The Drowned Syrian Boy Whose Image Shocked The World Has Been Buried

    Abdullah Kurdi and his sister Tima have spoken of the moment his wife and two sons died in an attempt to cross from Turkey to Greece. WARNING: This post contains distressing content.

    Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach and whose image has shocked people around the world, has been buried, along with his brother and mother.

    Farewell Alan, Ghalib and Rehana. Just burried. RIP. #AlanKurdi

    A large crowd gathered in the family's hometown of Kobani in Syria for the funeral of Aylan, 3, Galip, 5, and their mother, Rehan, after their bodies were transported from Turkey.

    مراسلة #أخبار_الآن: أهالي #كوباني يودعون بحزن #الطفل_السوري_الغريق وعائلته

    Aylan Kurdi's Father in Kobane, During the funeral. @sommervillebbc

    The burials took place as the family spoke of the shock of the deaths and the sadness they now live with.

    Ben Nelms / Reuters

    Tima Kurdi outside her home in Canada.

    Murad Sezer / Reuters

    Abdullah Kurdi

    The image of Aylan's dead body lying on the shore has become a global symbol of the humanitarian crisis of people fleeing the Middle East and Africa for Europe.

    The three drowned as their dinghy made its way across the Mediterranean from Akyarlar in Turkey to the Greek island of Kos in the early hours of Wednesday.

    Abdullah's sister Tima Kurdi, who has lived in Canada for the last 20 years, has described her brother's desperation as he tried to save the lives of his wife and children.

    She told the BBC on Friday morning in her first British TV interview of her contact with Abdullah before and after the boat capsized.

    Tima, who gave the family money to pay people-smugglers to make the trip, told him to text as soon as he arrived on Kos, but the message never came.


    Abdullah spoke to Tima after the tragedy and described the moment his family was standing on the shore looking out to "crystal-clear" waters, hopeful of a new life in Europe. They were all wearing lifejackets and Adbullah insisted they wouldn't travel on a flimsy rubber boat, she said.

    Abdullah told her: "When we were leaving everyone was very happy. ... Alyan was laughing, [he was] so happy he was going somewhere."

    Ben Nelms / Reuters
    Ozan Kose / Getty

    The boys asked their father where they were going, and he told them: "I'm going to take you for a nice boat trip and we're going to go to Europe."

    Tima continued: "Aylan was laughing, he's a happy boy, always laughing, never crying."

    Hogp / AP

    In this picture made available by the Turkish Coast Guard in June, a capsized boat used by migrants to try to cross to Kos is seen in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Bodrum, Turkey.

    Ten minutes into the crossing the boat was hit with a small wave, which made Aylan laugh with joy. But then a much larger wave overturned the boat, leaving Abdullah panicking to save his family.

    Tima said: "Abdullah tried to hold the two boys and the wave [was] pushing him down, so he tried to push them up – he said, 'Please don't die, just breathe!' but the waves [were] pushing them down. ... He finally managed to push them up."

    Speaking last night outside the mortuary in Turkey where his sons' bodies were being held, Abdullah, 40, said: "I just want to see my children for the last time and stay forever with them."

    Murad Sezer / Reuters

    Abdullah Kurdi leaving a morgue in Mugla, Turkey.

    Twitter: @Qattouby

    Aylan Kurdi

    "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 realised they were all dead," he told AP.

    He told the Mirror: "I'm going to stay wherever my boy's graves are. I wanted a better life for them that's why I left. I tried to seek asylum in Canada but my application was rejected.

    "I saw the Turkish smuggler jump in the sea and leave us fighting alone. My first son died from the high waves. I was obliged to leave him to save the other one.

    "People panicked when water filled the boat and it sank. We had life vests and I was holding my wife's hands. My children slipped from my hands."

    Abdullah told Tima of his message to the world, after the image of Aylan was seen by millions: "My kids and my wife [are] dead, hopefully this a wake-up call for the whole world and please let them step in and help refugees and the rest of the Syrians."

    Ozan Kose / AFP / Getty Images

    Men load the coffins of people including 3-year old Aylan Kurdi on to a funeral vehicle at the morgue in Mugla, southern Turkey, on Thursday.

    Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Patrick Smith at

    Got a confidential tip? Submit it here