Sunday 23 October 2016

Father of drowned children prepares to take bodies home

Abdullah Kurdi
Abdullah Kurdi

The distraught father of two little Syrian boys who drowned with their mother and several other migrants as they tried to reach Greece identified their bodies yesterday 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, Turkey, where the body of his three-year-old son, Aylan, washed up on Wednesday.

A photo of the child'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 five-year-old bro-ther, 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."

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. "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 popu-lar 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 civilisations, into a cemetery for refugees, share the sin for every refugee who loses their life," said Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan.

French prime minister Manuel Valls took to Twitter to write: "He had a name: Aylan Kurdi. Urgent action required - a Europe-wide mobilisation is urgent."

Abdullah's family had wanted to emigrate to Canada after fleeing the war-torn town of Kobani, a revelation that also put Canada's Conservative government under immense fire from its political opponents.

His sister in Vancouver said that contrary to earlier reports, she had not yet tried to sponsor him, his wife and sons to come to Canada, but she had first sponsored another brother, whose application had been rejected.

"They didn't deserve to die, they didn't," said Tima Kurdi. "They were going for a better life.

"That shouldn't have happened. It shouldn't have happened to them."

"To be honest, I don't want to just blame the Canadian government.

"I'm blaming the whole world for this."

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