Syrian Refugee Father Whose Son Drowned Fleeing to Europe Says His Death Must Be 'a Wake-up Call for the Whole World' (GRAPHIC CONTENT)
Photographs of the lifeless body of a 3-year-old Syrian refugee boy who drowned off the Turkish coast have horrified the world.
Little Alan Kurdi died, along with his 5-year-old brother, Ghalib, and his mother, Rehanna, when the boat they were in capsized as the family tried to sail for Kos, an island in Greece. The family had fled war-torn Syria in search of a better life in the European Union.
The only survivor from the family was the father, Abdullah, who says he no longer has the will to live after losing his wife and two sons.
“I don’t want anything else from this world,” the grief-stricken father told CNN on Thursday. “Everything I was dreaming of is gone. I want to bury my children and sit beside them until I die.”
The photo of Alan’s tiny body has splashed across the front pages of newspapers the world over. Thousands of refugees from Syria, North Africa and South Asia are paying smugglers to bring them to Europe, where they hope to escape violence and find opportunity. The crossings are usually dangerous and often deadly.
In April, a boat carrying 700 migrants sank in the Mediterranean, killing hundreds, the BBC reports. Last month, 71 Syrian refugees, including children, were found dead inside a truck on the side of the road in Austria.
Alan, found face-down on a Turkish beach wearing a red T-shirt and shorts, has focused the world on the issue like never before. The journalist who took the photos of workers recovering the body, said they captured the reality of life for thousands of refugees and migrants.
“There was nothing to do. And that is exactly what I did. I thought this is the only way I can express the scream of his silent body,” Nilufer Demir, who works for Turkey’s Dogan News Agency, told CNN.
Abdullah brought Alan, Ghalib and his wife to Turkey three years ago to escape the fighting in Damascus, where he had worked as a barber, he told the Wall Street Journal.
He said he paid smugglers after a relative urged him to take his family from Turkey to Europe. Police later detained four Syrians suspected of involvement in arranging the boat, the newspaper reports.
Speaking amid sobs to reporters, Abdullah’s sister, Tima Kurdi, relayed to the Wall Street Journal the story of how Alan and his brother died. As the boat capsized in turbulent weather, Abdullah grabbed his children and tried to stay aboard: “They screamed, ‘Daddy, please don’t die,’ ” she said he told her. “He said, ‘I did everything in my power to save them, but I couldn’t.’
“My brother said to me: ‘My kids have to be the wake-up call for the whole world.’ “