Drowned Syrian boys' aunt wants to bring family to Canada

2015-09-06 08:49

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Coquitlam - The aunt of a drowned Syrian boy whose death has sparked global outrage about the plight of refugees in Europe says she hopes to bring the rest of her family to Canada.

Tima Kurdi said through tears outside her home in British Columbia that she plans to help her brother, Abdullah, and her other siblings immigrate to the country she made home more than two decades ago.

Abdullah isn't ready to leave his Syrian hometown of Kobani, where his sons, 3-year-old Aylan and 5-year-old Ghalib, and wife Rehanna were buried on Friday, she said. They drowned after piling into an overloaded boat in Turkey headed for the Greek island of Kos. Her brother was among the few survivors.

"I'm sure he (will) refuse and he doesn't want to leave Kobani," Kurdi said. "But one day, I will bring him here. He cannot be by himself there."

Family, friends and strangers on Saturday packed a small Vancouver theater filled with white balloons, roses and photos for a memorial service. The family planned to release balloons in the boys' memory on the waterfront.

Kurdi has said she wanted to bring both her brothers to Canada, but she applied first for her eldest sibling Mohammed, whose application was rejected because it was incomplete.

She said that Mohammed's failed application prompted Abdullah to embark on the risky journey with his family. She said she sent him $5 000 to pay smugglers to take them in a boat.

Asked whether her brother blames himself, Kurdi said no.

"I blame myself because my brother does not have money," she said. "I sent him the money to pay the smuggler."

She said the trip was the "only option" left for the family to have a better life in a European country. They were fleeing horrors in Syria, where militants from the Islamic State group had beheaded one of her sister-in-law's relatives.

Abdullah knew of the dangers, she said, adding he had planned to pay 2,000 each for him and his wife to board a safer jet boat, compared to 1 200 euros for a rubber boat. There was no fee for the two boys.

Photos of Aylan's lifeless body on a beach in Turkey have put Canada's refugee policy in the spotlight, though Kurdi said she doesn't blame the Canadian government.

Kurdi spoke to both her brothers by phone on Friday. Her grieving brother is proud of his kids for becoming a symbol of the dire situation facing Syrian refugees and hopes to see leaders step in to end human smuggling, she said.

"He said, 'I don't need anything from this world anymore. What I have is gone.' But my kids, and my wife, it's a wake-up call for the world. And hopefully they step in and help others."

Read more on:    canada  |  syria  |  migrants

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