HEADLINES

Canada: Aylan’s Aunt Pleads, Tell world to help refugees

By Peter Edwards, Robin Levinson King, September 03 2015. Toronto Star

sitting on Brothers Aylan and Ghalib Kurdi at home, before they were forced to flee Syria in fear for their lives.

“Now the whole world is going to watch my story. Where was all the world before when my kids were hungry? When I didn’t have a job?” said Tima Kurdi.

The aunt of two drowned Syrian boys recalled her brother’s harrowing battle to save his sons at two emotional press conferences in Coquitlam, B.C. Thursday, and said the tragedy would help wake people up and pay attention to the migrant crisis.“Now the whole world is going to watch my story. Where was all the world before when my kids were hungry? When I didn’t have a job?” said Tima Kurdi.“I want to tell the rest of the world, at this point, to step in and help the refugees.”

Abdullah Kurdi with his sons

Abdullah Kurdi with his sons Aylan (left) and Ghalib. (Photo: Courtesy Abdullah Kurdi Facebook)

Kurdi said her brother Abdullah described to her the horror of the boys dying in his arms and screamed: “Please don’t die!” at their lifeless bodies.“He said he tried with all his power,” she said.When Abdullah realized that his five-year-old son Ghalib was dead in his left arm, he turned his attention to his three-year-old son, Alan, she said.“Slowly he let him (Ghalib) go and he said I will try to save the second one, Alan,” he said.When he realized Alan was also dead, he tried to save his wife, also with no success, she said.

“He said, ‘I tried with all my power to save them, I didn’t,’” she said.

A photograph of Alan’s tiny body in a bright red T-shirt and shorts, face-down in the surf, appeared in newspapers around the world, prompting sympathy and outrage at the perceived inaction of developed nations in helping refugees.

Alan’s 5-year-old brother Ghalib and mother Rehan, 35, were among 12 people, including other children, who died after two boats capsized while trying to reach the Greek island of Kos.“The things that happened to us here, in the country where we took refuge to escape war in our homeland, we want the whole world to see this,” Abdullah told reporters.

Mohamad settled in Germany, and Abdullah wanted to follow with his own family. But Abdullah’s wife was scared of the perilous journey across the water to Greece, Kurdi said.“She said to me I really don’t want to go, I don’t know how to swim,” Kurdi said. “I said ‘just put your life jacket on, you’ll be fine.’”

Kurdi said she did all she could to help her brothers and their families, including wiring them $5,000 to help pay the smuggler for their escape.“I shouldn’t have sent the money,” she cried.

Tima Kurdi

Tima Kurdi at a press conferences in Coquitlam, B.C., Canada.

Kurdi said she moved to Canada in 1992 after marrying a Canadian and worked to bring family members to Canada and safety.Asked what should be done to prevent future tragedies, she said: “Stop the war.”She said Abdullah now wants to travel to their hometown of Kobani in Syria near the Turkish border to bury his boys.“He has to bury them in their own country,” she said.

The Kurdi family had made a privately-sponsored refugee application to the Canadian authorities that was rejected in June due to complications with applications from Turkey. Kurdi said the family had money and plenty of room to house little Aylan Kurdi and his brother and parents.“I wasn’t asking the Canadian government to drain the system, I can pay for everything,” she said.

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