A photograph of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying lifeless on a beach in Turkey has been viewed millions of times around the world. His parents, Abdullah and Rehan, and brother Galib had decided upon a perilous journey from Turkey to a Greek island in the Mediterranean, Kos, after having been refused refugee status in Canada where Abdullah's sister lives. They joined a flotilla of dinghys and rubber rafts that had been arranged by smugglers who promised them passage to safety in Greek territory.
Abdullah Kurdi, center, is flanked by his sons Aylan on the left and Galib on the right
When a summer stormed came, the Kurdi family was thrown into the water and forced to swim. Their life jackets proved to be fakes. Abdullah said that he tried as hard as he could to save his wife and children, but they all eventually drowned in the waves. He had to release their bodies in order to save his own life.
Abdullah, a Syrian Kurd, who had fled the Muslim terror unleased by the Islamic State, plans to return to his homeland to bury his family. "I've lost everything," he said.
Photographs provided by Tima Kurdi, the dead boys' aunt who lives in Canada, show the smiling boys in happier times. She said that Aylan was always a "happy boy."
Four smugglers are now being investigated by Turkish authorities for their involvement in the incident.
Turkey has taken in more than 1 million refugees, as has Lebanon. However, other nearby Muslim countries have not been so generous. According to Amnesty International, the following countries in the region have taken in refugees:
Lebanon has 1.1 million refugees registered with UNHCR, which amounts to around 26 per cent of the country’s population
Jordan has 618,615 registered refugees, which amounts to 9.8 per cent of the population
Turkey has 1.6 million refugees, which amounts to 2.4 per cent of the population. The number of Syrian refugees sheltered by Turkey alone is more than 10 times the number of Syrian asylum applications received EU countries over the last three years.
Iraq has 225,373 registered refugees, which amounts to 0.67 per cent of the population
Egypt has 142,543 refugees, which amounts to 0.17 per cent of the population.
However, the six nearby oil-rich kingdoms of the Arabian Peninsula have barred refugees. The six Gulf countries - Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain - have taken in absolutely no Syrian refugees.
Other high income countries including Russia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea have also offered zero resettlement places. The United States currently takes in 70,000 refugees from around the world every year but resettling those from the Mideast has been difficult since 9/11. The International Committee of the Red Cross is urging the U.S. to take in more. Meanwhile the Anne Richard - Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration - expects that the U.S. will indeed take more in since the United Nations has referring more than 12,000 refugees for resettlement in the U.S.
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