Four months after his son’s body washed up on a beach in Turkey, sparking a global change in tone about the Syrian refugee crisis, Abdullah Kurdi has released an emotional statement on a British television news channel.
“My message is I’d like the whole world to open its doors to Syrians,” he says in the Channel 4 video. “At this time of year I would like to ask you all to think about the pain of fathers, mothers and children who are seeking peace and security. We ask just for a little bit of sympathy from you.”
Kurdi’s three year-old son, his five year-old son, and his wife all drowned on Sept. 2, during the family’s attempted boat crossing from Turkey to Greece. A day later, the body of three year-old Alan (which has also been spelled “Aylan”), was photographed on the shores of Bodrum, Turkey—face down, the tide lapping at his brow.
The Kurdis had fled to Turkey from Syria, and reportedly applied for asylum in Canada, where Abdullah’s sister lives, before attempting to the fatal boat trip.
Abdullah Kurdi now lives alone in Erbil, Iraq. According to Channel 4, he plans to start a charity hospital and school for Syrian Kurds.
Channel 4 selected Kurdi to deliver this year’s “Alternative Christmas Message,” an annual television spot the channel has produced for more than 20 years. It airs on Christmas day at 3:35 pm in the UK. Other notable people who have delivered the message include Edward Snowden, Quentin Crisp, and the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.