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3-year-old Alan was one of 14 people aboard a boat trying to reach a Greek Island

Turkey's Aegean provinces are prime spots for refugees leaving for the EU, with Greek islands lying within sight of the coast.

CNN  — 

Two Syrian men have been sentenced in Turkey to more than four years in prison in connection with the boat accident that claimed the life of Alan Kurdi, the young boy whose lifeless body came to symbolize the plight of refugees risking everything in their desperation to secure a better life.

The Bodrum High Criminal Court convicted Muwafaka Alabash and Asem Alfrhad of migrant smuggling in the deadly accident. It acquitted them, however, of “causing death by reckless negligence.”

Last September, Alan Kurdi, 3, was one of 14 Syrian refugees on board a boat that sank en route to Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. His body washed up on a beach near the Turkish resort of Bodrum.

On the beach, as if he were sleeping

Photos showing his small body on the beach went around the world. He was wearing a red shirt and black shoes. His face was partly covered by sand and waves, as if he were sleeping.

Turkey’s Aegean provinces are prime spots for refugees embarking for the European Union. Many Greek islands lie within sight of the Turkish coast.

More than 1 million migrants

Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of people have made short but perilous journeys in an effort to reach Europe’s Mediterranean shores and, ultimately, the continent’s northern and western countries.

Of the more than 1.1 million refugees who arrived in the EU last year, more than 850,000 arrived by sea to Greece from Turkey, according to the International Organization for Migration. Over the course of the year, 805 people died in the Aegean.

An average of two children have drowned every day since September as their families tried to cross the eastern Mediterranean, and the number of child deaths is growing – more than 340 since September, according to international officials from several relief agencies.