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German migrant rescue charity renames ship after drowned Syrian toddler

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

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German migrant marine rescue charity Sea-Eye on Sunday renamed their ship after Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian child who drowned offshore of Turkey. Relatives of the boy attended the renaming ceremony on the Spanish island of Majorca.

A mural in Frankfurt am Main, Germany of Alan Kurdi lying deceased.
Image: Photograph by Frank C. Müller.

Kurdi, his brother, and his mother were among eleven migrants who died in a storm on the Mediterranean Sea in 2015; they had, his surviving father says, paid people smugglers to take them from Turkey to Greece in a small inflatable boat. A photograph of his remains on a Turkish beach drew widespread attention. The accident happened during the height of the European migrant crisis, which saw a large spike in immigration to the continent.

"This day is very hard for me, as I re-experience many memories," said his father, Abdullah Kurdi, following the ceremony. "It's people with good heart in this organization. So my boy's name stands for something good and his little soul can find ... peace." Abdullah Kurdi now resides in Iraq. The boy's aunt, Tima Kurdi, also attended the ceremony.

Sea-Eye spokesperson Carlotta Weibl said "The name 'Alan Kurdi' shall be a reminder of what our work is really about. It is not about ships, captains, NGOs [Non-Governmental Organizations] and clashes with misguided politicians. It is about actual persons, like Alan, [and his brother and mother], who drown in the Mediterranean daily[, and] it is about the endless pain and grief their loved ones have to feel." Sea-Eye credit themselves with around 14,000 lives saved during 60 rescues since commencing work in 2016. Their ship, MV Alan Kurdi, was previously MV Professor Albrecht Penck.

Turkey sentenced two people smugglers to four years of prison each for their roles in the events surrounding Kurdi and his fellow migrants' September 2015 deaths. Kurdi's image lead to international public calls for more effort to assist migrants from Syria; since then, anti-immigration groups have increased their numbers and activities in Europe.

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