SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Nothing has captured the migrant crisis in Europe like the picture of the body of a three-year-old Syrian boy who washed up, drowned on a Turkish beach.
His name was Aylan Kurdi. He was three years old, and lost his life crossing the Mediterranean Sea while trying to escape to Europe. His five-year-old brother and their mother also drowned in a desperate attempt to find a better life. His father survived after the family fled a Syrian town obliterated when ISIS tried to seize it earlier this year, leaving nearly everyone there homeless.
The father’s sister, Tima Kurdi, lives in Vancouver and said she gave the family money to pay a human smuggler.
“His wife told me on the phone a week ago, ‘I’m so scared of the water. I don’t know how to swim. What if something happens?’” said Kurdi.
Over 300,000 people have attempted the dangerous journey to Europe this year, and more than 2,000 have paid with their lives, including many other children.
Sacramento relief organizations say they’re seeing a spike in the number of refugees attempting to resettle here.
As Syria’s civil war rages on thousands of miles away, Pastor Raed is fighting the crisis in Sacramento.
“You’re fighting an ideology that is 1,400 years old, ideology that we’ll kill somebody if they are not the same movement same religion,” he said.
Raed, who prefers to keep his last name private, fearing ISIS retaliation, left Syria many years ago for a piece of the American dream. His sole mission now is helping dozens of new Syrian refugees resettle in Sacramento.
“Families have different needs. Somebody to help them do doctor appointments, enroll kids in school,” said Raed.
He says the U.S. is not doing enough to help desperate Syrians, but says the shocking image of a drowned Syrian boy washing ashore in the Mediterranean Sea is a wake-up call.
“It’s difficult to say, but that’s the fact they all could end up the same way,” he said.
Over the last few years, an estimated 4 million people have fled Syria. About 1,600 have settled in the U.S. At least a hundred of them arrived right here in California.
“It is the largest displacement of individuals from a particular nation since world war two, said Kirt Lewis with World Relief of Sacramento.
Lewis is the director the local World Relief office where volunteers are seeing a spike in the number of Middle Eastern refugees. He’s says Sacramento has resettled about 2,000 refugees in the last two years alone — up from an average of 700 a year.
“Sacramento is a more affordable place to live obviously than the Bay area…as well as just some job opportunity. I know Apple has been a good employer of a number of our Afghan clients that have arrived,” said Lewis.
Lewis says he expects to see more Syrians in the coming months as ISIS continues to slaughter Christians.
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