13:34 GMT +323 October 2019
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    Abdullah Kurdi, father of three-year old Aylan Kurdi, cries as he leaves a morgue in Mugla, Turkey, September 3, 2015

    Aylan Kurdi's Father Was Captain of Disaster Boat, Survivors Claim

    © REUTERS / Murad Sezer
    Middle East
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    Survivors of the tragedy allege that Abdullah Kurdi was working as a people smuggler, and captained the boat of Syrian refugees which capsized en route to Greece.

    The father of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who died with his brother and mother when the small boat they were traveling in capsized on the treacherous journey by sea from Turkey to Greece, has been accused of being a people smuggler.

    Other refugees who survived the accident told reporters on Friday that Abdullah Kurdi was piloting the boat which capsized, contradicting Kurdi's claim that he was traveling on the boat as a passenger, and that the captain panicked and jumped overboard when the vessel hit a wave.  

    Zainab Abbas, an Iraqi refugee whose son and daughter died on the journey, alleges that she and her family were introduced to Abdullah Kurdi as the captain of the boat, prior to setting off on the journey.

    The version of events given by Abbas, her husband, and their one daughter who survived the trip, has been backed up by another Iraqi survivor. 

    At least 12 people are reported to have died when the boat, a 4.5 meter rubber dinghy, capsized in the Aegean Sea trying to reach the Greek coast. 

    Kurdi was driving the boat and "going crazy, like speed," Abbas told media in Australia, adding that after the boat capsized, when its passengers were in the water, Kurdi asked them not to identify him as the driver, saying "please don't give me away." 

    Palestinian girls put flowers on a sand sculpture by Indian artist Sudarsan Pattnaik depicting Syrian boy Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old boy who drowned off Turkey, on September 7, 2015, on Gaza city beach.
    © AFP 2019 / Mohammed Abed
    Palestinian girls put flowers on a sand sculpture by Indian artist Sudarsan Pattnaik depicting Syrian boy Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old boy who drowned off Turkey, on September 7, 2015, on Gaza city beach.
    Abdullah Kurdi, responding to the allegations in the British press, denied the claims.

    "This is not true. If I was a people smuggler, why would I put my family in the same boat as the other people? I paid the same amount to the people smugglers," said Kurdi. 

    The image of Aylan Kurdi's dead body being carried ashore in Greece brought worldwide attention to the plight of refugees. His father Abdullah, who also lost his wife and five-year-old son Galip in the tragedy, has since returned to the family's home in Kobane, Syria.

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    Tags:
    migration, migrants, people smuggling, smuggling, Greece, Turkey, Iraq, Syria
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