Drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi’s extended family reaches Canada

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Tima Kurdi (L), embraces her nephew Chergo Kurdi as her nieces Haveen Kurdi (top R), and Ranim Kurdi rush towards her at Vancouver International airport in Vancouver, British Columbia, December 28, 2015. The Kurdis' brother, Abdullah and his family, tried to make the crossing from Turkey to Greece on an overcrowded boat. It capsized, and his wife and children drowned. The horrific image of three-year-old Alan's death became an iconic symbol of the plight of Syrian refugees and a major issue in the Canadian federal election. Reuters/Jimmy Jeong

Deceased Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi’s uncle, Mohammad Kurdi, has arrived in Canada with his wife and five children on Monday. The extended family of Alan reunited with his aunt, Tima Kurdi, in Vancouver upon arrival. 

Alan/Aylan Kurdi's lifeless body, discovered on a Turkish beach three months ago, became symbolic of the sufferings the Syrian asylum seekers had to undertake while trying to flee the years-long civil war in their homeland. The boy's death also ignited global outrage. 

Tima, who lives in British Columbia, has sponsored the family’s relocation to Canada. "I am happy, very happy," Mohammad was quoted telling reporters at the city’s main airport by the ABC. Mohammed’s brother Abdullah lost his wife and two children while trying to reach Greece from Turkey. 

“I’m happy of course that they are coming,” Tima told the Wall Street Journal on a telephone interview from her home near Vancouver shortly before the family’s arrival. “But at the same time, I feel that something’s always in my heart. I feel sorry for my brother Abdullah. I wish he and his family were coming on the same flight.”

She added that she bought mattresses and linens for her brother’s family and turned her husband’s office into a room to accommodate some of the children. Her husband will be going to work rather than working from home from now on.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to power promising to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of December, 2015, but the deadline has now been pushed to the end of February. However, according to government data, more than 2,000 refugees have arrived in Canada since Nov. 4. The Canadian government will be sponsoring the resettlement of around 15,000 refugees while groups of individual Canadians will sponsor the relocation of the rest.