British Columbia

Tima Kurdi, aunt of drowned Syrian boy, pleads for help for refugees

The grieving aunt of the three-year-old Syrian boy found washed up on a Turkish beach is in Brussels today appealing for more help for Syrian refugees, as European Union ministers are meeting in the city to discuss the crisis.

Photos of body of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi sparked world outcry

Tima Kurdi urges people to open their hearts 1:48

The grieving aunt of the three-year-old Syrian boy found washed up on a Turkish beach is in Brussels today appealing for more help for Syrian refugees, as European Union ministers are meeting in the city to discuss the crisis.

Tima Kurdi, a B.C. resident, spoke in front of a wall that now includes a painting of her dead nephew, telling reporters that Europe must not slam the door on desperate refugees.

She said while it's too late for her family, there's still time to help others who are in the same desperate position and that is why she is urging leaders in Brussels to do more to help the thousands of refugees fleeing Syria.

"We need action, we need to come up with a plan," Kurdi told CBC News from Brussels.

"Find a solution and make it happen. People should open their heart and help those refugees … They are desperate …They didn't flee their country because they wanted to flee. They have been forced to flee."

Photos of Alan Kurdi's's body, lying face down on the beach, sparked global outrage about the Syrian crisis earlier this month. In all, 12 people died when the boat the three-year-old and his family were aboard flipped while attempting to reach Greece earlier this month.

Alan's mother and brother were among those who died.

Tima Kurdi said that in her heart, she feels Alan's death was a message from God to wake up the world, and instead of higher fences, countries need to build longer tables.

"I hope today the European politicians and the whole world will come up with something to deal with this, to end the war so no more people will flee their country anymore," she said.

While European ministers are discussing a quota system to share the burden of accommodating the tens of thousands of people crossing their borders, some European countries overwhelmed by refugees have already announced plans to tighten border controls, with Austria and Hungary promising to close their borders to refugees Monday night.

With files from The Canadian Press and Associated Press

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