Relatives of drowned Syrian toddler receive warm welcome in Canada

Vancouver: Four months after images of his lifeless body on a Turkish beach sparked outrage around the world, Alan Kurdi’s relatives have arrived in Canada, ready to start a new life and determined the child’s death not be in vain.

The three-year-old’s uncle, Mohammed Kurdi, his wife, and their five children arrived at the airport in Vancouver. They landed shortly before noon where they are being greeted by his sister, Tima Kurdi, a Canadian who is sponsoring the family.

Also on hand to welcome the family were schoolchildren holding signs that read ‘Welcome to Canada’.

Tima Kurdi told CTV news channel that while the tragedy involving her nephew has been painful for the entire family, she hoped it served as a reminder to the world of the plight of refugees fleeing violence.

“Even though the tragedy was very painful for us, it’s opened the doors for others – that’s what counts,” she said. “I hope his death won’t be in vain.”

The three-year-old boy drowned in September along with his older brother and their mother while attempting to cross the waters between Turkey and Greece.

Images of his lifeless body, face-down in the sand, sparked outcry and led millions around the world to demand countries provide Alan Kurdi’s father, Abdullah Kurdi, said he had attempted the dangerous water crossing after the Canadian government rejected his brother Mohammed’s original refugee application. Canadian officials said the application did not have the required documentation.

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Citizenship and Immigration Canada later asked Tima Kurdi to re-apply for her brother and his family in mid-October.

Ms Kurdi told the BBC she was unable to look at the photograph of the child that generated such outcry. She said, however, that she understood the power of the image and its impact on pressuring politicians to act.

Hundreds of asylum seekers have died this year trying to reach Europe by sea. Greece and Turkey have become a major transit points.

The admittance of refugees from war-torn nations including Syria has become highly contentious in governments around the world, with leaders attempting to balance security and humanitarian concerns.

In Canada, the newly-elected Liberal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on the promise to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February.

The government, which came to power in early November, said that 10,000 of the refugees would arrive by the end of the year.
Last week, the government said the country’s resettlement programme would be expanded in 2016 to take 50,000.

We have enough room, and I did my best, me and my husband and my son. We made it nice and comfy,” she said.

Her other brother and Alan Kurdi’s father, Abdullah Kurdi, declined to come to Canada and now lives in Kurdistan.

Ms Kurdi said that after losing his wife and children, Alan’s father had devoted his life to helping other refugees.

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