This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shambhavi Saxena. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

All Of Us Are Responsible For Why 3 Year Old Aylan Kurdi Is No More

More from Shambhavi Saxena

By Shambhavi Saxena:

I wished there was no problem in their country, that they hadn’t left it and hadn’t tried to leave Turkey and that I hadn’t taken this photograph,” said Nilufer Demir, the photographer who brought the world the news of the drowned Syrian boy.

His name was Aylan Kurdi, and he was three years old, and the photo of him on the shore of the Greek island Kos has shaken many of us from our stupor about the situation in Syria. It’s one of those images that will join Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl and Raghu Rai’s ‘Burial of an Unknown Child’. It’s one we simply cannot ignore, even in this day and age of scroll-and-forget.

Aylan Kurdi

The Crisis in Syria

Aylan and his family were crossing the Aegean sea to get to Greece when their boat capsized, leaving his father, Abdullah Kurdi, the sole survivor of an all too common tragedy. Abdullah Kurdi is among 4 million Syrian refugees displaced by the violent aftermath of the Arab Spring. The ‘Arab Spring’, a collective noun for democratic uprisings that was on everybody’s lips back in 2011, devolved into bloody clashes between Syria’s civilian army and the government. The direct outcome of this has been the worst refugee crisis the world has seen since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Apart from those who fled the country, there are some 7 million internally displaced persons inside Syria. As with the refugee crises in Iraq, Burma, Tibet, North Africa and many more, civilians become easy targets of a host of human rights violations from both state and non-state actors. Those who escape are at the mercy of other nations and natural elements, like the Rohingya Muslims left adrift in boats.

Syria’s Dispossessed Children

Those who stand to lose the most from all this are the Syrian children, for whom home and family have been all but shattered, leave alone their education and future careers. International aid agency Mercy Corps has said Syrian children “will be the ones left to rebuild their lives and their country,” but without even the basic necessities of life, how can they?

Child refugees who have made the perilous journey from the worst affected areas – Damascus and Aleppo – into and through the neighbouring nations of Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and beyond, have recorded and represented their experience through a series of photographs and drawings. Artists too have paid tribute to the little boy, while also criticizing leaders and nations and ever-impersonal mechanisms that allowed this to happen.

The Divided Nations

When only 19 of 195 world nations are signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, and the Protocol on the Status of Refugees that followed in 1967, even the most that individual states can do remains inadequate. Germany took the lead on responding to the crisis, and even then it’s just not enough. You might remember German Chancellor Angela Merkel having to explain to a Palestinian girl why her family was being deported. “I understand that, however I have to… sometimes politics is hard,” Merkel said, pointing to the fact that one country cannot manage the refugee situation on its own.

The UK, and its tendency to “Keep Britain British”, has come under fire for its reluctance to offer help. To illustrate how poor the UK’s response to the Syrian crisis has been, the Independent published a piece titled: “Number of Syrian refugees Britain has taken in would fit on a Tube train.” Now, almost reluctantly the UK has agreed to take in 4000 more Syrians.

But why look to the West as saviours? Loud questions about the responsibilities of Syria’s Arab neighbours have also been raised in international media. Wealthy gulf nations, like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar, that are equipped to help with the crisis, have not taken in any Syrian refugees.

Until such time as each nation is prepared to assist in such massive humanitarian crises, refugees are in serious trouble. In a tearful interview with the Guardian, Aylan Kurdi’s aunt Tima (who immigrated to Vancouver two decades ago and was sponsoring the Kurdis in Turkey) urged refugees not to attempt crossing the sea at the risk of their lives. Equally heartrending are the accounts of internally displaced refugees. As Somali poet Warsan Shire says in the poem ‘Home‘: “no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”

Little Aylan’s life ended even before it fully began because of the malice of his fellow humans, and the inability of others to be anything more than mortified or disinterested bystanders.

You must be to comment.
  1. Milind

    Muslims are killing their own so called brothers in the name of jihad or anything like that.Neighbouring Islamic states reuse to show mercy to homeless brothers who are dying in search of peaceful living.Syrian refugees are not welcomed in states ruled by their brothers therefore they seek refuge in states ruled by Kafirs(=Non Believers). They are begging at their doorsteps to take them in. All these things are happening in the name of Islamic honour.Where is the honour? Is not religious violence a software programme that does not work at all? Religious violence is a curse in civilised society but It is also equally true that violence ends violence. Peace never ends violence. The only difference is that one is violence for peace and another is violence for violence. This world will have to choose one.No way out.

  2. Sumit Jain

    Miss Shambhavi Saxena,
    All of us are responsible for this tragedy and genocide???
    Let me enlighten you with some truth.

    1> Why North Koreans border has been sealed and none is allowed to leave country? Please research you didnt mention anything. people are publicly executed and forbidden from everything.
    2>There is a body called UNSC who have all powers to do things right. What actually they did will shock you, US played a major politics there.
    3>Islamic country like Jordan, Egypt, Saudi, Turkey have military defence what did they do to neutralise terrorism??
    4>Pakistan is a terrorist state. What if civil war brokes out tomorrow in their land. Do you think India will openly welcome all of them?
    They have been warned since decades just like syria was warned for thier communalism rise. But they never listened to international bodies.
    5> No country really wants Muslim people to be a part of thier land even including all islamic countired due to thier violent behaviour since generations.They will live in Europe and then silently start planning to attack and war few years later.

  3. Himanshu Chauhan

    So easy to blame everyone. So tough to castigate the devil in scripture. Emotive activism misplaced as much as it could be.

More from Shambhavi Saxena

Similar Posts

By Anshul Abraham

By Rimsha Khan

By Rimsha Khan

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below