On 20 April 2015, a boat carrying nearly 100 refugees ran aground near the island of Rhodes. The photographer Argiris Mantikos produced an image of a female survivor being helped by a Rhodesian man. It was labelled "the image that defined a week of tragedy". Antonis Deligiorgis is a Greek soldier, and on that day, was responsible for saving 20 refugees from the sea. He was awarded the Cross of Excellency in a ceremony at Athens by the Defence Minister. That same weekend, an estimated 700 refugees were feared dead, as another boat capsized south of the Italian coast. David Cameron described it as "a very dark day for Europe" and held people smugglers responsible.
These boats were packed with Syrians and Eritrean "migrants" travelling via Egypt and Libya. The Guardian, Independent, Mashable, The Atlantic, and others spoke of a "migrant crisis" in April. Five months later, another tragedy, the same sea. The image of Aylan Kurdi has galvanised public opinion, changed the discourse of migration, and perhaps even changed public policy.
This week, tens of thousands of people around major Australian cities gathered for a candle light vigil and a message: #RefugeesWelcome. European citizens from Iceland, Austria, Germany and the UK are opening up their homes and cheering the arrival of refugees at train stations. Many media outlets that were only recently using the term "migrant" to described these people and this crisis have diligently switched to "refugee".
The image that did not define that day in April off the shoreline of Rhodes was also produced by Argiris Mantikos. Three people died that day, including a young child. Warning: this image is of a dead child. It is your choice to view it or not. It is eerily similar to that of Aylan and Turkish policeman Mehmet Ciplak. However, the unidentified man is Greek and pictured in a small boat, kneeling on the bow with a lifeless body in his arms. The child is wearing a beanie. There is no face visible. No skin except that of a single tiny, limp hand.
It is difficult to find any more information about this image. A Norwegian media outlet, NRK, ran a story that gives the names of those in the photograph. (Google translated). Elyud was 6 years old and from Eritrea. His uncle, Yonas Amanuel Issack, also lost his 37-year old sister that same day. Issack lives in on the island of Hitra in Norway. He was already living on Hitra at the time of this tragedy, where an estimated 30-40 Eritreans also reside. It was suggested that Elyud and Issack's sister were on their way to join him.
Human Rights Watch described Eritrea's human rights as "dismal" and the country as lacking a functioning legislature, independent press, and civil society since 2001. In July, the organisation identified the majority of people arriving in Europe to be from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Iraq. Five countries of severe repression, violent conflict, and human rights abuses.
Few media outlets ran the image of Elyud. Most appear to have run with the image of a shirt-less and soaked Deligiorgis and the unnamed Eritrean woman. There were some waves across social media, with a number of Twitter users sharing the image of Elyud. (Again, warning). But, a name was never attached. "Child" and "mirgrant" were the descriptors. No gender. No nationality. Elyud's story was never told except on NRK's website. It is an incomplete narrative, an example of the inequality of narratives. The world was not ready for Elyud; to make him the defining image of a crisis that has no end in sight.