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Father hopes to join Alan Kurdi German rescue ship

September 29, 2019

The image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned crossing the Mediterranean Sea fleeing the Syrian civil war, caused international outrage. Alan's father now hopes to join the German rescue boat named after his son.

Abdullah Kurdi cries with his sister Tima Kurdi in front of a rescue ship named after his dead son Alan Kurdi
Image: Imago Images/Spot on Mallorca

The father of Alan Kurdi, the drowned three-year-old Syrian boy whose death was captured in a photograph that shocked the world, is planning to join a German migrant rescue mission named after his son.

In an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica published on Sunday, Abdullah Kurdi, 45, spoke of his plan to assist efforts on the boat operated by German charity Sea-Eye.

Telling the daily he has since remarried and his new wife is pregnant, Kurdi said: "As soon as my son (is) born, I will go on the ship to save migrants. I want to give them the help that I did not get."

Abdullah Kurdi
Abdullah Kurdi had hopes of building a new life in Europe Image: Imago Images/Spot on Mallorca

Kurdi's first wife drowned in 2015 together with the couples two sons as the family tried to reach the Greek isalnd of Kos from Bodrum in Turkey. 

Sea-Eye's 'strong emotional bond' with family

Sea-Eye spokesman Gorden Isler confirmed that the organization had been in contact with Kurdi about joining the mission which will operate in the Mediterranean Sea. 

Read more: Aunt of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi calls for compassion

"We have built a strong and emotional bond with the family" Isler said, before adding: "if we succeed in fulfilling all organizational requirements, then we would be happy that Abdullah accompanies the ship. He will then be part of the crew and also take over tasks."

The father of Alan Kurdi sits on the side of the migrant rescue ship named after his drowned son
The EU ceased official rescue missions in 2014 replacing them with border enforcement operations with security agency FrontexImage: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Lüdemann

The Alan Kurdi ship is currently docked at the port of Burriana, in Spain, as the charity does not have sufficient funds for further rescue missions, despite hoping to resume missions on October 12. 

International outrage

In 2015, Alan Kurdi's death caused international outrage and shock when a photograph surfaced showing his drowned body washed up on a beach.

His death came at the peak of the migrant crisis, and following his image going viral, European leaders pledged to act to help those attempting the perilous journey across the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece.

Kurdi now lives in Erbil, in Kurdish Iraq, and runs a charity helping children in refugee camps.

kmm/jlw (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)