Millions Pour Into Aid Groups After Toddler's Death

\"Donations are up 105 percent,\" said a statement from the US-branch of UNICEF.

Published: 05th September 2015 01:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th September 2015 01:43 AM   |  A+A-

BodyMigrant_AP

Relatives of 3-year-old Syrian Kurdish boy Aylan Kurdi carry his body, center, during his funeral procession with his mother Rehan, and his older brother Galib, in Kobani, Syria, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015 | Photo: AP

By AFP

THE HAGUE: Millions of euros in donations flooded into aid groups Friday from across Europe and the US from people heart-broken by photos of a drowned Syrian toddler lying washed up on a Turkish beach.

Under pressure at home to act, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain would put up an extra £100 million (137 million euros, $153 million) in humanitarian aid for the Syrian crisis, bringing London's total contribution to the conflict to more than 1.0 billion pounds.

And the children's charity UNICEF reported that donations had sky-rocketed since the picture of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying face down on the sand, his little shoes still firmly tied on his feet, went viral.

"Donations are up 105 percent," said a statement from the US-branch of UNICEF.

"When the image really hit the web, page views spiked over 149 percent over same time previous day."

The International Olympic Committee also launched an emergency two-million-euro ($2.2 million) fund, as the picture of Aylan, still dressed in blue shorts and a red T-shirt, triggered a wave of emotion, despite deep divisions among European governments about how to act.

"There is an enormous response from the public, the tide of indifference is shifting," Christian Peregrin, spokesman for the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station, told AFP.

The group, working to help migrants seeking to cross the Mediterranean from Libya, had by Friday received a record 600,000 euros ($666,500) in pledges.

"Before that, 10,000 euros in a day would have been a good day," he said.

Catalyst for action

In the Netherlands, which has so far remained largely indifferent to the crisis, Aylan's tragic fate has "served as a massive catalyst" to mobilise donations, a worker at the Dutch Refugee Council told AFP.

Aylan, his four-year-old brother Ghaleb and their mother Rihana drowned on Wednesday while trying to escape the four-year conflict in Syria and reach Europe across the Aegean Sea.

Since Aylan's pictures were published "there's been a whole change in attitude. Before, there was quite a bit of fear over the arrival of refugees," the Dutch aid worker said, asking not to be named.

"Now people are realising that we have to do more."

The Dutch government was examining ways to help, Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters, but he had no easy answers, adding there had to be a "European response."

"We have to re-think the current tools available and be ready, in order to find a solution, for a new path."

"We have all been touched by the terrible news and the heartbreaking stories in the past few days," the International Olympic President Thomas Bach said, as the IOC launched its fund.

Outspoken Irish rocker Bob Geldof pledged to take in four Syrian families at his two homes calling the migrant crisis a "sickening disgrace".

And Bayern Munich football club pledged one million euros to aid groups, saying it was organising a friendly game at which it hoped to raise a further million euros for the migrants.

Aid groups in the southern German city of Munich have been overwhelmed with donations.

"All our depots are full and volunteers are sorting through things. We've really received tonnes of things," said Nicole Boessl, from the Diakonia humanitarian group.

UN says still underfunded

Other groups in the Bavarian city, such as the Catholic group Caritas, had had to ask donors to stop dropping off clothes and goods as they were overwhelmed.

In Sweden, the boss of information technology company, B3IT, persuaded his workers to cancel a planned weekend trip to Rome and donate the 42,500 euros it was costing.

"I was on my way to a meeting, when I saw the photo of the little boy. I was very upset. That could have been my children," Jonas Elgquist told AFP.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said since Thursday it has "received a hundred thousand dollars of unsolicited funding on our global donate page, which we are sure was largely due to the photo of the Syrian toddler," said spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.

She added there has been a surge in donations in past weeks, even though the UNHCR and its partners say they remain hugely underfunded as they grapple with the growing crisis.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp