Canadian government under fire in case of drowned Syrian toddler

Thu Sep 3, 2015 6:57pm EDT
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By Julie Gordon

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada's Conservative government came under fire on Thursday after it emerged that the family of a Syrian toddler whose body washed up on a Turkish beach had wanted to emigrate to Canada, rattling Prime Minister Stephen Harper's re-election bid.

A photograph of the body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi face down in the sand at the Aegean resort of Bodrum swept social media and appeared prominently on front pages, spawning sympathy and outrage at the perceived inaction of developed nations in helping refugees.

Kurdi, his elder brother and mother all drowned. Their father Abdullah survived.

The boy's aunt, Vancouver resident Tima Kurdi, said she had hoped to bring Abdullah and his family to Canada, but had first tried to sponsor another brother, currently in Germany, an application that was rejected.

Kurdi, breaking down repeatedly during an emotional news conference, said her brother told her how his sons and wife had perished in the choppy waters and revealed she had sent money to help the family leave Turkey.

"I told him 'I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have sent you the money to go. If I hadn't sent you the money you wouldn't have left'," she said.

She also said she did not want to "just blame the Canadian government. I'm blaming the whole world for this."

Canada's Department of Citizenship and Immigration said the application of the first brother had been returned because it was "incomplete" and that there was no record of an application from Aylan's family.   Continued...

Tima Kurdi, sister of Syrian refugee Abdullah Kurdi whose sons Aylan and Galip and wife Rehan were among 12 people who drowned in Turkey trying to reach Greece, cries while speaking to the media outside her home in Coquitlam, British Columbia September 3, 2015. REUTERS/Ben Nelms