Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

Emotional father of Alan Kurdi renames rescue ship

Three-year-old Syrian boy died with his mother and brother on boat to Europe

Abdullah Kurdi is overcome with emotion at the inauguration of the German rescue ship in honour of his son in Palma de Mallorca. AFP
Abdullah Kurdi is overcome with emotion at the inauguration of the German rescue ship in honour of his son in Palma de Mallorca. AFP

The father of a three-year-old Syrian boy, whose death focused global attention on the plight of refugees fleeing for Europe, renamed a rescue ship in his honour at an emotional ceremony on Sunday

More than three years after the death of his son, Abdullah Kurdi, smashed a bottle on the hull of the newly-renamed German rescue ship Alan Kurdi in Palma de Mallorca in the Spanish Balearic Islands.

Mr Kurdi’s wife and his two sons died in September 2015 during an attempt to reach Europe. The photograph of the lifeless body of his younger son on a Turkish beach drew attention to the desperation of millions fleeing war and strife in the Middle East and North Africa.

Struggling with his emotions, Mr Kurdi knelt before the ship before the ceremony and told reporters that he had found it difficult to enter the harbour.

“He was very emotional when he saw the name of his son on the ship,” said Carlotta Weibl, spokeswoman for the German humanitarian organisation Sea-Eye.

“He said that it had been a very hard day for him but was very thankful that we had asked to use his son’s name on the ship.”

The ceremony included contributions from a government minister, the Muslim community on the islands and a blessing from a Catholic bishop.

More than 10,000 people have died or are missing in the three years since Alan Kurdi’s death, according to UN figures.

Updated: February 10, 2019 07:48 PM

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