(Reuters) - The uncle of a drowned Syrian toddler whose body pictured on a Turkish beach three months ago prompted worldwide sympathy for the plight of the region’s refugees, arrived in Canada with his family on Monday.
CBC Television broadcast the arrival of Mohammad Kurdi, his wife and five children in Vancouver, where they had an emotional reunion with his sister Tima Kurdi. She lives in British Columbia and sponsored the family’s relocation to Canada.
The family chanted: “Thank you Canada” shortly after being reunited.
“I am happy, very happy,” Mohammad Kurdi told reporters at the city’s main airport.
The family came to prominence in September after a photograph of the tiny body of Alan Kurdi, face down in the surf of a Turkish beach, appeared in newspapers around the world. Alan was originally reported to be 3 years old, but some subsequent reports said he was 2.
The image brought international attention to the refugee crisis and sparked outrage at the perceived inaction of developed nations to deal with the issue.
The child’s brother and mother were among those who died when two boats capsized as they tried to cross the waters from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos. The children’s father, Abdullah, who is Mohammad Kurdi’s brother, survived.
Tima Kurdi said at the time she had tried to sponsor Mohammad to come to Canada but was not successful. She had hoped to sponsor Alan and his family next.
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government came under fire after it emerged the family had wanted to emigrate to Canada. The Conservatives lost the October election to Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, which pledged to swiftly bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees.
Tima Kurdi told reporters she was thankful to Trudeau “for opening the door” and showing other countries how do deal with the refugee crisis.
Earlier this month, Trudeau was in Toronto to greet the first planeload of Syrian refugees sponsored by the Canadian government.
Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson in Toronto; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Peter Cooney