Family of Kurdish-Iranian boy who drowned in English Channel want to bring him home

Artin to be buried in Sardasht alongside his parents and two siblings

Artin died after the boat he was travelling in with members of his family sank in the English Channel. Reuters 
Artin died after the boat he was travelling in with members of his family sank in the English Channel. Reuters 

The family of a Kurdish-Iranian boy who drowned in the English Channel want his body to be returned to his home country.

Police in Norway on Monday said the identity of the child, 15-month-old Artin, was confirmed through his DNA profile.

Artin and four of his family members died when the boat in which they were travelling sank in the English Channel on October 27.

His body was found on Norway’s south-west coast near Karmoy on January 1, but his identity was only recently confirmed.

Artin’s family told Norwegian newspaper Aftenbladet that they wanted his remains to be buried in the Iranian city of Sardasht, near the border with Iraq.

The other members of Artin’s family who died - Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, 9, and Armin, 6 - were buried in Sardasht in November last year.

Artin’s uncle Khalil Iran Nezhad said the Iranian government covered those repatriation costs.

Norwegian media reported that the family had not yet closed the grave where the parents and siblings were buried.

"I'm both happy and sad," Nihayat, another of Artin’s relatives, told the BBC on Monday.

"Happy that Artin's remains were eventually found, and sad that he left us for good."

Camilla Tjelle Waage, head of police investigations in Norway, said the discovery of the body in Karmoy was highly unusual.

"We didn't have a missing baby reported in Norway and no family had contacted the police," she said.

The blue overall he was wearing was not a Norwegian brand, another indication that the baby was not from Norway, she said.

The discovery of Artin’s body comes amid rising concern over the number of dangerous Channel crossings being made.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the public was “fed up” and “demoralised” by the number of migrants crossing the Channel.

“The British public are fed up, they’re absolutely fed up and demoralised with what we have been seeing, and I’ve been very clear to my department - as I have been over the last 12 months - about operational activity from Border Force,” she told the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson phoned French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the issue.

A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Johnson “raised the need for redoubled efforts to deter migrants from attempting this perilous journey”.

Published: June 8, 2021 02:42 PM

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