TORONTO — The uncle of the three−year−old Syrian boy whose lifeless body has put a devastating human face on the Syrian refugee crisis has assailed Canada’s refugee process.
Rocco Logozzo told The Canadian Press that the system doesn’t work, adding his family had money and plenty of room to house little Aylan Kurdi and his brother and parents at his home in Coquitlam, B.C.
Instead, the family and a B.C. politician says Canada rejected their refugee application in June. It wasn’t immediately clear why they were turned down.
"The whole thing was designed to fail ... when they heard [the refugee application] failed, they lost all hope, and in a desperate situation, you make all these wrong decisions," Logozzo said as he explained why his relatives opted to get on a boat in coastal Turkey, on the Aegean Sea, to try to get to Europe.
Logozzo said he and wife, Teema Kurdi, have been grieving since hearing the news that their nephews — Aylan and his five−year−old brother, Galip — and their mother, Rehand, died as they tried to reach their destination.
They were among at least 12 migrants, including five children, who drowned Wednesday when two boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized.
Logozzo said the boys’ father, Abdullah, who is Teema Kurdi’s brother, survived after their speed boat was struck by a large wave. He said Abdullah told his sister that he put lifejackets on both boys, but they somehow slipped off when the boat flipped over.
Teema Kurdi was too heartbroken to talk at length on Thursday.
"I’m not feeling well," she said through sobs. "I can’t talk."
Fin Donnelly, who is running for re−election in Port Moody−Coquitlam, has been working with Logozza and his wife to try to to sponsor their relatives.
The NDP politician said he delivered a letter on behalf of Kurdi to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander in March, but the sponsorship request was not approved.
Alexander said in a statement that he was "deeply saddened" by the image of the drowned boy.
"The tragic photo of young Aylan Kurdi and the news of the death of his brother and mother broke hearts around the world," Alexander said. "I am meeting with officials to ascertain both the facts of the case of the Kurdi family and to receive an update on the migrant crisis."
He added Prime Minister Stephen 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," Alexander said.
About 250,000 people have been killed and more than one million wounded in Syria since March 2011, according to United Nations officials. More than half the country’s population has been displaced, including more than four million who have fled Syria.
The route between the Turkish community of Bodrum and Kos, just a few kilometres, is one of the shortest from Turkey to the Greek islands, but remains dangerous. Hundreds of migrants a day attempt the perilous sea crossing despite the risks.
A UN panel reported Thursday that more than 2,000 Syrians have drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe since 2011 and said there’s no end in sight to Syria’s civil war. In its 10th such report since the war began 4−1/2 years ago, the UN Human Rights Council urges the international community to help Syrian civilians.