Dad of drowned Syr­ian refugee boy shares tragic de­tails of los­ing fam­ily as they tried to reach Canada

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL -

The heart­bro­ken fa­ther of the lit­tle Syr­ian refugee whose drown­ing shocked the world de­scribed the hor­rific mo­ments when their over­loaded dinghy be­gan fill­ing with wa­ter and he lost his wife and sons to the cruel sea.

“My chil­dren slipped from my hands,” Ab­dul­lah Kurdi said in an in­ter­view with the Do­gan News Agency in Tur­key. “We tried to hold onto the boat but it de­flated rapidly. Ev­ery­one was scream­ing in pitch dark­ness. I couldn’t make my voice heard to my wife and kids.”

“I tried to swim to the beach by fol­low­ing the lights,” he said. “I looked for my wife and chil­dren on the beach but couldn’t find them.”

It wasn’t un­til the next day that 3-year-old Ay­lan Kurdi was found face down on a Turk­ish beach and photos of the dead child sparked fresh calls for ac­tion to deal with the worst hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Europe since World War II.

The bod­ies of his 5-yearold brother, Galip, and mother, Ri­han, 35, were found later.

Kurdi, an eth­nic Kurd from the city of Kobani, said he was hop­ing to get his fam­ily to Canada where his sis­ter lives in Van­cou­ver. He said the Turk­ish smug­gler they paid to ferry them to the Greek is­land of Kos got fright­ened when the seas got too rough and jumped ship rather than com­plete the trip. But Kurdi then gave a some­what dif­fer­ent ac­count to the As­so­ci­ated Press of what hap­pened next: “I took over and started steer­ing,” Kurdi said. “The waves were so high and the boat flipped. I took my wife and my kids in my arms and I re­al­ized they were all dead.”

Kurdi said he has given up on go­ing on to Canada. He told Canada’s Na­tional Post news­pa­per that he will now take his dead sons and wife back to Kobani to bury them.

The dis­traught dad’s sis­ter, Teema Kurdi, said she has been try­ing for years to get her fam­ily to Van­cou­ver, where she has lived for 20 years and works as a hair­styl­ist.

“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,” she told the Cana­dian press. “I was even pay­ing rent for them in Tur­key, but it is hor­ri­ble the way they treat Syr­i­ans there.”

Shocked by the plight of the Kurdi fam­ily, Canada’s immigration min­is­ter said he would in­ves­ti­gate why their pe­ti­tion to im­mi­grate was re­jected. He said they don’t have any record of Kurdi ap­ply­ing for asy­lum. “Like all Cana­di­ans, I was deeply sad­dened by that im­age,” said Chris Alexan­der who ad­vised that Canada is plan­ning to ac­cept 11,300 Syr­ian refugees and another 23,000 from Iraq.

Op­po­si­tion Lib­eral Leader Justin Trudeau said that’s too lit­tle and way too late. He also blasted Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper’s Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment for ig­nor­ing pleas to ac­cept more Syr­ian refugees.

“You don’t get to sud­denly dis­cover com­pas­sion in the mid­dle of an elec­tion cam­paign,” Trudeau said of Harper, who is run­ning for re­elec­tion. “You ei­ther have it or you don’t.”

Kobani, long rav­aged by Syria’s civil war, was be­sieged by blood­thirsty Is­lamic State mil­i­tants last year and mostly de­stroyed. The Turks barely lifted a fin­ger to help the Kurds. The Kurdi fam­ily was try­ing to join the thou­sands of des­per­ate Syr­ian cit­i­zens who have al­ready made the ex­o­dus to Greece and have been fan­ning through Europe seek­ing asy­lum from a war that has rav­aged their home­land. Some eleven mil­lion peo­ple - about half the pop­u­la­tion of Syria - have fled the coun­try since fight­ing erupted in 2011 and more than 200,000 are be­lieved dead.

Ab­dul­lah Kurdi, the Syr­ian refugee who sur­vived a shipwreck that killed his wife

and two small boys, said he plans to go home to bury his fam­ily.

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