Drowned migrant boy whose image shocked the world buried in Syria

Abdullah al-Kurdi, father of the drowned three-year-old boy Aylan Kurdi from Syria, grieves for his dead sons. EPA

ARA News

KOBANE – The bodies of drowned Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, his brother and mother have been buried in Syria’s Kobane after being transported from Turkey. 

Three-year-old Aylan, five-year-old Galip and their mother, Rehan, were buried in the Kurdish city of Kobane on Friday. 

They were among at least 12 people who died on the boat headed for Greece. The boat was part of a flotilla of small dinghies boarded by passengers at Akyarlar, the closest point to the Greek Aegean island of Kos.

Alan’s father Abdullah Kurdi, who survived the incident, returned to Syria with the coffins of his family members on Thursday.

A convoy of vehicles with the bodies crossed into Kobane from the Turkish border town of Suruc, officials said. 

Speaking outside the mortuary where the bodies of his two sons were being held, Kurdi said: “I just want to see my children for the last time and stay forever with them.”

Kurdi described what had happened on board the boat heading for Greece, saying the captain had panicked because of high waves and jumped into the sea, leaving him in control of the small craft.

“I took over and started steering. The waves were so high and the boat flipped. I took my wife and my kids in my arms and I realised they were all dead,” he told AP.

Pictures of Alan’s body on a beach in Turkey sparked worldwide outrage at the plight of people fleeing the war in Syria for Europe and criticism of foreign governments for not doing enough to answer the crisis. 

The child, believed to be Syrian, drowned as two boats sank after leaving southwest Turkey for Greece.

Aid agencies estimate that, over the past month, about 2,000 people a day have been making the short crossing to Greece’s eastern islands on rubber dinghies.

“The harrowing image that shows the true tragedy of the refugee crisis,” read a headline in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, while the Guardian said the photo “brought home” the horror of the situation.

“If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?” The Independent said. The Huffington Post’s U.K. edition said: “Do Something, David” – a reference to Prime Minister David Cameron who has pursued a hard line against migrant arrivals. 

The image appeared on the website of Spain’s El Pais, El Mundo and El Periodico, which titled the photo “The drowning of Europe.” In Italy, the La Repubblica daily tweeted the image saying: “One photo to silence the world.”

Kobane became a symbol of Kurdish resistance after forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Peshmerga liberated the city from militants of the Islamic State (ISIS). Thousands of displaced people returned from Turkey to the liberated city; however, the radical group infiltrated into Kobane in June and killed dozens of civilians, which caused a new wave of displacement from the war-torn city. 

ARA News, agencies

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