A B.C. resident whose nephews drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after a boat loaded with Syrian refugees capsized is launching a campaign on the fifth anniversary of their deaths to help a German organization aiding refugee children.
The death of Tima Kurdi’s three-year-old nephew Alan Kurdi made international headlines after a photograph of his lifeless body on a Turkish beach was taken on Sept. 2, 2015. It shone a light on the plight of refugees displaced by civil war in Syria.
The bodies of his older brother, five-year-old Ghalib, and their mother Rehanna were found a few hundred metres away.
Sea-Eye, a German non-governmental humanitarian organization, has already named a refugee rescue boat Alan Kurdi and announced plans Tuesday at a news conference in Regensburg, Germany, to buy a second vessel to be named after Ghalib.
Tima Kurdi, who lives in Coquitlam, B.C., is in Germany for the launch of the campaign to raise funds to operate rescue boats.
She is also the author of a book about the tragic events called The Boy on the Beach. She says the situation for refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe has not improved since the death of her brother’s wife and his two children.
“It took us one image — the image of the boy on the beach, Alan Kurdi — to move us to be human. Five years later, today, people all over the world continue to suffer. And it’s getting worse, not any better. And they’re asking for help,” said Kurdi.
Of Syria’s 17 million people, 5.5 million are living as refugees within the region, mostly in Turkey, and a further six million are uprooted within their own country.
Sea-Eye says more than 20,000 refugees including young children have lost their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea and enter Europe.
Kurdi urged world leaders to act to help end the war in her home country of Syria.
“It’s the only way we can have a stronger voice and put a human life before money and politics. We can bring the world to peace again. It’s all up to us to end it. That’s why I will not, we will not, stop saving life at the sea and let even more people drown,” said Kurdi.