Pope Francis has met the father of Alan Kurdi, a three-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 Mr Kurdi’s story and expressed sympathy for the loss of his family. He thanked the Pope for his words.
The Kurdi family, who hail 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, one of his brothers and his mother died.
The image of Alan’s body, washed up on Turkish shores, came to symbolise the perilous journey to Europe.
The father now runs a charity in Irbil.