POLITICS

Tima Kurdi, Drowned Syrian Boy's Aunt, Hopes Trudeau Will Intervene In Brother's Case

10/22/2015 07:23 EDT | Updated 10/22/2015 08:59 EDT

VANCOUVER — The aunt of a young Syrian boy whose lifeless body was photographed on a Mediterranean beach says Canadian government officials have invited her to make another refugee application for one of her brothers and his family.

Tima Kurdi's application to bring her brother Mohammed Kurdi and his family to Canada was rejected because it didn't have the necessary paperwork.

Kurdi said an official with Citizenship and Immigration Canada contacted her last week and asked that she reapply for Mohammed.

The government is no longer asking for the difficult-to-obtain United Nations documents needed to satisfy requirements to qualify as a refugee, she said.

But Kurdi said the policy change comes too late to save the wife and two children of her other brother, Abdullah Kurdi. The trio drowned while making the treacherous water crossing from Turkey to Greece.

"Still we are hurt with the tragedy and the guilt about (how) we couldn't save this family," Kurdi said Thursday.

"It's nice to bring some of my family here with me, but it's still going to be forever and ever that spot in our hearts that's really burning."

Abdullah reportedly paid smugglers about $5,800 for the deadly voyage - money his sister sent him from Canada.

The heart-wrenching image of Abdullah's dead son, Alan, focused global attention on the refugee crisis and became a heated topic of debate during the federal election campaign.

A picture of the toddler lying face down in the surf, wearing blue shorts and a bright red T-shirt, prompted an international outcry in early September.

It also prompted Canada's opposition parties to pressure Prime Minister Stephen Harper to expedite the country's refugee-resettlement process.

During the election campaign, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Canada should take in 25,000 Syrian refugees by year's end, a pledge Tima Kurdi hopes the incoming prime minister will honour.

She said she would also like to Trudeau to assist in allowing Abdullah to come to Canada.

"I think Abdullah is a special case and he needs help." she said.

Reports from the UN Refugee Agency estimate that 650,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, with more than 3,000 of them either dead or missing. The majority of the asylum seekers are from Syria.

Kurdi said she returned last week from a trip to the Middle East where she visited Abdullah, who is staying in Erbil, Iraq.

She said her brother is warming up to the possibility of coming to Canada, which he rejected in the immediate aftermath of his family's deaths.

Kurdi said her brother plans to open a charity under his sons' names to help other refugee children.

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