Aylan Kurdi: Funeral held for Syrian boy who drowned

The three-year-old Syrian boy whose death galvanised public opinion and put pressure on European governments to tackle the continent’s refugee crisis has been buried in the town of Kobani alongside his mother and brother.

The body of Aylan Kurdi, who drowned along with his mother Rehan and his five-year-old brother Ghalib, washed up on a beach not far from the Turkish resort town of Bodrum on Wednesday. Photographs showed him lying face down in the surf, wearing a bright-red T-shirt and shorts.

Aylan’s father, Abdullah, who survived the capsizing that killed his family, wept as the bodies were buried in the predominantly Kurdish Syrian border town. Speaking at the crossing with Turkey, he said he hoped the death of his family would encourage Arab states to help Syrian refugees.

“I want from Arab governments, not European countries, to see my children, and because of them to help people,” he said in footage posted online by a local radio station.

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

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 of Aylan, Ghalib and Rehan were found on Wednesday after the small rubber boat they were travelling in capsized. They were among 12 refugees who drowned off Bodrum that day.

Unlike other Syrians heading for Europe , the Kurdi family had lived in Turkey for three years before deciding to head to Canada, where Abdullah’s sister lives.

Abdullah said the boat in which the family had been travelling had started taking in water about 500 metres from the shore and that, despite his best efforts, he had not been able to hold on to 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.” – © Guardian News & Media 2015

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