On his last day in Iraq, Pope Francis held a surprise meeting with Abdullah Kurdi, the father of a young refugee child who captured the world’s imagination when his lifeless body washed up on the shores of Turkey nearly six years ago.
The photos released by the Vatican Media show Pope Francis meeting Abdullah Kurdi the father of little Alan, who was shipwrecked with his brother and mother on the Turkish coast in September 2015 while he was trying to reach Europe with his family.
The meeting took place at the end of a Mass in the Erbil Stadium, in Ebril, Iraq.
The Pope spent a long time with him and with the help of the interpreter he was able to listen to this father’s pain for the loss of his family. Abdullah expressed his gratitude to the Pope for his words of closeness to his tragedy and to that of all those migrants who seek understanding, peace and security, leaving their country at the risk of their lives.
In a brief statement after the March 7 encounter, the Vatican said the pope “spent a long time” with Kurdi, and with the help of an interpreter “was able to listen to the pain of the father for the loss of his family and to express his profound participation and that of the Lord in the suffering of this man.
CRUXNOW reports that originally from Syria, Kurdi, his wife Rehanna, and his two young sons Ghalib and Alan had fled their country due to the ongoing civil war and were living in Turkey as refugees.
In September 2015, when ISIS was still at large and the global migration crisis was at its peak, the family with the help of Kurdi’s sister decided to pay for a boat ride across the Aegean Sea along with several other families and individuals in an attempt to reach Europe. However, the voyage turned deadly when the boat capsized and Kurdi was unable to hold onto his wife and sons, aged four and two, all of whom perished. Kurdi himself was one of just four survivors.
EPA-EFE/VATICAN MEDIA /CRUX Now