Drowned Syrian Boy Buried as Europe Wrangles Over Refugees

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has proposed mandatory quotas for resettling 160,000 refugees across the EU

Published: 05th September 2015 12:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th September 2015 01:39 AM   |  A+A-

Syria_Migrant Boy

Paramilitary police officers investigate the scene before carrying the lifeless body of an unidentified migrant child, lifting it from the sea shore, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum, Turkey. |AP


TURKEY: The father of a Syrian toddler whose drowning shocked the world buried his family today in the war-torn town they originally fled, as divided European ministers scrambled to agree a response to the refugee crisis.

Hungarian authorities were locked in a stand-off with migrants who left Budapest's main train station on foot for Austria, while Britain said it would take thousands more Syrian refugees as the crisis mounted.

Pressure on EU leaders has intensified with the heartbreaking pictures of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi's body on a Turkish beach, after he drowned with his brother Ghaleb and mother Rihana while they tried to cross to Greece.

His father Abdullah Kurdi -- who has told how his sons "slipped through my hands" when their boat sank in the Aegean Sea -- returned home to the Syrian border town of Kobane to lay them to rest. "I will have to pay the price for this the rest of my life," the devastated father told mourners, after carrying his sons' bodies himself to be buried in Kobane's Martyrs' Cemetery, where around 100 people attended the ceremony.

The family were driven out of Kobane in June following fierce fighting between Kurdish militants and Islamic State militants, and Kurdi called for a "solution to the tragedies" gripping his country. Tensions are mounting over Europe's failure to cope with the worst refugee crisis since World War II, during which more than 350,00 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea, and around 2,600 have died.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned that the EU faced a "defining moment" after little Aylan's death and called for the mandatory resettlement of 200,000 refugees by EU states.

EU foreign ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss the crisis, which has split the bloc between countries like Germany urging more solidarity and mainly eastern nations such as Hungary that take a hardline approach.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier -- whose country is taking in 800,000 asylum seekers this year, far more than any other EU nation -- urged partners to "stop pointing the finger. Recriminations will not get this under control". Hungary's right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban had lashed out at Germany on Thursday for aggravating the flow of people through his country by saying it would not deport Syrian refugees.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has proposed mandatory quotas for resettling 160,000 refugees across the EU to take the pressure off overstretched Greece, Italy and Hungary.

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