Boys’ tragic deaths highlight the human costs of Canada’s inaction on Syrian refugees

Media Release

For immediate release
3 September 2015

Boys’ tragic deaths highlight the human costs of Canada’s inaction on Syrian refugees

In the wake of the tragic deaths of three-year-old Alan Kurdi and his five-year-old brother Ghalib, the Canadian Council for Refugees reiterates its call for Canada to open its doors to Syrian refugees. The boys died with their mother while trying to reach Europe after their application to resettle to Canada was refused.*

“These small boys could be alive today, if Canada had responded more appropriately to the Syrian refugee crisis,” said Loly Rico, CCR President. “We shouldn’t need to wait for a tragedy like this to realize we must open our doors. We call on an urgent basis for Syrians with family in Canada to be allowed to travel here immediately and complete processing in Canada where they can be safe. We don’t want to see any more children die in this way.”

The Canadian Council for Refugees calls for:

  • Flexible measures (such as Temporary Resident Permits) for Syrians with family in Canada. (Aylan and Galip had an aunt in Canada and likely would have been able to get a Turkish exit permit if they were leaving to reunite with family).
  • A commitment to a minimum of 10,000 government-assisted resettlement places for Syrians to be brought to Canada immediately, funded by the government and additional to Canada’s regular resettlement numbers (current Syrian announcements are within existing commitments so the numbers simply displace other refugees). Refugees should be selected solely based on need.
  • Elimination of barriers to the private sponsorship of refugees, including restoration of full Interim Federal Health coverage and lifting of the document requirements for Group of Five sponsorships.
  • Priority to be maintained for resettlement of other refugees (currently Syrian refugee applications are expedited at the expense of processing for other refugees).

In past refugee crises Canada has responded quickly and decisively. In 1999 Canada took extraordinary measures to evacuate thousands of Kosovar refugees. The same level of commitment is needed now.



* NOTE - the application that was rejected was not Alan's family, as originally thought, but an application for Alan's uncle and family. However, the news of the refusal of that application must have been received as a sign that Alan's family had no chance either.


More from CCR on Syrian refugees

More on barriers to private sponsorship of refugees


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Janet Dench, 514-277-7223 (ext. 2)