VANCOUVER — The family of two Syrian toddlers who drowned as they tried to reach Greece had not yet applied to enter Canada, the extended family said on Thursday, despite earlier reports that their refugee application had been rejected.
A photograph of Aylan Kurdi's tiny body in a bright red T-shirt and dark shorts, face-down in the surf, appeared in newspapers around the world, prompting sympathy and outrage at the perceived inaction of developed nations in helping refugees.
Aylan's 5-year-old brother, Galip, and mother, Rehan, 35, were among 12 people, including other children, who died after two boats capsized while trying to reach the Greek island of Kos.
"They didn't deserve to die, they didn't. They were going for a better life. That shouldn't have happened. It shouldn't have happened to them," the aunt of the drowned toddlers, Tima Kurdi, told reporters in Vancouver, breaking down in tears.
"To be honest I don't want to just blame the Canadian government. I'm blaming the whole world for this," she said.
The children's father, Abdullah, survived and collapsed in tears after emerging from a morgue in the city of Mugla near Bodrum, where he identified their bodies on Wednesday.
Abdullah's sister, Tima Kurdi, a resident of Vancouver, said she had tried to sponsor another brother to come to Canada, but the application had been rejected. She had hoped to sponsor Aylan and his family next.
Tima Kurdi said she had spoken to her bereaved brother on the phone, and that he wanted now to return to Syria to bury his wife and sons.
"When the two boys died in his hands, in his arms, he tried to save them," she said. "When the boat flipped upside down and the waves keep pushing him down, those two boys, they were in his arms. He said he tried all his power to (hold) them up."