3 Sep 2015

Abdullah Kurdi tells of struggle to save his sons

The father of a Syrian child who died trying to reach Europe has described how he fought to save his family after being abandoned by a people smuggler.

Abdullah Kurdi

Abdullah Kurdi lost his sons Aylan, 3, and Galip, 5, and his wife Rhian as they tried to make the dangerous crossing from Turkey to Greece.

Twelve people died, including at least two other children, when two boats capsized off the coast near Bodrum.

Mr Kurdi, whose family fled the besieged town of Kobani last year as Islamic State fighters advanced, described how he paid E4,000 to smugglers to get his family to Greece.

My first son died from the high waves. I was obliged to leave him to save the other one. Abdullah Kurdi

“We were 12 people on a fishing boat which was five metres long”, he told Rozana FM. “We sailed and after a short distance the waves were very high.

“I saw the Turkish smuggler jump in the sea and leave us fighting alone.”

He said that the boat overturned and he and his wife helped their sons hang on to the upturned boat for about an hour. In a statement to police, obtained by the Hurriyet newspaper, he said his children “slipped away from my hands”.

“My first son died from the high waves. I was obliged to leave him to save the other one,” he said.

Let this be the last. Abdullah Kurdi

Mr Kurdi said his second son then died, and he could see foam coming from his mouth. “I left him and went to save my wife who I found dead as well,” he said.

“After that I stayed in the water for three hours before the coastguards came and saved me.”

Mr Kurdi said he wanted the world’s attention on what had happened to his family so the same thing would not be repeated.

“The things that happened to us here, in the country where we took refuge to escape war in our homeland, we want the whole world to see this,” he said.

“We want the world’s attention on us, so that they can prevent the same from happening to others. Let this be the last.”