Drowned Syrian Toddler Had a Desperate Backstory

Aylan Kurdi, 3, and his family were en route to Canada from Syria
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2015 6:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – We now know the name of the drowned boy who has become a symbol of Europe's desperate migrant crisis. The National Post identifies the boy, whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach yesterday, as 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi of Syria. He perished when his small dingy, part of a flotilla bound for Greece, overturned after departing Akyarlar, reports the Guardian. His mother, Rehan, and 5-year-old brother, Galip, also died along with at least eight other refugees, while his father, Abdullah, survived. All were apparently trying to reach Canada, where the boy's aunt works as a hairdresser and was trying to help the family gain entry. A lawmaker working alongside her tells the Post that their deaths are "horrific and heartbreaking," adding, "the frustration of waiting and inaction has been terrible."

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Back in June, a refugee application for family members had been denied in Canada, likely because—as is the case with thousands—the UN refused to register them as refugees and Turkey won't hand over exit visas to any unregistered refugees without valid passports. "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," the aunt, Teema Kurdi of Vancouver, says. "I was even paying rent for them in Turkey, but it is horrible the way they treat Syrians there." Rather than continue en route to Canada, relatives say the boy's father will return to their hometown of Kobane—recently overrun by the Islamic State—to bury his wife and children and eventually be buried with them. (Read more Syria stories.)

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