The distraught father of two Syrian toddlers who drowned with their mother while trying to escape their war-torn country to Greece has identified their bodies.
Abdullah Kurdi collapsed in tears after emerging from a morgue in the city of Mugla near Bodrum,where the body of his three-year-old son Aylan washed up on Wednesday.
Mr Kurdi is now preparing to take their bodies back to their home town of Kobane, where he says he wants to “sit next to the grave of my children and wife and rest”.
A photograph of the boy’s tiny body in a bright red shirt and dark shorts, face-down in the surf, appeared in media outlets around the world, prompting sympathy and outrage at the perceived inaction of developed nations in helping refugees.
Aylan’s five-year-old brother Galip, and mother Rehan, 35, were among 12 people, including other children, who died after two boats capsized while trying to reach the Greek island of Kos.
“The things that happened to us here, in the country where we took refuge to escape war in our homeland — we want the whole world to see this,” Mr Kurdi said.
“We want the world’s attention on us, so that they can prevent the same from happening to others. Let this be the last.
“My children were the most beautiful in the world. Is their anybody for whom their child is not the most precious thing?
“They woke me everyday to play with them. Is there anything more beautiful than this?
“Everything is gone.”
In a statement to police obtained by the Hurriyet newspaper, Mr Kurdi said he had twice paid smugglers to take him and his family to Greece, but their efforts had failed.
They had then decided to find a boat and row themselves, but it began to take in water and when people stood up in panic, it capsized.
“I was holding my wife’s hand. My children slipped away from my hands. We tried to hold on to the boat,” he said in the statement.
“Everyone was screaming in pitch darkness. I couldn’t make my voice heard to my wife and kids.”
The image of Aylan, drowned off one of Turkey’s most popular holiday resorts, went viral on social media and piled pressure on European leaders.
“European countries, which have turned the Mediterranean, the cradle of the world’s oldest civilisations, into a cemetery for refugees, shares the sin for every refugee who loses their life,” Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said.
French prime minister Manuel Valls took to Twitter, writing: “He had a name: Aylan Kurdi. Urgent action required – A Europe-wide mobilisation is urgent.”