Family of Drowned Syrian Boys Sought to Emigrate to Canada – New York Times
OTTAWA — A Canadian lawmaker and an aunt of Galip and Aylan Kurdi, the young refugee boys from Syria whose drownings off a Turkish beach have touched a global nerve, had sought to help their family emigrate to Canada this year, news outlets said Thursday.
The aunt, Teema Kurdi, who moved to Canada about 20 years ago and is the sister of the children’s father, Abdullah, told the Ottawa Citizen that she had applied for a visa that would have allowed the children and their parents to come as sponsored refugees.
“I was trying to sponsor them, and I have my friends and my neighbors who helped me with the bank deposits, but we couldn’t get them out, and that is why they went in the boat,” Ms. Kurdi, a hairdresser who lives in a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, told the newspaper. “I was even paying rent for them in Turkey, but it is horrible the way they treat Syrians there.”
Fin Donnelly, Ms. Kurdi’s local member of Parliament, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that after meeting with Ms. Kurdi in March, he hand delivered a letter to Chris Alexander, the Citizenship and Immigration minister, asking that the family be allowed entry to Canada as quickly as possible. Mr. Donnelly said that Ms. Kurdi was also attempting to sponsor another brother and his family.
“I delivered the letter to the minister and — nothing,” Mr. Donnelly, a member of the opposition New Democratic Party, said. “We waited and waited and we didn’t have any action.”
Photos of Aylan, 3, lying face down on a Turkish beach, were widely circulated on social media on Wednesday, escalating anger and frustration over the failures to help desperate families from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa fleeing war and mayhem. The body of Galip, 5, washed up nearby.
The Ottawa Citizen reported that the visa applications were rejected in June, apparently because the United Nations had not declared the families to be refugees and because the Turkish government had denied them exit visas.
Mr. Alexander announced on Thursday morning that he was suspending his campaign for re-election to Parliament and returning to Ottawa from his suburban Toronto constituency to deal with the family’s case.
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