Man loses wife, two children in boat accident
The father of a three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach Wednesday whose image shocked the world said his children “slipped through my hands” as their boat was taking in water en route to Greece.
“I was holding my wife’s hand. But my children slipped through my hands. We tried to cling to the boat, but it was deflating. It was dark and everyone was screaming,” Abdullah Kurdi told Turkey’s Dogan news agency of the sinking that also killed his wife and 5-year old child.
Photographs of Kurdi’s 3-year old boy washed up dead on a Turkish beach made front pages around Europe on Thursday.
“The photograph is truly tragic. It is horrifying,” Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Thursday. “And it is a sign of something that is happening often. Many women and children have died in the Mediterranean” while trying to reach Europe by sea.
Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad is battling various armed groups including the jihadist movement Islamic State.
Rajoy has faced demands for Spain to host a greater number of refugees, but he did not shift his position on Thursday.
He has said Spain, home to nearly 47 million people, is willing to receive 2,739 registered asylum seekers in 2015. He has implied his country might agree to take more but that any future quotas should take into account the country’s high unemployment rate.
His political opponents in Spain ahead of December’s general election have criticised his government’s reaction to the migrant crisis.
The leader of the left-wing protest party Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, complained that Europe spent more on guarding its borders than on helping refugees.
“Europe has spent 1.208 billion euros on strengthening its borders and 700 million on helping refugees,” Iglesias told radio station Cadena Ser on Thursday.
“Perhaps if we reversed those figures, if instead of spending money on putting up walls and barbed wire we spent it on helping people, things would get better.”