Pope Francis has met with the father of a Alan Kurdi, a 3-year old Syrian boy who drowned crossing the Mediterranean Sea and whose image drew global attention to the plight of refugees fleeing to Europe.
Following a Mass on Sunday in the Iraqi city of Irbil, Francis met with Abdullah Kurdi and spent a long time with him, the Vatican said.
Through an interpreter, the pope listened to Kurdi’s story and expressed sympathy for the loss of his family. Abdullah thanked the pope for his words.
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The Kurdi family, who fail from Kobane in Syria, took the route of many Syrian and other migrants in 2015 by sea in a small boat from Turkey heading for Greece. When their boat capsized, Alan Kurdi, one of his brothers and his mother perished. The image of Alan's body, washed up on Turkish shores, came to symbolize the perilous journey to Europe and drew international condemnation.
The father now runs a charity in Irbil.
Pope Francis' historic visit to Iraq is aimed at rallying the country's long-beleaguered Christian community and promoting inter-religious tolerance.