Thursday, September 3, 2015

The father of Galip and Aylan Kurdi

ISTANBUL — The father of Galip and Aylan Kurdi, the young refugee boys from Syria whose drowning off a Turkish beach has touched a global nerve, said Thursday that his family had paid smugglers more than $2,000 for a voyage to a Greek island in a 15-foot boat that was quickly upended by five-foot waves. His wife also drowned.


“The waves were high, the boat started swaying and shaking. We were terrified,” said the father, Abdullah Kurdi, 40, a Syrian Kurd from the town of Kobani near the Turkish border. “I rushed to my kids and wife while the boat was flipping upside down. And in a second we were all drowning in the water.”
Mr. Kurdi, who said his family had long been seeking to emigrate to Canada, spoke in a telephone interview arranged by local officials from Turkey’s Mugla Province, where he was completing paperwork for the bodies of his wife, Rehan, 27; Galip, 5; and Aylan, 3; to be returned to Kobani for a funeral.


“The waves were high, the boat started swaying and shaking. We were terrified,” said the father, Abdullah Kurdi, 40, a Syrian Kurd from the town of Kobani near the Turkish border. “I rushed to my kids and wife while the boat was flipping upside down. And in a second we were all drowning in the water.”
Mr. Kurdi, who said his family had long been seeking to emigrate to Canada, spoke in a telephone interview arranged by local officials from Turkey’s Mugla Province, where he was completing paperwork for the bodies of his wife, Rehan, 27; Galip, 5; and Aylan, 3; to be returned to Kobani for a funeral.


“I started pushing them up to the surface so they could breathe,” he said. “I had to shift from one to another. I think we were in the water for three hours trying to survive.”
He watched helplessly as one exhausted child drowned, he said, then he pushed the other toward the mother, “so he could at least keep his head up.”




http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/04/world/europe/syria-boy-drowning.html?ref=middleeast

Syrian child who drowned trying to escape with his family






ANKARA (Reuters) - The family of a Syrian toddler whose body washed up on a Turkish beach had been trying to emigrate to Canada after fleeing the war-torn town of Kobani, one of their relatives told a Canadian newspaper on Thursday.
A photograph of the tiny body of a three-year old boy washed up in the Aegean resort of Bodrum appeared in newspapers around the world on Thursday, spawning sympathy and outrage at the perceived inaction of developed nations in helping refugees.
"He had a name: Alyan Kurdi. Urgent action required - A Europe-wide mobilization is urgent," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Twitter of the boy.
The boy's 5-year-old brother Galip and mother Rehan, 35, also died after their boat capsized while trying to reach the Greek island of Kos. His father, Abdullah, was found semi-conscious and taken to hospital near Bodrum, according to Turkey's Sabah newspaper.
"I heard the news at five o’clock this morning," Teema Kurdi, Abdullah’s sister and a resident of Vancouver, was quoted as saying by Canada's National Post newspaper. She had heard of the deaths from another of the boy's aunts.
"She had got a call from Abdullah, and all he said was, my wife and two boys are dead," Teema said.
The family were among at least 12 presumed Syrian refugees, other young children among them, who died trying to reach Kos after two boats, carrying a total of 23 people, set off from the Akyarlar area of the Bodrum peninsula, a naval official said.
Turkey migrant




APA paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of a migrant child after a number of migrants died and a smaller number were reported missing after boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015.Abdullah, his wife and two children had made a privately-sponsored refugee application to the Canadian authorities that was rejected in June because of complications with applications from Turkey, the National Post quoted Teema as saying.
"I was trying to sponsor them, and I have my friends and my neighbors who helped me with the bank deposits, but we couldn’t get them out, and that is why they went in the boat," she said.
"I was even paying rent for them in Turkey, but it is horrible the way they treat Syrians there."
Turkey has won international praise for taking in 2 million refugees since the Syrian civil war began in March 2011, spending $6 billion caring for them and receiving just $400 million in outside aid.
But it has warned it is reaching capacity, and thousands are now making the perilous journey by boat from Turkey to Greece in a bid to enter Europe.
Migrants from Syria walk along a road in the village of Miratovac near the town of Presevo, Serbia August 24, 2015. Long lines of migrants, many of them refugees from Syria, snaked through southern Serbia by foot on Monday before jumping on trains and buses north to Hungary and the last leg of an increasingly desperate journey to western Europe. REUTERS/Marko Djurica Thomson ReutersRefugees from Syria walk along a road in the village of Miratovac near the town of Presevo, SerbiaKobani has been the scene of intense fighting over the last year. In recent months Kurdish regional forces have been trying to repel attempts by Islamic State to recapture the town.
Tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing the war in their homeland have descended on Turkey's Aegean coast this summer to board boats to Greece.


http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-what-we-know-about-the-syrian-child-who-drowned-trying-to-escape-with-his-family-2015-9#ixzz3khHnPHfX



