- The child’s mother and brother also drowned in Turkey
- “Everything I was dreaming of is gone,” says his father, Abdullah Kurdi
Instead, it will end with a funeral for the 2-year-old in the city he tried to flee.
Aylan’s body arrived in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Friday. From there, it will make its final trip home to Kobani, the Syrian city his family left to escape the daily barrage of bombs.
His funeral is expected to take place this weekend.
Images of the small Syrian boy will live on long after he’s gone. The photos, which have galvanized the world and become the latest symbol of the migrant crisis in Europe, show his tiny body lying on a Turkish beach. He’s wearing a red shirt and black shoes, his face partly covered by sand and gentle waves, as if he was sleeping.
Only his father survived
Aylan’s family was among the throngs making the treacherous journey aboard overcrowded rafts bobbling in the choppy Mediterranean waters.
Exhausted of the constant conflict and struggle for survival, they left their hometown in search of a better, safer life.
Aylan, his brother, Galip, 4, and mother, Rehen, drowned trying to make that dream a reality.
Only the children’s father, Abdullah Kurdi, survived.
He’ll accompany their bodies to Kobani, according to Anadolu news agency.
Tiny body, big message
Abdullah Kurdi says he boarded a small, overcrowded boat in Turkey with 12 people on board. It was manned by two smugglers: a Turk and a Syrian.
“I told him, ‘Should we empty the boat? Should I get off with my wife and child?'”
One of the smugglers replied, “‘No, no, it is good,'” he recounted.
As soon as the boat set out, large waves crashed against it. They pounded harder, forcing one smuggler to jump overboard and swim toward shore. Kurdi said he tried to take control of the boat, but it capsized in the rough waters.
“I tried to reach for my wife and children,” he said. “I was in the water for 20 minutes. One person after another was dying.”
Kurdi said he was trying to get to Sweden by way of Greece, but described his life as hopeless without his family.
“I don’t want anything else from this world,” Kurdi said. “Everything I was dreaming of is gone. I want to bury my children and sit beside them until I die.”
Four Syrians are in custody on suspicion of human trafficking in the deaths.
Trying to get to Canada
Kurdi’s sister had filed refugee paperwork to obtain permission for the family to live in Canada, but the application was rejected in June, Canadian parliament member Fin Donnelly told CNN partner CTV.
But Tima Kurdi, who lives in Vancouver, said the paperwork was for a different brother, not Kurdi.
The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada confirmed Thursday it never received an application for Abdullah.
Tima Kurdi said she knew of her brother’s plans to make the dangerous voyage.
Thousands have died
Hundreds of thousands of migrants have traveled by boat or train, shoved into buses or walked for days, sometimes months, to reach Europe shores.
More than 2,600 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe this year alone, making it the most deadly migrant crossing point in the world. The International Organization for Migration warned last month that those numbers will soar.
In one case last month, 71 bodies — mostly people who had fled Syria — were found in an abandoned truck in Austria.
Nearly three-quarters of the world’s migrant deaths this year have occurred in the Mediterranean, according to the organization. And the number of deaths in the region so far this year — 2,643 — is nearly 20% higher than last year’s 2,223.
Some have drowned while others got crushed in stampedes or asphyxiated by boat engine fumes.
More than 350,000 people have arrived in Europe so far this year, seeking sanctuary from war, persecution or poverty.
Their arrival has sparked support in some areas across Europe and backlash in others.
Foreign Ministers Paolo Gentiloni of Italy, Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany and Laurent Fabius of France have presented the European Union with a joint document calling for a revision of asylum rules and a fairer distribution of refugees. No specifics have been provided.
“These people are forced to go on boats, they pay 4,000 or 5,000 euros and they die in these desperate circumstances,” said Antonio Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees. “This doesn’t make sense. We need to have a coherent response to this situation … only Europe as a whole, based on solidarity, can give that response.”
Aylan’s photo has sparked criticism against Europe for not doing enough to help the migrants escaping Africa and the Middle East.
CNN’s Catherine Shoichet and Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.
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