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‘They didn’t deserve to die’: aunt of Syrian boys who drowned off Turkey

WATCH: Rarely has one image of a boy triggered an international reaction like the way the photo of a dead Syrian refugee child has. The boy’s aunt, who lives in Canada, said she’d been doing all she could to help him and his family start a new life. Vassy Kapelos has her story.

WARNING: This post contains details and images that some viewers may find disturbing. Discretion is advised.

VANCOUVER — The father of Alan Kurdi, the young boy whose limp body was seen washed ashore on a Turkish beach in a haunting photograph Wednesday, fought with “all his power” to save his two sons and wife after the boat they were in capsized.

The family fled the war-ravaged city of Kobani and was trying to get to the Greek island of Kos and onward to a safer life.

Abdullah Kurdi, was unable to save three-year-old Alan, five-year-old Ghalib and his wife Rehan.

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READ MORE: Will this photo help people grasp the desperation of Syrian refugees?

“They didn’t deserve to die. They didn’t. They were going for a better life. It shouldn’t… it shouldn’t [have] happened to them,” the boys’ aunt Tima Kurdi, Abdullah’s sister, told reporters outside her Coquitlam, B.C. home Thursday morning.
WATCH: The aunt of a Syrian family who drowned off Turkey’s coast gives a heartbreaking account of their final moments.

Fighting back tears, she described the horrible ordeal her brother went through early Wednesday when the smuggler boat he paid to have transport his family capsized in the Aegean Sea.

“Those two boys, they were in his arms. He said he tried [with] all his power to put them up [above] the water,” she recounted. “Then when he look[ed] in his left arm… the older boy Ghalib [was] already dead.
“[H]e let him go and he said I will try to save the second one, Alan. He look[ed] at him. There was blood coming from his eyes. So he close[d] his eyes and let him go. He looked around for his wife. She was floating in the water, like a balloon.”

Tima Kurdi said Rehan told her a week ago that she was “scared of the water.”

READ MORE: The European migrant crisis is only getting worse. Here’s what you need to know

But the situation was desperate enough for the family to attempt the crossing to Kos — as thousands of other refugees have done so far this year.

The photograph of Alan lying face-down on the beach, as the tide washed up against his tiny head, has become a symbol of a crisis the entire world is struggling to deal with — the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

WARNING: This below image contains content some viewers may find disturbing. Discretion is advised.

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More than four million of the 59.5 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes are Syrians living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

The Canadian government fulfilled a commitment to resettle 1,300 Syrian refugees in March— three months after its end of 2014 deadline — and has so far resettled a further 1,002 Syrian refugees toward a January commitment to take in an additional 10,000 Syrians over the next three years.