The father of the three-year-old Syrian boy whose lifeless body washed up on a beach in Turkey—the powerful photo of which captured the human tragedy of the refugee crisis—will deliver a Christmas message in which he urges the world to have sympathy for those fleeing the ravages of war.
Abdullah Kurdi, who, in addition to losing three-year-old Alan, also lost his wife, Rehanna and five-year-old son Ghalib when the boat bound for Greece they were on capsized, will deliver the remarks in this year's alternative Christmas message on the UK's Channel 4. An excerpt of the message and transcript have already been released.
"We Syrians leave our country due to war. We all are afraid for our children, for our honor," Kurdi says.
"I want to help children because they know nothing about life except for laughing and playing. That’s all they know. So it's a problem for children if we don't look after them and take care of them."
"My message," Kurdi adds, "is I'd like the whole world to open its doors to Syrians.
"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."
He adds, "We ask just for a little bit of sympathy from you," and ends by saying, "Hopefully next year the war will end in Syria and peace will reign all over the world."
The war in Syrian has already uprooted more than 4 million people, and the International Organization for Migrations said this week that the number of fatalities of refugees or migrants just off Greece or Turkey this year has surpassed 700, including children and babies. In the latest such tragedy, at least 18 migrants drowned Thursday when their boat headed to the Greece sank.
António Guterres, outgoing head of the UN Refugee Agency, warned this week, "If the conflict does not end quickly, this might be the end of Syria as we know it."
Channel 4 has broadcast an annual alternative to the Queen's Christmas Day address to the UK since 1993. Last year's was given by British Ebola survivor William Pooley, who said, "Christmas should focus our minds on our kinship with people in all corners of the globe. We are all brothers and sisters. I'm sure we would all help a brother or sister in need."
The message in 2013 was given by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who said that "a child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all," and that the kinds of surveillance outlined in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four "are nothing compared to what we have available today."