KOBANI, Syria (Reuters) - Two young Syrian brothers and their mother who drowned while trying to reach Greece were buried on Friday in their home town of Kobani and their distraught father begged Arab countries to do more to help Syria’s refugees.
Images of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, washed up dead on a Turkish beach, shocked the world this week, giving a human face to the large-scale refugee disaster unfolding across Europe and prompting both empathy and outrage over the perceived failure of rich, developed nations to protect such vulnerable people.
Abdullah Kurdi, the boys’ father, wept as he watched Aylan’s tiny body being placed into a coffin. It was afterwards lowered into the ground, along with those of his brother Galip, 5, and their mother Rehan, 35, in the ‘Martyrs’ Cemetery’ in Kobani, a mainly Kurdish town in northern Syria near the Turkish border.
“I want Arab governments - not European countries - to see (what happened to) my children, and because of them to help people,” he told reporters earlier at the border crossing as ambulances ferried the three bodies from Turkey into Syria.
The ambulances drove past sobbing mourners, Kurdish flags, and Kobani’s shelled-out buildings towards the cemetery.
The United Nations refugee agency estimates more than 300,000 people have used dangerous sea-routes so far this year to reach Europe, with around 2,500 losing their lives.
Many of those refugees have fled Syria’s four-year civil war, in which more than 250,000 people have been killed and some 11 million — half of the country’s population — driven from their homes.
Of those displaced, some four million have fled abroad, mostly to neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
Abdullah has said he decided to try to reach Europe with his family after Canada — where his sister lives — rejected his application for asylum.
His wife and sons were among 12 people to die after two boats capsized while trying to reach the Greek island of Kos from Turkey.
Abdullah said on Thursday he wanted the world to take action to ensure that his children were the last to die in such a way.
Writing by Tom Perry/John Davison in Beirut; Editing by Gareth Jones