The boy was part of a group of 11 Syrians who drowned off the coastal town of Bodrum in Turkey after an apparent failed attempt to flee the war ravaged country
The pictures show a small boy lying face down in the sand on a Turkish beach as an official stands over him.
The child, who is thought to be Syrian, has drowned in an apparent attempt to flee the war ravaging his country.
They are extraordinary images and serve as a stark reminder that, as European leaders increasingly try to prevent refugees from settling in the continent, more and more refugees are dying in their desperation to flee persecution and reach safety.
The Independent has taken the decision to publish these images because, among the often glib words about the “ongoing migrant crisis”, it is all too easy to forget the reality of the desperate situation facing many refugees.
The boy, pictured below being carried by the official, is one of 12 Syrian refugees feared dead after they drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean on two boats bound for the Greek island of Kos.
One of the boats was carrying six Syrians when it sank after leaving Akyarlar, in a desperate attempt to cross the 5km Aegean straight to Kos that represented their best chance of entering the EU.
According to Turkey’s Dogan news agency, three children and a woman from the small boat drowned. Two people survived after swimming back to shore in life jackets.
In Britain, David Cameron and Philip Hammond have been criticised for the “dehumanising” language they use to describe refugees.
The Prime Minister described refugees coming to the UK as a “swarm”, and later said he would not “allow people to break into our country”.
Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said refugees were “marauding” around Calais. Amnesty International called his comments “shameful”.
Aylan Al-Kurdi and his older brother, Ghalib, died yesterday when their dinghy sank off the coast of Turkey (Qattouby/Twitter)
The pictures, and the tragedy they convey, are hard to ignore, and now senior politicians are calling on Cameron to do more to tackle the crisis.
Labour leadership front-runner Jeremy Corbyn told The Independent: “Nobody could fail to be moved by this harrowing and heartbreaking image.
“It should remind us of the situation facing millions of people desperately fleeing a terrible civil war.
“The government’s response to the refugee crisis has been wholly inadequate, and we are being shamed by our European neighbours.”
Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, told The Independent: “Enough is enough. These pictures are beyond horrific. They are the wake-up call David Cameron needs.”
He was joined by Yvette Cooper, another contender for the Labour leader post, who told The Independent: “It is heartbreaking what is happening on our continent. We cannot keep turning our backs on this. We can – and must – do more.”
Along with Afghan citizens, Syrians make up the bulk of the people fleeing conflict in their homeland to seek a safer home in Europe.