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Migrant rescue ship named after drowned toddler

February 10, 2019

The photograph of three-year-old Alan Kurdi's lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach shocked the world in 2015. A German rescue organization has now named a ship after the toddler.

Sea-Eye migrant rescue ship "Alan Kurdi"
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Lüdemann

A German migrant rescue ship operating in the Mediterranean was renamed after Alan Kurdi on Sunday. Kurdi was  the three-year-old Syrian Kurdish boy whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish shore during the height of Europe's migrant crisis, galvanizing global opinion.

German charity Sea-Eye renamed the ship in the presence of Alan's father, Abdullah Kurdi, and aunt, Tima Kurdi, in Palma on Spain's Balearic Island of Mallorca.

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

"We are happy that a German rescue ship will carry the name of our boy. My boy on the beach must never be forgotten. Our grief for the loss of my wife and sons is shared by many, by thousands of families who have so tragically lost sons and daughters this way," Abdullah Kurdi said in a statement released by Sea-Eye.

Abdullah had fled the "Islamic State" and the Syrian civil war, deciding in 2015 to pay people smugglers to take him and his family from Turkey to Greece after Turkish authorities didn't grant the family the exit visas needed to join Tima in Canada.

EINSCHRÄNKUNG IM TEXT BEACHTEN! Dieses Bild soll nur als Artikelbild zum Kommentar des Chefredakteurs gebucht werden Türkei Bodrum Aylan Kurdi
The image of Alan Kurdi moved the world Image: Reuters/Stringer

The tiny boat capsized minutes after leaving Turkey, killing 11 people including Abdullah's wife, Rehanna, and two sons, Ghalib and Alan.

Read more: Germany turning away more Yazidi refugees 

A photograph of Alan's lifeless body face down in the sand on a Turkish beach shocked the world, becoming a symbol of the migration crisis and rallying cry for humane action.

Sea-Eye says it has saved more than 14,000 people from drowning during dangerous boat crossings in the Mediterranean since it started operating in 2016.

The rescue ship was previously named Professor Albrecht Penck.

cw/rc (AFP, dpa)

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