The 3-year-old Syrian boy whose body was found this week on the shores of Turkey was laid to rest on Friday in his hometown. The Associated Press reported that a burial was held for the Syrian boy, his brother, and their mother, all of whom lost their lives when their small rubber boat capsized in the choppy waters off the Turkish coast. Only the three-year-old's father, Abdullah Kurdi, survived.
Kurdi flew the bodies of his family back to Kobani, a city on the Turkey-Syria border that came under siege by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria late last year. In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Kurdi said he and his wife, Rehen, were hoping to find a better life abroad for his sons, 3-year-old Aylan and 4-year-old Galip. But now, he returns to war-torn Syria without his family.
"Everything I was dreaming of is gone," Kurdi told CNN. "I want to bury my children and sit beside them until I die."Kurdi briefly described the deadly journey from Turkey to Greece — a short trip, but a dangerous one. He said the family boarded a small boat operated by two smugglers. Almost immediately, Kurdi knew they were in trouble, as powerful waves pummeled the boat, eventually causing it to capsize.
"I was in the water for 20 minutes," Kurdi told CNN. "One person after another was dying."
According to the AP, Kurdi gave a different account of the sinking to Turkish police. Kurdi reportedly told authorities that there were no smugglers on board the small boat. However, the AP noted that refugees are frequently told not to report the smugglers.
The image of Aylan's lifeless body abandoned on a sunny Turkish beach gripped the world this week, signaling to leaders in Europe that something needs to be done. Aylan's tragedy came barely a week after a truck with at least 71 bodies of refugees, most of whom were from Syria, was found abandoned on the side of an Austrian highway. Now, officials in Germany, France, and Italy are calling on the European Union to address the growing number of refugees hitting European shores, and the unsafe and inhumane conditions they're being subjected to at the hands of illegal smugglers.
On Friday, the United Nations called on the European Union to accept up to 200,000 refugees as part of a "mass relocation program." The European Union has yet to respond to the UN.
Traveling to Europe by boat is the common route for refugees from Syria and other parts of the Middle East, as well as migrants from North Africa. Kurdi told The New York Times in an interview that he had attempted to flee to Europe on his own in the past. One time, he got as far as the Bulgarian border, but was caught by authorities, Kurdi told the news source.
This time, Kurdi said he paid about $4,500 to cross the sea with his family. "The Turkish smuggler said it was going to be a yacht," he told The New York Times.
Back in Kobani on Friday, Kurdi laid to rest his wife and two children, surrounded by family members, friends, and the city's residents. “Even if you give me all the countries in the world, I don’t want them," Kurdi told The New York Times.
He added that all he wanted was for the illegal smuggling to end. "What I really want now is for the smuggling to stop, and to find a
solution for those people who are paying the blood of their hearts just
to leave," he said.
According to The Guardian, Kurdi made another plea on local radio, attacking the Arab nations, including his native Syria. “I want from Arab governments, not European countries, to see my children,” Kurdi said.