• Warning: this article contains images that readers may find distressing
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The day the British media finally got a conscience

Social media users around the world have reacted in grief and anger at the heartbreaking images of a young refugee boy whose tiny body was pictured washed up on a Mediterranean beach.

In harrowing photos that shocked the world, Aylan Kurdi, three, was seen face down in the sand of Turkey’s Bodrum beach after he drowned alongside his mother Rehan, 35, and brother Galip, five.

The desperate family – who fled the ISIS-besieged Syrian city of Kobane – were on an overcrowded dinghy bound for the Greek island of Kos when it capsized. The boys’ father Abdullah survived.

Reacting to the tragedy, social media users have created moving and poignant artworks based around the photographs of Aylan’s tiny body – with many portraying the tragic little boy as an angel.

Grief: Reacting to the tragedy, social media users have created moving and poignant artworks based around the photographs of Aylan's tiny body - with many portraying the tragic little boy as an angel

Grief: Reacting to the tragedy, social media users have created moving and poignant artworks based around the photographs of Aylan’s tiny body – with many portraying the tragic little boy as an angel

In a moving image, the photo of Aylan is edited to show a tiny angel with wings leaving his body and being carried into heaven by his late mother (left). Another shows him with black balloons in his left hand

This image made a political point about how few Syrian refugees have been accepted by Middle Eastern nations. It shows men wearing traditional Arab dress standing over Aylan's body. The caption reads: 'Refugees welcomed by: Saudi: 0, Kuwait: 0, Qatar: 0, Emirates: 0, Bahrain: 0 #FreeSyria #SyriaCrisis'

This image made a political point about how few Syrian refugees have been accepted by Middle Eastern nations. It shows men wearing traditional Arab dress standing over Aylan’s body. The caption reads: ‘Refugees welcomed by: Saudi: 0, Kuwait: 0, Qatar: 0, Emirates: 0, Bahrain: 0 #FreeSyria #SyriaCrisis’

Many of the tribute images are pencil illustrations depicting Aylan lying dead on Bodrum beach while a local gendarme stands over his body.

In one moving image, the photograph of the little boy is edited to show a tiny angel with wings leaving his body and being carried into heaven by a woman, presumably his late mother.

The photograph was shared online by Twitter user Sherry Aziz, who captioned it: ‘God be with you and all the other little angels #FreeSyria’.

Another painted image shows Aylan as an angel lying face down in the sand, white feathers at his feet and a red rose clutched in his right hand. The picture was shared on Twitter by HA Hellyer, who wrote: ‘May we all be forgiven for failing to help this beautiful child. RIP’.

Using the same shot of Aylan, two other images show him with black balloons in his left hand and lying against a grave stone respectively. In the latter, the words ‘The End’ hover over the little boy.

The image has also been used by Arabic-speaking social media users who used it to make a political point about how few Syrian refugees have been accepted by Middle Eastern nations.

One shows men wearing traditional Arab dress standing over Aylan. The caption reads: ‘Refugees welcomed by: Saudi: 0, Kuwait: 0, Qatar: 0, Emirates: 0, Bahrain: 0 #FreeSyria #SyriaCrisis’

Social media users around the world have reacted in grief and anger at the heartbreaking images of a young refugee boy whose tiny body was pictured washed up on a Mediterranean beach

Social media users around the world have reacted in grief and anger at the heartbreaking images of a young refugee boy whose tiny body was pictured washed up on a Mediterranean beach

Tragic: Upon sharing one of the tribute images, Twitter user HA Hellyer wrote: 'May we all be forgiven for failing to help this beautiful child. RIP'

Tragic: Upon sharing one of the tribute images, Twitter user HA Hellyer wrote: ‘May we all be forgiven for failing to help this beautiful child. RIP’

Moving and poignant: Using the same shot of Aylan this image shows him lying against a grave stone. The words 'The End' hover over the little boy

Moving and poignant: Using the same shot of Aylan this image shows him lying against a grave stone. The words ‘The End’ hover over the little boy

Earlier the boys’ aunt spoke for the first time of the moment the boys’ grief-stricken father Abdullah Kurdi called relatives after the tragedy, managing only to say: ‘My wife and two boys are dead.’

Heartbreaking new photographs also emerged of Galip and Aylan this morning – including one showing the boys smiling and laughing as they sit together alongside a large teddy bear.

Aylan and Galip, who were not wearing lifejackets, did not stand a chance when the boat overturned in the dead of night, some 30 minutes after it set off from the holiday resort of Bodrum in Turkey.

All 17 passengers were flung into the Mediterranean, and despite the calm water, Galip and Aylan drowned.

Their lifeless bodies, still clad in tiny T-shirts and shorts, washed up on Ali Hoca Point Beach in Bodrum today and boatmen alerted the authorities.

A heartbreaking photograph of a Turkish gendarme cradling one of the boys in his arms emerged shortly after the tragedy and video footage showed the body of the second.

The human cost: A policeman on a Turkish beach gently recovers the bodies of two brothers drowned as their family tried to make their way to the Greek island of Kos yesterday 

The human cost: A policeman on a Turkish beach gently recovers the bodies of two brothers drowned as their family tried to make their way to the Greek island of Kos yesterday

Harrowing: The young boy, named as Aylan Kurdi, is just one of almost 3,000 migrants who have already died this year in the Mediterranean

Harrowing: The young boy, named as Aylan Kurdi, is just one of almost 3,000 migrants who have already died this year in the Mediterranean

Heartbreaking: The bodies of Aylan, three (left) and his brother Galip, five (right) washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean. This photo shows the boys when they were younger, according to a Syrian journalist

Heartbreaking: The bodies of Aylan, three (left) and his brother Galip, five (right) washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean. This photo shows the boys when they were younger, according to a Syrian journalist

Smiles: Galip and Aylan Kurdi (pictured) hail from the ISIS-besieged Syrian city of Kobane. According to relatives, their father now wants to return to the city to bury the two boys and their mother

Smiles: Galip and Aylan Kurdi (pictured) hail from the ISIS-besieged Syrian city of Kobane. According to relatives, their father now wants to return to the city to bury the two boys and their mother

The boys’ aunt has now spoken of the moment a heartbroken Abdullah Kurdi telephoned relatives to tell them about the tragedy.

‘I heard the news at five o’clock in this morning,’ Vancouver-based Teema Kurdi told National Post.

She said that learned of the tragedy through a telephone call from Ghuson Kurdi, the wife of another brother, Mohammad, who had spoken with the bereaved father.

‘She had got a call from Abdullah, and all he said was, ‘my wife and two boys are dead’,’ she explained.

She added that Mr Kurdi now plans to return to the family’s war torn home town of Kobane in order to lay the boys and their mother to rest. He said he wants to be buried alongside them.

According to local reports the boats were part of a flotilla of dinghys that were boarded at an inlet before puttering out to the sea off Akyarlar – the nearest point from Turkey to the island of Kos.

Another dinghy among the flotilla, which was carrying a further 16 refugees to Kos, also capsized.

 

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