Turkey on Wednesday marked five years to the day since the body of 3-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi washed ashore, making headlines worldwide and becoming a symbol of the refugee crisis from the war in Syria.
The toddler had been on board a boat carrying 14 irregular migrants, five of whom died when it sank.
At a memorial held at Fener Burnu Beach, where his body was found by locals on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast of Bodrum, musician Karsu Donmez said losing a child is the most painful thing for a parent to bear.
No one leaves their houses, families, work, or the place they were born for no reason, she added.
“They fled for a better life. They fled for their children, not for themselves.”
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, over 5 million civilians have become refugees.
Turkey hosts 3.6 million of them, more than any other country in the world.
‘Every child deserves luck’
“When I saw that photo [of Aylan Kurdi], I couldn’t pull myself for two or three days,” said Donmez.
Currently living in Amsterdam, Donmez said she helps refugee children at a train station.
“There, I also saw a boy who looked like Alan. I said ‘You are very lucky’. Unfortunately, Alan was not that lucky.
“Every child deserves luck. If Alan had lived, maybe he could have become a doctor one day, he could have saved your life.
“We didn’t just lose a little Syrian child, we lost a beautiful person in the world,” she added.
Donmez has also established a school for refugee children in Greece.
*Writing by Erdogan Cagatay Zontur
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