The Slatest

Father of Drowned Syrian Boy Describes Son’s Death

Abdullah Kurdi leaving a morgue in Turkey on Thursday.

Murad Sezer/Reuters

The father of the 3-year-old Syrian drowning victim whose photograph made headlines around the world Wednesday has identified the bodies of the boy, the boy’s sister, and his mother at a Turkish morgue, Reuters reports. The man’s name is Abdullah Kurdi; his 3-year-old son Aylan*, his 5-year-old son Galip, and his 35-year-old wife Rehan died along with nine others while trying to row to Greece from Turkey. From the AP:


Abdullah Kurdi said Thursday that the boat’s captain panicked due to high waves and jumped into the sea, leaving him in control of the small craft with his family and other migrants aboard.

“I took over and started steering. The waves were so high and the boat flipped. I took my wife and my kids in my arms and I realized they were all dead,” he said. The distraught father added: “All I want is to be with my children at the moment.”


As Slate’s Joshua Keating wrote Wednesday, “the death toll resulting from thousands of refugees making the dangerous journey from the Middle East and North Africa into Europe has been swelling for months, and so far, help is not on the way.” The Kurdi family’s application for legal asylum in Canada was rejected before their attempt to reach Greece. Abdullah Kurdi says he plans to take his family’s bodies home to Syria to be buried in the war-torn city of Kobani.

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

Also in Slate, see the latest photographs from the European refugee crisis.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the European migrant crisis.

*Correction, Sept. 3, 2015: This post originally misspelled Aylan Kurdi’s name.