Abdullah Kurdi, the father of the drowned Syrian boy whose body was photographed on a Turkish beach, will deliver Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas message.
In the address, which will be broadcast on Christmas Day at 3:35pm, Kurdi calls for empathy and understanding for those caught up in the current refugee crisis.
“My message is I’d like the whole world to open its doors to Syrians,” he will say. “If a person shuts a door in someone’s face, this is very difficult. When a door is opened they no longer feel humiliated.
“At this time of year I would like to ask you all to think about the pain of fathers, mothers and children who are seeking peace and security.
“We ask just for a little bit of sympathy from you.”
The images of Kurdi’s dead child Alan, which will be shown as part of the broadcast, shocked the world and came to symbolise the horror of the refugee crisis.
The waves of global sympathy kickstarted efforts among European leaders to do more to tackle the desperate situation facing many refugees.
Abdullah (below) lost his wife Rehanna and two sons: Alan, 3 and Galeb, 5, as they attempted to flee the war ravaging their Syrian homeland.
Kurdi’s speech will be accompanied with footage of the refugee crisis and the dangerous Mediterranean crossings from Libya to Italy and from Turkey to Greece.
Kurdi is a Kurdish Syrian who had been in Turkey for three years but returned to his homeplace of Kobani to bury his sons beside their mother. At the time of the funeral he said ‘’I have buried my soul along with my sons”.
He currently lives in Erbil, Iraq, and has plans to start a charity project running a hospital and school for Syian Kurds.
First airing in 1993, the Channel 4 Christmas message has cemented its place as the alternative to the Queen’s annual televised message to the nation.
Previous presenters have included the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whistleblower Edward Snowden, Afghan war veteran Major Andrew Stockton, Adam Hills, Katie Piper, Quentin Crisp, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, The Simpsons, and 9/11 survivor Genelle Guzman.
Last year’s message was delivered by William Pooley, the British nurse who survived Ebola.