Bittersweet Reunion

Refugee crisis


In September the world's eyes were opened to the scale and seriousness of the Syrian refugee crisis by the image of a drowned 3-year-old boy. Alan Kurdi and his family were fleeing the war-torn country when their small boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea en route to the Greek island of Kos. His brother and mother also died in the crossing, leaving his father Abdullah as the only member of the family to survive. But it was a photograph of Alan—tiny, lifeless, face down after washing up on a Turkish beach—that spread across the Internet.

The Kurdi family's goal was to make it to Canada, where Alan's aunt Tima Kurdi resides. But after losing his wife and sons, Abdullah said in press reports his only wish was to return their bodies to their hometown of Kobani and "be buried alongside them." He's now living in Iraq's Kurdistan region, according to the CBC, having declined an invitation to resettle in Canada. Abdullah's brother Mohammad, his wife, and their five children did safely make the journey to Vancouver.

More than 4 million refugees are estimated to have fled the violence in Syria, mostly to Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. The governments of Western countries are divided about how much resettlement to allow within their borders. Shortly after Alan's body was discovered and photographed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced an open-door-style policy. But after Islamic terrorists attacked Paris in November, some leaders called for stemming the flow. In the U.S., GOP frontrunner Donald Trump said all Muslim immigrants should be turned away indefinitely.