UK

Aylan Kurdi Story Moves Thousands To Pay For Boats To Rescue Drowning Refugees

15/01/2016 21:04 GMT | Updated 15/01/2016 21:59 GMT
Santi Palacios/AP
A man carries a child as they try to reach a shore after falling into the sea while disembarking from a dinghy on which they crossed a part of the Aegean sea with other refugees and migrants, from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos, on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. More than a million people reached Europe in 2015 in the continent's largest refugee influx since the end of World War II. Nearly 3,800 people are estimated to have drowned in the Mediterranean last year, making the journey to Greece or Italy in unseaworthy vessels packed far beyond capacity. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

Thousands of people who donated money in memory of the drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi have raised enough to buy boats that will rescue other refugees crossing the Aegean Sea.

Over €2 million was raised in the days after pictures of Kurdi's body washed up on a Turkish beach surfaced, described by charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) as a "tidal wave of support".

That money has now bought two ships being used to patrol the waters between Greece and Turkey, rescuing desperate migrants who's vessels become punctured or destroyed in the harsh oceanic conditions. On Thursday, three children perished attempting to journey between the two countries.

"We felt morally obliged to do something in the Aegean so shifted focus momentarily from the central Mediterranean to the Aegean because this is where we need to be," MOAS director Martin Xuereb said of the move.

aegean

Migrants disembark a boat after crossing the Aegean

"We felt compelled after the deaths of Aylan and Galip Kurdi”.

He told Sky News: "The boat is totally privately funded and receives funds from all over the world - from people inspired by what we do and people who don't feel indifferent by what is happening."

Its two launches were named after Aylan, 3, and his brother Galip, 5.

Their purchase of a new 'fast response daughter craft' means smaller boats can be quickly deployed from the mothership 'Responder' to assist migrant boats in need of help.

While the slew of people attempting to reach Europe from north Africa and the Middle East has stemmed, people trafficking remains a lucrative business and many have died in their pursuit of crossing the Aegean since January 1.

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MOAS has only been able to conduct missions in the Aegean since December 28, rescuing 59 people on its first outing in the European waters.

Two boatloads of refugees were helped, one after an engine failure, the second because it was overcrowded.

According to the Guardian, the charity has saved more than 12,000 people, mostly in the Mediterranean.