Father's plea for Syria's children

By Josie Ensor

A year after he lost his family, Alan Kurdi’s dad calls for action over Syria, writes Josie Ensor.
Zaid, an 8-year-old Syrian refugee now living in Spain, poses with a sign reading in Spanish: "I survived, 423 other children did not", in front of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid. Picture / AP
Zaid, an 8-year-old Syrian refugee now living in Spain, poses with a sign reading in Spanish: "I survived, 423 other children did not", in front of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid. Picture / AP

The father of Alan Kurdi, the young Syrian boy pictured washed up on a Turkish beach who became a symbol of the refugee crisis, has accused the world of turning its back on Syria as people continue to die.

On the eve of the one year anniversary of his son's death, Abdullah Kurdi pleaded with the international community to act to stop the bloodshed in his country, saying the attention paid to his family's misfortune had saved nothing. "The politicians said after the deaths in my family: Never again!" Kurdi, 41, said yesterday. "Everyone claimed they wanted to do something because of the photo that touched them so much. But what is happening now? People are still dying and nobody is doing anything about it."

In September last year, Kurdi's wife Rehab, Alan, 3, and his oldest son Galip, 5, drowned after their boat took on water and capsized in the Mediterranean as the family tried to reach Europe. Wearing a red T-shirt and denim shorts as he lay face-down in the sand, the shocking image of Alan drew the world's attention to the deadly journey made by thousands of migrants.

Kurdi, a Syrian Kurd from the town of Kobane, told the German newspaper Bild that it was right for the photo of his son to be published.

"These things must be shown to make clear to people what is happening. But in the end the picture did not change much. The horror in Syria must finally stop," he said, speaking from his apartment in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, where he lives alone.

He has kept his late son's stuffed toys in a cabinet in the living room to remember him by. "Now I'm probably safer than I've ever been in my life," he said. "But for what?"

The picture helped shape the debate on the migrant crisis and was responsible in part for Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to open Germany's doors to refugees. In Britain, more than 100,000 people marched on the streets in reaction to the image to call on the Government to welcome refugees. It led to David Cameron, the Prime Minister at the time, promising that the UK would take in 4000 Syrian refugees a year - a target it has yet to reach.

"One year after the body of Alan Kurdi was washed up on a beach in Turkey, thousands of children continue to die in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas," said Steve Symonds, of Amnesty International UK. "The global response to the refugee crisis since Alan's death has been an utter disaster."

The flow of migrants to Europe has been stemmed under a deal between Turkey and the EU. But amid delays in implementing the deal, thousands remain penned up in Greece, where yesterday migrants and refugees mounted protests.

The conflict in Syria, now in its sixth year, has only deteriorated since Alan's death.

A new viral picture, again of a 3-year-Syrian boy, highlighted the dire situation in Aleppo, which has been pummelled by bombs. Omran Daqneesh was pictured covered in dust and bleeding after an air strike on his family's home last month. He survived with light injuries but his 10-year-old brother died.Telegraph Group Ltd

- Daily Telegraph UK

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