The photo of Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year old migrant whose drowned body was found on a Turkish shore, has inspired calls for greater responsibility from world powers for the lives of migrants as well as countless pieces of art in his honor.
But who was Aylan Kurdi?
He was the youngest child of a Syrian family of four who, in an act of desperation fled their homeland on small boat to cross the Aegean sea to the Greek island of Kos. The boat capsized and Alyan, his older brother, and their mother drowned.
Alyan’s father Abdullah Kurdi, was the only one who survived. He described the tragedy in an interview reported by The Globe and Mail:
“When we were away from the Turkish coast, oh my God the waves, we died. The Turk [smuggler] jumped into the sea, then a wave came and flipped us over. I grabbed my sons and wife and we held onto the boat.
“We stayed like that for an hour, then the first [son] died and I left him so I could help the other, then the second died, so I left him as well to help his mom and I found her dead. … what do I do. … I spent three hours waiting for the coast guard to come. The life jackets we were wearing were all fake.
“My wife is my world and I have nothing, by God. I don’t even think of getting married again or having more kids. … I am choking, I cannot breathe. They died in my arms.”
Abdullah Kurdi reportedly paid roughly $6,000 each for four seats on a five-meter-long rubber boat. The vessel was filled with 12 passengers.
“The United Nations estimates that some 2,500 people have lost their lives on risky sea journeys as they try to escape violence and repression at home,” NPR reports. “Like all numbers associated with the migration crisis, this one can be hard to fathom. But the message of Aylan Kurdi’s photo seems clear enough: The world needs to do better in addressing migrants’ needs, safety and dignity.”
Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on Twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely@mattlee2669.