A Syrian boy who was fleeing his war-torn country with his family was found dead on a Turkish beach this week after a boat carrying his family and other refugees capsized. The three-year-old, Aylin Kurdi, his five-year-old brother Gulip and their mother, Raham, all drowned. The family had applied to come to Canada as refugees but were rejected.
Relatives of the Kurdi’s in B.C. say they had been trying to bring the family of four to Canada as refugees for months, but their application to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration was rejected, according to reports from CBC.
“They did not deserve their fate and the government of Canada bears responsibility for their deaths,” the boys’ aunt, Fatima Kurdi told the news outlet.
Kurdi was working with federal NDP MP Fin Donnelly of the New Westminster-Coquitlam riding to help her family, but says efforts to reach out to Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, were ignored.
“It was terrible and obviously action was needed,” Donnelly told CBC. “That’s why I agreed to do what I could, including personally talking to the minister about her case.”
Minister Chris Alexander appeared defensive and antagonistic during an appearance on CBC’s Power & Politics broadcast on Wednesday, criticizing the media for not airing more coverage of the refugee crisis since it became an international problem in 2011.
He has now said he is suspending his re-election campaign in the Conservative race for Ajax, Ontario, in order to look further into the migrant crisis. In a statement issued Thursday, Alexander argued that Stephen Harper’s government has had one of the most generous per-capita immigration and refugee resettlement programs in the world.
“Prime Minister Harper has set a target for Canada to accept 23,000 Iraqi refugees and 11,300 Syrians. Of that number Canada has already resettled nearly 22,000 Iraqis and 2,300 Syrians,” the statement read.
But Canada is not the only nation under criticism now for not adequately responding to the Syrian refugee crisis, which some have called the worse migrant crisis since World War Two. Both Britain and the European Union are being faced with thousands of refugees, literally on their door steps.
Images of over 2,000 migrants packed into Budapest’s Keleti train station are being shared around the world Thursday morning. Thousands are hoping to land in Germany, however Hungary is not letting them board trains into the country. Prime Minister Viktor Orben says they are a “German problem” and that Europe has a “moral duty” to tell migrants not to come. Orben’s country was at the forefront of the Second World War refugee crisis when tens of thousands of Jews attempted to flea Europe to North American and Britain. An estimated 200,000 Hungarians also fled during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
But the Prime Minister’s opinion has not been popular with European Council President Donald Tusk who is calling for the 28 member nations of the European Union to accept a fair distribution of 100,000 refugees.
The United Nations reports that roughly 3,000 migrants per day are leaving the Middle East and Northern Africa and entering the Balkans in hopes of reaching Western Europe.
Over half a million migrants have sought asylum in Germany since 2011 and another half a million in France and Sweden combined.
Stephen Harper has committed to accepting 10,000 refugees from the Middle East over four years. Justin Trudeau, if elected, would increase that number to 20,000. Canada accepted over 13,600 refugee claims from around the world in 2014. There are currently over four million Syrian refugees in the world.
The Prime Minister has since cancelled his campaign appearance in Metro Vancouver on Thursday and will instead address the refugee crisis.
Vancity Buzz has decided not to publish the images of Aylin Kurdi deceased on the Turkish beach out of respect for his family.