Drowned Aylan’s aunt urges EU to ‘open heart’

Published September 15, 2015
Brussels: Canadian Tima Kurdi, the aunt of three-year-old Syrian refugee boy Aylan Kurdi who died earlier this month trying to reach Greece from Turkey, reacts in front of a painting depicting the drowned Syrian child during a demonstration on Monday.—Reuters
Brussels: Canadian Tima Kurdi, the aunt of three-year-old Syrian refugee boy Aylan Kurdi who died earlier this month trying to reach Greece from Turkey, reacts in front of a painting depicting the drowned Syrian child during a demonstration on Monday.—Reuters

BRUSSELS: The aunt of three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi whose drowning off Turkey shocked the world visited Brussels on Monday and tearfully urged the EU to adopt an emergency plan to redistribute refugees.

“Open your heart and take action and come up with a shared plan — that’s why I’m here, to honour my brother’s family,” Teema Kurdi told a press conference outside European Union headquarters in Brussels.

“It’s too late for Aylan and Ghalib and Rihana, but it’s not too late for thousands of children and their families who risk everything trying to reach safe haven,” said Teema, who flew in from her home in Canada.

Teema’s brother Abdullah Kurdi buried his three year-old son Aylan, and his other young son Ghaleb and his wife Rihana in the Syrian flashpoint town of Kobane on Sept 4 after their flight to Europe on a boat ended in tragedy.

Teema Kurdi spoke with Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s foreign minister, before he chairs an emergency EU meeting later on Monday on a plan to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece, Hungary and Italy.

“Instead of putting up fences, I appeal to Europe and the world’s politicians to open their doors,” Kurdi added.

Her visit was organised by the campaign group Avaaz, which circulated a petition with one million signatures calling for action.

“Things are not looking great, but what seemed impossible two weeks ago, with the people coming together, with the catalyst effect of Aylan’s death, we already see change,” Avaaz campaign director Luis Morago said.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2015

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