The 3-year-old who drowned and washed up on a Turkish beach has been buried in Kobani. Aylan Kurdi, his mother and brother are among thousands who have died trying to escape violence in Syria and reach Europe.
Scores of mourners gathered Friday as the bodies were laid in graves at the Martyrs Cemetery in Kobani, hometown of the Kurdi family that has been in the world's spotlight ever since an image of 3-year-old Aylan surfaced online, perished and washed up on a Turkish beach.
Abdullah Kurdi was the lone survivor in his family's voyage. With the burial, he abandoned any thought of leaving his homeland again.
"He only wanted to go to Europe for the sake of his children," said Suleiman Kurdi, an uncle of the grieving father. "Now that they're dead, he wants to stay here in Kobani next to them."
The bodies of the mother and the two boys were flown to a city near Turkey's border with Syria, whence police-protected funeral vehicles made their way to the border town of Suruc and crossed into Kobani.
Legislators from Turkey accompanied Abdullah Kurdi to Kobani. Journalists and well-wishers were stopped at a checkpoint some 3 kilometers (2 miles) from the border.
Migrants continue journey
The route between Bodrum and the Greek island Kos, just a few miles, is one of the shortest from Turkey to the Greek islands, but that doesn't mean it's not dangerous. Hundreds of people per day try to cross it - despite the well-known risks.
The only thing holding back more Syrian refugees from attempting the crossing on Friday was a media frenzy of journalists crowding the shore.
"We saw the picture of the baby, [but] we have no other chance," said 36-year old Abdulmenem Alsatouf, a father of three children who once ran a supermarket in the Syrian city of Idlib.
He is now one of thousands of migrants waiting for their chance to make the nocturnal crossing to the Greek island of Kos from Turkey's resort of Bodrum, one perilous leg in a journey for which smugglers charge thousands of dollars.
"We can't go back to Idlib, and there is no job for us in Turkey. I want to go to Germany but Sweden, Belgium, they are all fine. We are going to go to Kos in a few days," he added.
Those planning to make the journey say they already know the odds. The United Nations refugee agency estimates more than 300,000 people have used dangerous sea routes to reach Europe this year alone, with around 2,500 perishing in the Mediterranean Sea.
"I know the trip is dangerous. These deaths didn't start with the toddler; many people have drowned," 22-year old Mohammad Shaar said as he waited for his chance to cross.
"If European policies were not so brutal, our people wouldn't have died in the sea. These people are obliged to make that trip, there is no other way for us," Shaar said.
glb/se (AFP, dpa)