A refugee rescue ship operating in the Mediterranean will be renamed Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose death focused global attention on the migration crisis, at a ceremony on Sunday.
Alan’s father and aunt will attend the event in Palma de Mallorca, in the Spanish Balearic Islands, organised by the German humanitarian organisation Sea-Eye, which says it has saved more than 14,000 from drowning in the Mediterranean.
“We are happy that a German rescue ship will carry the name of our boy. My boy on the beach must never be forgotten,” said Alan's father, Abdullah Kurdi, in a statement.
Our grief for the loss of my wife and sons is shared by many, by thousands of families who have so tragically lost sons and daughters this way.”
The photograph of Alan Kurdi’s dead body on a beach in September 2015 sparked a wave of outrage across Europe and led to demands that more should be done to protect those making the perilous journey from North Africa to Europe.
But the rise of anti-immigrant movements across Europe in response to the million arrivals in 2015 has seen governments seek to stem the numbers amid continuing rows over who should take those that do make it.
More than 10,000 people have died or are missing in the three years since Alan Kurdi’s death, according to UN figures. The Italian government has sought to stymie the work of NGO rescue ships and refused to allow them unload refugees plucked from the sea at its docks.