He put a little face on the migrant/refugee crisis gripping Europe.
The story being pushed by the media is that Aylan died, washed up on the beach in Turkey trying to get to Greece, after fleeing terror in Syria. That his family had applied for them to get to Canada but that Canada had turned them down, leading them to this desperate journey in an unsafe dinghy. Aylan, his 5 year old brother, and their mother all died when the dinghy tipped.
Here’s a sample, from the Independent:
There are no beaches in Kobani, just bombs. From the Syrian town besieged by Isis, Aylan Kurdi and his brother fled. For the three short years of his life, Aylan had apparently only known fear.
Europe, and the sanctuary it can offer those fleeing Syria’s civil war, was the goal of Aylan’s family. After travelling several hundred miles through Turkey, eventually the time came for Aylan to cross the two short miles on the Aegean Sea to the Greek island of Kos. Thousands of others have made similar crossings – it is considered less fraught with danger than other refugee routes.
But that story isn’t quite true.
First, let’s start with that his name isn’t Aylan Kurdi, it’s Alan Shenu. Aylan is a Turkish equivalent of the name Alan, and Shenu is the actual family name. Turkey called them ‘Kurdi’, because they were Kurds.
The extended family admitted on Thursday that they had not actually applied to Canada for asylum for the family, despite earlier reports claiming that was the case. So they had not in fact been rejected.
Further, the Kurdi, or more exactly, the Shenu family had been living in Turkey for three years, pretty much as long as Alan was alive, so no, he hadn’t ‘only known fear’, he’d only known Turkey. They were not running from a war zone, at least not for the last three years, they were basically economic migrants because they wanted to leave Turkey. According to the Guardian, the deputy district governor Ekrem Aylanc told the BBC that the family had been in Turkey for three years before deciding they should move on to Europe.
The father had a job in Turkey but wanted to go to Europe to get his teeth fixed. According to the WSJ:
Ms. Kurdi, speaking Thursday in a Vancouver suburb, said that their father, still in Syria, had suggested Abdullah go to Europe to get his damaged teeth fixed and find a way to help his family leave Turkey. She said she began wiring her brother money three weeks ago, in €1,000 ($1,100) amounts, to help pay for the trip.
The WSJ also notes that Mr. Kurdi gave two different accounts of his rescue:
Mr. Kurdi gave different accounts of what happened next. In one interview, he said he swam ashore and walked to the hospital. In another, he said he was rescued by the coast guard.