An email from one of my former Wolfson Press Fellows arrived this morning with this attachment and a very wide circulation list. The subject heading read simply: “Nobody knows who this boy belongs to!”
While I was contemplating it — and thinking about the tens of thousands of Thai, Sri Lankan and Indonesian children who are in the same situation but whose images are not circulating on the Web — my email system pinged and there was another message from my colleague saying “good news.just heard from singapore that they have found the next of kin of the child”.
So this particular story ends happily. But most of these stories won’t. And after tragedy, comes depravity. According to the BBC, “Swedish police are already in Thailand investigating reports that a 12-year-old Swedish survivor of the tsunami was kidnapped from a hospital in the chaotic aftermath”. And UNICEF is warning that child traffickers are also moving in on children orphaned by the disaster. Strange how these catastrophes bring out the best and the worst in humanity.