Aylan, the toddler on the beach

Before crowds began protesting in the streets, bringing the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ to Syria, Open Doors had been working in the country for several years supporting the church. It is this work in the past that has given us the opportunity to remain on the ground and serving now.

Now we see Syria in the grips of a crisis. Two days ago a young boy of 3 drowned off the coast of Turkey. The boy’s name was Aylan and his image (caution: graphic image) has been seen on social media and the news by millions. Last night the boy’s father Abdullah spoke out about the situation in an interview with Reuters.

“I was holding my wife’s hand. My children slipped away from my hands. We tried to hold on to the boat,” he said in the statement, “Everyone was screaming in pitch darkness. I couldn’t make my voice heard to my wife and kids.”

Aylan Kurdi and his older brother, Galip. Photograph: Twitter

Aylan Kurdi and his older brother, Galip. Photograph: Twitter

Like 4 million other Syrians, this family fled Syria and the conflict that is now in its 5th year. While the number of people fleeing the country is huge, greater still is the number of those displaced inside the country, now numbering over 7 million.

Open Doors is committed to working in Syria through the local church, reaching out to the community. In the beginning, it was mainly the churches in Damascus and Aleppo that were confronted with an influx of people fleeing the violence from the city of Homs. Later, the conflict spread to a broader area of Syria and churches all over the country started to help the people in need.

With the thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), many of them Christians and some Muslims, Open Doors started a large relief campaign with local churches. Thousands of families were supported with food, hygiene packages, blankets, mattresses, cold-weather packages, medicine, and rent subsidies. In 2015, Open Doors supported more than 9,000 families each month through local churches of all denominations.

We are continuing the programs in place from before the conflict escalated, trauma counselling, training, the distribution of Bibles and other Christian literature. The need for this work is increasing. Many of the Christian IDPs fled their homes with only the clothes they were wearing, leaving their Bibles and all other things in their houses.

We have felt compelled to organise a day of prayer for Syria, if you would like to unite in prayer with believers around Australia, please register with us and go to the Facebook event to invite your friends.


  • Pray for Abudullah Kurdi, who regardless of his religion, has lost his 2 sons and wife and is suffering with this.
  • Pray for Syrian peoples fleeing the country, pray they would find safety and find shelter.
  • Pray for Syria, pray for a path to peace to become present and for an end to the violence.


You can help support Christians in Syria, and around the world, through giving to the ministry of Open Doors.


Follow our blog for the latest stories, Like us on Facebook for updates and subscribe to our Prayer Watch to pray with us.

3 thoughts on “Aylan, the toddler on the beach

    • Hi Anthony,
      Thank you so much for your support, and for your comment. One of the reasons for this blog post was to show that, yes, this families story has been in the media, but also to highlight the huge number of people who are displaced inside Syria. Open Doors is actively working through local churches and partners in Syria to reach out to those who are displaced inside Syria, including supporting over 9,000 families each month. We are also supporting refugees in neighbouring countries through local churches and partners with emergency relief.


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