Father of drowned Syrian toddlers prepares to take bodies home
The distraught father of two Syrian toddlers who drowned with their mother and several other migrants as they tried to reach Greece identified their bodies on Thursday and prepared to take them back to their home town of Kobani.
Abdullah Kurdi collapsed in tears after emerging from a morgue in the city of Mugla near Bodrum, where the body of his 3-year-old son, Aylan, washed up on Wednesday.
A photograph of the boy’s tiny body in a bright red T-shirt and dark shorts, face-down in the surf, appeared in newspapers around the world, prompting sympathy and outrage at the perceived inaction of developed nations in helping refugees.
Aylan’s 5-year-old brother, Galip, and mother, Rehan, 35, were among 12 people, including other children, who died after two boats capsized while trying to reach the Greek island of Kos.
“The things that happened to us here, in the country where we took refuge to escape war in our homeland, we want the whole world to see this,” Abdullah told reporters.
“We want the world's attention on us, so that they can prevent the same from happening to others. Let this be the last,” he said.
In a statement to police obtained by the Hurriyet newspaper, Abdullah said he had twice paid smugglers to take him and his family to Greece but their efforts had failed. They had then decided to find a boat and row themselves but it began to take in water and when people stood up in panic, it capsized.
“I was holding my wife’s hand. My children slipped away from my hands. We tried to hold on to the boat,” he said in the statement. “Everyone was screaming in pitch darkness. I couldn’t make my voice heard to my wife and kids.”
The image of Aylan, drowned off one of Turkey’s most popular holiday resorts, went viral on social media and piled pressure on European leaders.
“European countries, which have turned the Mediterranean, the cradle of the world’s oldest civilizations, into a cemetery for refugees, shares the sin for every refugee who loses their life,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls took to Twitter: “He had a name: Aylan Kurdi. Urgent action required – A Europe-wide mobilisation is urgent,” he wrote.
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