Story highlights

NEW: Family were Kurds trying to make it to Canada, CNN partner reports

A toddler from Syria was one of 12 people to drown off Turkey

A haunting image of him has been shared with the tag "Flotsam of Humanity"

CNN  — 

The 3-year-old lies face down, his head to one side with his bottom slightly up – the way toddlers like to sleep.

But the water is lapping around his face and his body is lifeless.

The boy, in a red T-shirt, blue pants and tiny shoes with Velcro straps, was one of 12 people who drowned off Turkey and washed up on a beach Wednesday.

A photo of him lying alone and being approached by an official has been shared widely around the world, often with the Twitter hashtag #KıyıyaVuranİnsanlık or “Flotsam of Humanity” in Turkish.

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‘No humanity’

Some said they hoped the images of the boy lying on the beach and his limp body being scooped up by a rescue worker could be a turning point in the debate over how to handle the surge of people heading toward Europe.

Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, described the pictures as “haunting.”

“Biggest indictment of collective failure,” he wrote.

“Shame on the world!” Burhan Akman tweeted from Turkey, adding in another post, “I see human but no humanity.”

The boy and his family were Kurds from Syria trying to reach relatives in Vancouver, British Columbia, CNN partner CTV reported.

In addition to the boy, Aylan Kurdi, 3, his brother, Galip, and their mother, Rehen, also died, according to Fin Donnelly, a member of the Canadian Parliament.

The boys’ aunt, Tima Kurdi, who lives in Vancouver, had filed refugee paperwork to get her relatives permission to come live in Canada, but the application had been rejected