Final moments of boy, 14, who drowned trying to cross the Channel

Obada died alongside his brother Ayser off the coast of northern France (Picture: BBC)

The family of a teenage boy who died along with his brother while trying to cross the English Channel say they regret encouraging him to make the journey.

Obada Abd Rabbo, from Syria, was only 14 when he drowned a few metres from the shore off the coast of northern France earlier this month.

His brother Ayser also died as the pair tried to make the trip to the UK in a small boat on Sunday January 14.

Their family said Obada had shared his worries with them before starting the journey, saying he couldn’t swim and felt anxious about making the crossing.

More than 60 people rushed into the sea trying to get on the inflatable boat but they were soon faced with a steep drop under the water.

Obada quickly found himself out of his depth and began screaming for help.

The two brothers were among the five people who died trying to cross the Channel that day.

Obada’s brother Nada, who successfully crossed the Channel in 2022, told the BBC he felt guilty about encouraging his young brother to attempt the trip.

The beach of Wimereux, northern France, near where Obada and his fellow passengers died (Picture: Bernard Barron/AFP via Getty Images)

It is understood that Obada’s mother and father, Abu and Um Ayesar had planned to make the journey to the UK as well.

Mr Ayesar had health problems and may have been hoping to get treatment in the UK.

Nada had been a law student at Damascus University but had decided to travel to England to avoid the conflict in Syria and to avoid being conscripted into the army.

He told the BBC: ‘It was not safe. You go to the army and stay 10 years. You need to kill, or you die. We don’t want this.’

He said he told his brothers back home in Daraa, a city near the Syrian border with Jordan, that they could ‘make a new life here’ if they joined him in the UK and could become students because ‘you’re young’.

A Border Force vessel brought people over to Dover in Kent following the incident (Picture: PA)

Obada had been at school in Syria and his brothers, who believed he was ‘very clever’, had hoped he might become a doctor one day.

The 14-year-old was also a massive football fan and had spoken to his brothers about his dreams of watching Manchester City play in England.

Obada was only 13 when he got on a plane with Ayser in Damascus in May last year.

The brothers flew from Syria to Libya to start their journey.

Both were keen to get to the UK, but may not have been completely aware of the risks involved, according to the BBC.

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In October last year Obada and Ayser had tried to cross the Mediterranean in a smuggler’s boat but they were caught and detained in Tunisia then sent back to Libya.

The brothers attempted it again in December but were rescued by a coastguard and taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

From there they were taken to mainland Italy where then they boarded a train to Paris.

Obada’s parents, who are still in Daraa, sent the BBC a heartbreaking video requesting to see their children ‘for the very last time’.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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