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World stirred by shocking image

By Helen Carson

Published 05/09/2015


A Turkish beach in the holiday resort of Bodrum became the focus of the world this week when the tiny body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi was washed up there.

The young boy lost his life when the boat that his family were fleeing from Syria in capsized.

Aylan's five-year-old brother, Ghalib, and mother, Rehan, also lost their lives at sea, in spite of the frantic attempts of the boys' father, Abdullah, to save his family.

The bodies of the three family members were recovered on Wednesday after the small boat they were travelling in turned over.

They were among 12 refugees who drowned off the Turkish coast that day alone.

A funeral service took place in the predominantly Kurdish Syrian border town of Kobani and Abdullah called for Arab states to help the Syrian refugees.

Turkish MPs accompanied Abdullah Kurdi to Kobani, the scene of fierce fighting between Islamic State insurgents and Kurdish forces earlier this year. Journalists and well-wishers were stopped at a checkpoint about two miles from the border.

The bodies were then flown to a town near Turkey's border with Syria, from where police escorted funeral vehicles to Suruc and across the border to Kobani.

The distraught father explained the boat started taking in water about 500 metres from the shore, and that, in spite of his best efforts, he had not been able to hold onto his wife and two sons.

"I was holding my wife's hand," he told the Turkish news agency Dogan.

"But my children slipped through my hands. It was dark and everyone was screaming."

Unlike other Syrians heading for Europe, the Kurdi family lived in Turkey for three years before deciding to head to Canada, where Abdullah's sister has for several years attempted, and failed, to sponsor their asylum claim. Abdullah said: "I want from Arab governments, not European countries, to see my children, and because of them to help people."

Aylan's death has galvanised public opinion and put pressure on European governments to tackle the continent's refugee crisis since this picture of a paramilitary police officer carrying him from the beach was published this week.

Belfast Telegraph

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