‘I’m sorry for using picture of dead Syrian boy’

Refugees from Syria
Refugees from Syria

A fundraiser has apologised for using a picture of a dead Syrian child on leaflets that were posted to thousands of homes.

Around 3,300 Olney households received a plea from John van Weenen to fill a cardboard box with items to be sent to Calais.

But the Olney Aid appeal was met with outrage from townspeople, who said they were “horrified” that the image had been posted through their letterboxes.

One said: “I will help with any appeal for refugees, but why you think you need to expose the good people and families of Olney to this image is beyond me.

“Perhaps you wanted to shock people into action rather than just rely on people giving.”

The picture of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who was pictured drowned on a Turkish beach last month, sparked international outcry over the escalating refugee crisis.

Many believe the picture was the catalyst that encouraged world leaders to accept refugees into their countries.

Touched by the image, Mr van Weenen launched a relief mission of essential aid donations to help relieve the suffering of refugees in Calais.

But soon after the leaflets were delivered, complaints were posted on the Olney Noticeboard Facebook group - and Mr can Weenen immediately sent out an apology.

“With hindsight, I would not have put Aylan’s picture on the leaflet if I had known it would upset a number of people,” he said.

“That was never my intention and to those who were affected – I apologise, most profusely.”

Speaking to the Citizen after the fall-out, Mr van Weenen said: “I am not perfect. I am just an ordinary chap who wants to help and I am determined to do so.

“The picture of the poor boy swept the Western world and I thought it would help to make the campaign a huge success.”

On Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11, Mr van Weenen has organised a drop-off for donations at Souls before the boxes are loaded and delivered to Calais on Monday, October 12.

Mr van Weenen will travel with the aid to ensure the boxes are handed personally to every refugee family in the Jungle Camp.

He added: “People are really moved by what is going on and I hope they will all get involved to make this mission a real success.”

> Souls are located at 2 Stilebrook Road on Olney Industrial Estate off Yardley Road.