One year ago today, a three-year-old boy named Alan Kurdi drowned in the Aegean Sea. Having fled the war in Syria with his family, Alan died on the final stretch of the arduous journey to safety in Europe when the overcrowded rubber dinghy he was in capsized after leaving Turkey. His mother and five-year-old brother also died that day. The picture of Alan’s tiny, lifeless body washed up on Turkish shores provoked horror, empathy, and outrage around the world.
There was, for a moment, hope that out of terrible tragedy could come positive change. That the leaders and people of Europe could transform that empathy and outrage into policies that protect, rather than endanger.
Instead, we’ve seen a spiraling death toll in the Mediterranean as many European Union governments duck responsibilities, close borders, and try to outsource care for the world’s refugees.