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Father Of Drowned 3-Year-Old Syrian Delivers Christmas Message

Abdullah Kurdi, father of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who drowned off Turkey, stands in front of his neighbor's house on Sept. 6 in Kobani, Syria.

The photo of a 3-year-old child named Aylan Kurdi, face-down on a Turkish beach, has become emblematic of the suffering of refugees fleeing Syria's civil war.

Nearly four months later, Aylan's father Abdullah Kurdi delivered a Christmas message on U.K.'s Channel 4, calling for "the whole world to open its doors to Syrians."

Channel 4 played the message in full on Christmas Day. Watch it here.

"If a person shuts the door in somebody's face, this is very difficult. When a door is opened, they no longer feel humiliated," says Kurdi, who lost another son and his wife the day his toddler died.

"We Syrians leave our country due to war; we are all afraid for our children, for our honor," he says. "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."

Kurdi, a barber from the Syrian city of Kobani, said the family had hoped to go to Germany or Sweden via Greece. They were only in the boat for four or five minutes before it capsized.

Abdullah Kurdi described their ordeal in September as he buried his family.

"I hope this people will be helped, that these massacres are stopped," Kurdi said. "We're human beings, just like Westerners."

NPR's Steve Inskeep spoke with Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, in September about what the disturbing photo tells us about policy toward refugees fleeing to Europe.

"We really need a wake-up call that children are dying, washing up dead on the beaches of Europe, because of our collective failure to provide them safe passage," Bouckaert said.

The International Organization for Migration says that in 2015 at least 3,695 migrants are dead or missing from attempts to cross the Mediterranean.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

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