Editor’s note: Subsequent to the publication of this story, based on reporting by Reuters, the Government of Canada has denied it ever offered Mr. Abdullah Kurdi Canadian citizenship. CBC News has also issued the following correction:
A previous version of this story said the family of Alan Kurdi had applied for refugee status in Canada. In fact, no formal application for refugee status was made. An application on behalf of Alan’s uncle, Mohammed Kurdi, was received by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada but was returned because, the department said, it was incomplete and did not meet the regulatory requirements for proof of refugee status recognition.
See also: “No refugee application from father of drowned Syrian boys: government” (The Ottawa Citizen)
The father of a Syrian toddler whose body washed up on a Turkish beach says his boys “slipped away” from his hands after their rowboat capsized trying to reach the Greek island of Kos from Turkey with several other refugees.
The death of Aylan Kurdi, 3, who drowned along with his brother, Gulip, 5, and mother, Reham, has drawn worldwide attention to the Syrian refugee crisis and placed the Canadian government under fire after it emerged the family had been trying to come here as refugees.
The boys’ father, Abdullah Kurdi, also said today Canadian officials have now offered him citizenship after seeing what happened, but he has declined. […]
Kurdi’s sister, Fatima, immigrated to Canada several years ago and had been trying since at least March to help Aylan and his family get refugee status in Canada, according to relatives and NDP MP Fin Donnelly. […]
In an email to CBC News, she said the Canadian government had refused the family’s application for refugee status.
“They did not deserve their fate, and the government of Canada bears responsibility for their deaths,” said the grieving aunt.
Kurdi approached Donnelly in March for help with sponsoring her relatives as refugees, said the MP, who represents New Westminster-Coquitlam but is running in the Port Moody Coquitlam riding in the Oct. 19 federal election.
“She was very concerned, obviously, with what was going on in Syria and wanted to get her family out,” Donnelly told CBC on Wednesday.
Donnelly said after considering their options, they decided to write to the Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander directly — a letter that Donnelly said he delivered.
“[Alexander] promised that he would look into it, to me. I thought … he would actually do it,” said Donnelly.
“We did get some requests for detailed information about the family from his staff to mine … then nothing.”
Donnelly said Canada must do more to help and shelter Syrian refugees.
“”Obviously, this is devastating for the family,” he said.
“We need to address the situation. We need to look at how we can bring people into our country.”
According to a National Post report late Wednesday, the family had filed an application to be privately sponsored refugees, but it was rejected in June.
More than four million refugees have fled Syria since the civil war began in 2011. There are also more than seven million internally displaced people within Syria.
Alexander, who is running for the Conservative Party in the Ontario riding of Ajax, on Thursday announced he is interrupting his re-election campaign in order to address the refugee crisis.
In a statement announcing he is returning to Ottawa Thursday, Alexander said Canada has already resettled nearly 22,000 Iraqis and 2,300 Syrians and has set a target of accepting 23,000 Iraqi and 11,300 Syrian refugees.
An image of Abdullah Kurdi, and his sons Aylan and Galip, sent to me by a family friend. Heartbreaking. pic.twitter.com/5s7RuY41ZT
— Hussein Kesvani (@HKesvani) September 3, 2015