The Heartbreaking Story Behind this Photo!
An image snapped by photographer Daniel Etter went viral this week. It captured the overwhelming emotions endured by Syrian refugees fleeing from the devastation inflicted on their homeland by brutal Islamic State insurgents during a violent geopolitical upheaval in the Middle East.
The photographer caught the anguish of a weeping refugee, Laith Majid, as he clutched his young daughter and one of his sons shortly after their arrival on the Greek Island of Kos. Mr. Majid, his wife, daughter and three sons, had endured a harrowing two hour journey over the Mediterranean in an inflated dingy designed to carry four people. It held twelve individuals. Along the way, air began escaping from the raft and sea water leaked inside, soaking everyone. The Majid family paid $8,000 for their passage from Kosvia, Turkey.
Daniel Etter explained that when the family reached the beach in Kos around 4:30 a.m., the impact of their trip caught up with them. The Majid’s home in Deir ez-Sol had been destroyed by a bomb. Mr. Majid hopes to emigrate to Germany eventually.
The civic protests against the government of Syria which commenced in March, 2011 rapidly escalated into a violent civil war and insurgency that would eventually impact millions of people. So far, an estimated 230,000 people have perished in the fighting, with thousands more injured or displaced. Just a few hours ago, in fact, “Islamic State” insurgents used bulldozers to destroy the historic Christian monastery of Mar Elian. They reportedly moved a number of hostages into a stronghold at Raqqa.
Daniel Etter’s image of Laith Majid and his family captures the pain and disruption of shattered lives occasioned by the violence. When the photographer encountered the family of refugees again, they hoped to undergo document processing on a local ferry. Their daughter suffered from a high fever and one of the boys had not been able to sleep since their traumatic voyage.
Athens reporter Joanna Kakissis told NPR that Greek islands like Kos have also found the influx of thousands of refugees and immigrants overwhelming. As displaced people arrive in these primarily tourist-based settings, the Greek government has not been able to provide food or shelter for thousands of displaced people. The government uses a ferry in Kos as a processing camp. Meanwhile, many newcomers sleep on beaches and depend on handouts from kind-hearted local residents for sustenance while awaiting the processing of their documents.
She indicated that some business owners in Kos, while assisting the refugees, fear economic devastation in turn as a result of this migration. A growing number of Greeks harbor great resentment due to the lack of humanitarian relief available from the government sector. Who will help them?