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Father of dead Syrian boy speaks of devastating loss

Abdullah Kurdi (40), father of two young boys washed up on a Turkish beach. Picture by Mehmet Can Meral/AP Photo
Staff Reporter

THE father of a Syrian boy found washed up on a Turkish beach has spoken of the devastating loss of his loved ones.

Aylan Kurdi, three, was found on a Turkish beach after the small rubber boat he and his family were in capsized in a desperate voyage from Turkey to Greece.

A photo of his body has focused the world's attention on a wave of war-and-deprivation-fuelled migration unmatched since World War Two.

Aylan died along with five-year-old brother Galip and his mother, Rehan, leaving their distraught father, Abdullah, to cope with his loss. He said he now only wanted to sit by the graves of his wife and children.

"My kids were the most beautiful children in the world, wonderful. They wake me up every morning to play with them. They are all gone now," he said.

A Canadian legislator said the family, fleeing the conflict in Syria, had been turned down in a bid for legal entry to Canada even though it had close relatives there offering financial backing and shelter, but Canada's Department of Citizenship and Immigration later denied that assertion.

"There was no record of an application received for Mr Abdullah Kurdi and his family," the department said in a statement, indicating that a bid for another member of the family, Mohammad Kurdi, had been returned as incomplete.

Tima Kurdi of Vancouver, who is Abdullah's sister, initially told Canadian media that the family had embarked on the perilous boat journey only after its bid was rejected.

She later said, however, that no formal request for refugee status had been made on Abdullah Kurdi's behalf, saying one was filed, and rejected, on another relative's behalf.

Describing the tragedy, Abdullah Kurdi said the overloaded boat flipped over moments after the captain, described as a Turkish man, panicked and abandoned the vessel, leaving Abdullah as the de facto commander of a small boat overmatched by high seas.

"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 said.

The distraught father, who worked as a barber in Syria, added: "All I want is to be with my children at the moment."

Abdullah Kurdi said the boat, headed for the Greek island of Kos, was only at sea for four minutes before the captain abandoned the vessel and its 12 passengers.

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