Aylan Kurdi's aunt still fighting for family to move to Canada as she blames herself for deaths

'If I didn't send him the smugglers' money, those people would still be alive'

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The Independent Online

The aunt of the Syrian boy who drowned trying to reach Europe with his family has said she will still fight to bring his relatives to safety in Canada.

Aylan Kurdi, three, died alongside his five-year-old brother Ghalib and their mother, Rehanna, after their overcrowded boat capsized as they attempted the perilous journey from Turkey to Greece over the Aegean Sea.

Tima Kurdi, the boy’s aunt, said that she still hopes her brother will emigrate to Canada, where she has lived for more than 20 years, after losing his wife and children.

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Aylan, pictured in this undated family photograph, drowned as his family attempted to reach Greek islands

But as Aylan was buried in his war-torn hometown of Kobani yesterday, Abdullah Kurdi told relatives he never wants to leave Syria again.

“He only wanted to go to Europe for the sake of his children,” said Suleiman Kurdi, an uncle of the grieving father. “Now that they're dead, he wants to stay here in Kobani next to them.”

Speaking to journalists outside her home in British Columbia, Ms Kurdi said: “We're all emotionally affected by what happened right now. I'm sure (Aylan’s father will) refuse and he doesn't want to leave Kobani.

“But one day, I will bring him here. He cannot be by himself there.”

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Abdullah Kurdi buried his wife and sons in Kobani on Friday

Kobani has been ravaged by the Syrian civil war, being besieged by Isis for several months last year, sparking bombing campaigns and street fighting that destroyed much of the city.

Ms Kurdi said Isis had beheaded one of Rehanna’s relatives during their siege, with her brother sending her a photo of the mutilated body.

She previously said she wanted to bring both her brothers to Canada after the violence broke out, but made the first refugee application for her eldest sibling Mohammed, which was rejected because it was incomplete.

She said that the failed application prompted her brother to embark on journey from Turkey, and that she sent him $5,000 (£3,300) smugglers demanded to take the family on the fatal voyage.

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Aylan Kurdi (left) and his older brother, Ghalib, died when their dinghy sank off the coast of Turkey

“I am the one who should be at blame,” Ms Kurdi told the Associated Press.

“I blame myself because my brother does not have money. I sent him the money to pay the smuggler. If I didn't send him the money, those people still (would be) alive.”

She said the trip was the “only option” left for the family to have a better life in a European country, possibly Germany or Sweden.

Photos of Aylan's body washed up on a beach in Turkey have put Canada's refugee policy in the spotlight, forcing the immigration minister to halt his election campaign, but Ms Kurdi said she does not blame the government. 

She hopes Citizenship and Immigration service stops requiring the document missing from Mohammed's application, which she said was almost impossible to secure in the chaos of Syria.

Kurdi spoke to both her brothers by phone on Friday and watched emotional footage of her two young nephews being buried in Kobani, wishing she could have been there to say goodbye.

“Abdullah said to me, 'I don't want you to come. It's dangerous,”' she said, crying. “I (could) stay there for the rest of my life, sitting beside their grave, feed them, give them water.”

A spokesperson for Canada’s Department of Citizenship and Immigration confirmed that an application for Mohammad Kurdi and his family was rejected in June.

The country has committed to resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees, housing more than 2,300 so far.

Images of Aylan’s body reignited anger over the deaths of thousands of desperate refugees trying to reach Europe around the world, sparking calls for increased efforts by EU governments to give them a home.

David Cameron has announced that Britain will take in “thousands more” Syrian refugees in response to a tide of public support.

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Additional reporting by AP

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