German ship Alan Kurdi, renaming ceremony in Palma.

A German ship that rescues migrants in the Mediterranean has been renamed ‘Alan Kurdi’ to honour the young boy whose tragic death galvanized the world, highlighting the risks families were taking to reach Europe.

The ‘Professor Albrecht Penck’ ship was christened the ‘Alan Kurdi’ in a small ceremony in the port of Palma de Mallorca on Sunday.

Alan’s father Abdullah Kurdi and aunt Tima Kurdi attended the emotional ceremony.

“We are happy that a German rescue ship will carry the name of our boy. My boy on the beach must never be forgotten. 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,” said Abdullah Kurdi in comments published by the non-profit organization Sea Eye that operates the ship.

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Alan, his four-year-old brother Ghalib and mother Rehan, from Kobane, drowned in September 2015 trying to reach Greece from Turkey.

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The image of Alan’s little body on a Turkish beach shocked and saddened the world.

“The name ‘Alan Kurdi’ shall be a reminder of what our work is really about. It is not about ships, captains, NGOs, and clashes with misguided politicians. It is about actual persons, like Alan, Ghalib, and Rehana, who drown in the Mediterranean daily. And it is about the endless pain and grief their loved ones have to feel,” said Sea Eye spokesperson Carlotta Weibl.

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Sea Eye was founded in reaction to Alan’s death. Their ships, crewed by volunteers, have rescued more than 14,000 people since 2016.

European governments have tried to end the flow of migrants across the deadly waters to their shores. But people continue to take the risk. Just this month, another three Kurdish children died when their boat capsized in the waters between Turkey and Greece.


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