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The little Syrian boy who's become the face of Europe's migrant crisis

Aylan Kurdi was three years old when he lost his life crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe
The story behind the front page death of a Syrian boy 02:26

ISTANBUL -- The three-year-old Syrian boy whose lifeless body was photographed after washing ashore in Turkey now has a name.

A Turkish gendarmerie stands next to the body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi in Bodrum, Turkey, Sept. 2, 2015. REUTERS

Aylan Kurdi lost his life crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. His five-year-old brother Galip and their mother also drowned in a desperate attempt to find a better life.

Aylan Kurdi

Aylan's father Abdullah survived. Thursday, he collected the bodies of his wife and young sons from the morgue.

"The waves were so high, and the captain panicked and jumped into the sea," he said. "I took my wife and children in my arms, but they were all dead."

Abdullah Kurdi, father of three-year old Aylan Kurdi, cries as he leaves a morgue in Mugla, Turkey
Abdullah Kurdi, father of three-year old Aylan Kurdi, cries as he leaves a morgue in Mugla, Turkey, September 3, 2015. REUTERS

They fled the Syrian town of Kobani, which was decimated when ISIS tried to seize it earlier this year, leaving nearly everyone there homeless.

Migrants flood Budapest train station 07:29

Abdullah's sister, Tima Kurdi, who lives in Vancouver, said she gave the family money to pay a human smuggler.

"His wife told me on the phone a week ago, 'I'm so scared of the water. I don't know how to swim. [What] if something happens?'" she said.

Over 300,000 people have attempted the dangerous journey to Europe this year. More than 2,000 have paid with their lives -- including many other children whose names we don't know.

World watches as iconic Syrian migrant boy laid to rest 02:08

But it's the images of Aylan that have finally brought the tragedy home to people in Europe -- and pricked the conscience of European leaders.

Abdullah Kurdi will cross back into Syria on Friday to bury his wife and two young sons.

A friend of the family told CBS News the Kurdis paid about $4,000 to be smuggled into Europe -- but then did not have enough money to buy life jackets.

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