Kevin Carter
1) Seven-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc flees her Vietnamese village after a bomb kills her cousins and burns her back, 1972
Credit: Twitter / Nick Ut