Death of 71 people locked in the truck on a highway south of Vienna

Investigators search traces at a truck that stands


Death and desperation mounted in Europe's migrant crisis Friday as Austrian police said 71 people appeared to have suffocated in the back of an abandoned truck, while an estimated 200 people were feared drowned off Libya when two overloaded boats capsized.
More than 300,000 people have sought to cross the Mediterranean Sea so far in 2015, up from 219,000 in all of last year, as European authorities grapple with the largest influx since World War II.
The death of 71 people locked in the truck on a highway south of Vienna shows "the desperation of people seeking protection or a new life in Europe," said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency in Geneva.
The International Office of Migration has recorded 2,636 deaths linked to Mediterranean crossings this year, and more may have vanished beneath the waves out of sight of rescuers.
Each day, thousands are boarding flimsy boats for Italy or Greece, and many more are placing themselves and their families at the mercy of human traffickers by slogging for days or weeks through the western Balkans toward what they hope will be a brighter future. Most are fleeing war, conflict or persecution in countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.
Several factors are driving the surge of Syrian refugees, including worsening conditions in that country's refugee centers partly due to budget cuts and the reluctance of neighboring countries to take in more people, the U.N. said.
Two ships went down Thursday off the western Libyan city of Zuwara, where Hussein Asheini of the Red Crescent said at least 105 bodies had been recovered. About 100 people were rescued, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, with at least 100 more believed to be missing.
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"A coast guard team is still diving in and checking inside to see if there's anyone else," Asheini added.
Workers pulled the dead from the water and placed them in orange-and-black body bags that were laid out on the waterfront in Zuwara, about 105 kilometers (65 miles) west of Tripoli. Several victims floated face-down in a flooded boat towed into the harbor. At least one of the dead wore a life vest.
Most of the people rescued came from Syria and sub-Saharan African countries, said Mohamed al-Misrati, the spokesman for the Red Crescent in Libya.
"You can imagine what they are going through. Some of them are still looking for their friends. We're trying to speak to them but many of them are too traumatized to even talk about the incident," he said.
Lawless Libya, which doesn't have the resources to deal with the flow of migrants, is a prime starting point for many, with human traffickers filling boats they know cannot reach European shores but figuring that rescuers will pick up the passengers and take them to Italy.
Often, the smugglers force migrants below deck where their chances of survival are even dimmer. Rescuers who boarded one boat Wednesday counted 52 people who suffocated in the hold, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Survivors said the smugglers beat them with sticks to keep them below deck, and one said they demanded money to let the migrants come up for fresh air.
While the U.N. agency said more than 300,000 refugees crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, the International Office of Migration, an intergovernmental agency, put the number at 332,000 on Friday.
Hungarian police arrested four people overnight after the decomposing bodies of 71 migrants, including included eight women and four children, were found in the truck on Austria's main highway.
The suspects, allegedly part of a larger Bulgarian-Hungarian smuggling ring, include an Afghan and three Bulgarians, one of whom owns the truck, Hungarian national police spokeswoman Viktoria Csiszer-Kovacs said. Police raided houses and questioned almost 20 others in the case.
Hans Peter Doskozil, chief of police in eastern Burgenland province, said the migrants probably suffocated. At least some of the dead were Syrian, travel documents indicated, though most of the partially decomposed bodies remained unidentified.
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The 71 bodies were moved from a warehouse, where the abandoned truck was towed Thursday, to a Vienna morgue for autopsies. Workers in gloves and masks lifted body bags into coffins neatly lined up on the warehouse ramp.
The tragedy "should serve as a wake-up call ... for joint European action" in dealing with the migrants flocking to Europe, said Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner.
Added Fleming: "We believe this underscores the ruthlessness of people smugglers who have expanded their business from the Mediterranean Sea to the highways of Europe. It shows they have absolutely no regard for human life, and that they are only after profit."
At Budapest's Keleti train station, volunteers tending to migrants asked people to bring candles and flowers for a tribute there Friday in memory of the 71 victims.
The U.N. refugee agency urged authorities to crack down on smugglers and to expand safer, legal ways for refugees to reach Europe.
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Hungarian police said they arrested 21 suspected human traffickers in Budapest. They included 16 Romanians, two Syrians, two Hungarians and a Russian citizen. Police said they confiscated 16 vehicles, which had been carrying 112 people, including several Syrians, traveling along the Balkans route into the European Union.
Prosecutors in Sicily detained 10 people on suspicion of smuggling and murder Friday for having allegedly crammed dozens of migrants into the airless hold of a boat where 52 bodies were found earlier this week.
The Swedish ship Poseidon rescued 439 people Wednesday but crew members made a grisly discovery when they looked in the hold. They ended up smashing the deck to reach the 52 corpses inside.
Palermo prosecutor Maurizio Scalia said the detained crew included seven Moroccans, two Syrians and a Libyan who was the "violent" enforcer of order on the ship. The migrants were mostly from sub-Saharan Africa: Sudan, Senegal, Nigeria but also Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The International Office of Migration said Greece has received more than 218,000 this year. It said up to 2,000 migrants are crossing every 24 hours from Greece into Macedonia and then into Serbia, with government resources under strain, and the office warned the flow could increase to over 3,000 daily.
Greece is a shorter sail from Turkey, with a nightly influx of hundreds of Syrian refugees. Thousands more make that trip daily in small, inflatable boats that aren't designed for the open sea.
Greece's coast guard said Friday it had rescued 665 people from 20 boats in the previous 24 hours. Hundreds more presumably made the trip.
Once in Greece or Italy, migrants still face long and dangerous journeys to their final destinations. From Greece, the primary route is by foot and train through Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary before heading to western Europe.
More than 1,000 people, including families with young children, gathered Friday at Greece's border with Macedonia, and scuffles broke out as they waited to cross. Several hundred had arrived the previous day and spent a chilly night in the open, lighting small fires to keep warm. Aid organizations provided medical help, shelter, food and water, while volunteers left donated clothes. Most were from Syria and Afghanistan, while others were from Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh.