Father of drowned Syrian toddler asks world to open its doors

Father of drowned Syrian toddler asks world to open its doors
PHOTO: Reuters, AFP

The father of three-year old Aylan Kurdi, whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach became a symbol of the global refugee crisis, has asked the world to open its doors to Syrians fleeing conflict.

The toddler died after his family, sheltering in Turkey from the war in Syria, decided to make a desperate bid to reach Greece from Turkey in a flimsy inflatable boat.

Shocking news images of the toddler face down on the shore helped spur European nations to seek an effective response to the growing migrant crisis.

"My message is I'd like the whole world to open its doors to Syrians. If a person shuts a door in someone's face, this is very difficult," Abdullah Kurdi says in a video message to be broadcast on Christmas Day.

"When a door is opened they no longer feel humiliated," he says according to a transcript released by Britain's Channel 4.

Aylan's mother Rihana and brother Ghaleb, 4, died in the same accident and were buried in the Syrian town of Kobane in September, days after the tragedy.

Abdullah Kurdi had been trying to escape along with his family and up to three other Syrians from the flashpoint town, which was last year the site of a months-long battle between Kurdish militias and jihadists.

More than one million migrants and refugees reached Europe this year, including over 970,000 who made the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.

About half were Syrians fleeing the country's brutal civil war, according to the new figures.

"At this time of year I would like to ask you all to think about the pain of fathers, mothers and children who are seeking peace and security," Kurdi says.

"We ask just for a little bit of sympathy from you." EU leaders have set an end-of-June deadline to agree on a new border and coastguard force to slow the influx of migrants across the 28-nation bloc's porous external frontiers.

They have also called for the rapid delivery of a promised 3.0 billion euros ($3.25 billion) in aid for refugees in Turkey in return for its help in stemming the flow.

Life is a struggle for most Syrians in Turkey, who live mostly off odd jobs that are often insufficient to feed and house a family.

Following a slew of emergency summits this year, EU leaders have acknowledged they were too slow to carry out a joint strategy to tackle Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II.

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