Image of drowned boy moves people to action
The drowned boy who washed up on a Turkish beach on Wednesday, whose picture cut through the refugee debate in an instant, was three-year-old Alan Kurdi from Kobane in Syria.
Alan set out before dawn that morning in Turkey for the Greek island of Kos with his father Abdullah, mother Rehanna, and five-year-old brother Ghalib. The Kurdis wanted to reach Canada to reunite with Abdullah’s sister Tima, a hairdresser in Vancouver.
Tima Kurdi had sponsored a “G5” private asylum application for the family of her other brother, Mohammad. Financial constraints and the complexity of the process meant she had to tackle one family at a time – Mohammad was chosen first because he had school-age children. But the application was rejected by Canadian immigration authorities. Tima has been devastated and heartbroken by the tragic events of the past few days.
Alan Kurdi and members of his family were buried in Kobane in Syria yesterday (Sat 5th Sept) after being transported there from Turkey.
The picture of little Alan on Wednesday galvanized the anger and moved people who were previously too distracted to act. The tragedy now has a face and a name. Ordinary people are taking action.
The UK’s The Independent newspaper, which was one of the first to publish Aylan’s picture, ran a simultaneous campaign that gathered some 120,000 signatures and several important endorsements in the space of 24 hours.
In the same time span, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station — a search and rescue charity saving lives in the Mediterranean Sea — said it received more than 300,000 euros worth of donations and counting. Other NGOs also reported a surge of support.
In the UK, many families have come forward offering to accommodate those who have fled war-torn Syria.
Pope Francis appeal
The Pope said every Catholic parish in Europe should host a migrant family. Speaking during the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis appealed for “every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe” to take in a family.
Pope Francis has called on every European parish, religious community, monastery and sanctuary to take in one refugee family, as thousands of people from war-torn countries continued to stream into Germany via Austria.
The pope said on Sunday the Vatican would open its doors to two refugee families, but provided few details as he addressed tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.
Francis said it was not enough to say, “Have courage, hang in there”, to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are on the march toward what he called “life’s hope”.
He called on every Catholic parish, convent, monastery and sanctuary in Europe to shelter a family, and asked bishops throughout Europe to urge their dioceses to do the same.
His comments came after about 8,000 refugees arrived in Munich over the past two days, with a further 8,000 expected to arrive on Sunday.
In a statement today, Friends In The West founder, Ray Barnett, said He’s delighted that Pope Francis has made this call to the Catholic community in Europe, and he is urging all churches to work together and “do more” to bring relief to those who are suffering and to avoid further tragedies of the type we have seen in recent days. “Christians from every denomination should be at the forefront in bringing compassionate help to these refugees”, he said. And he is confident they will.