Canada looks to reunite Syrian refugee family after tragic fire claims seven children
Canada is seeking to swiftly resettle the siblings of a Syrian refugee distraught over the loss of her seven children in a Nova Scotia house fire, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.
"We're looking at what can be done within our system to give this family a little solace in a time of unbelievable tragedy," the prime minister said in a visit to Halifax, where the fire took place.
"The immigration minister is seized with this particular case," he responded when asked if Ottowa would fast-track the immigration or asylum process to bring the woman's brothers to Canada in order to provide her with family support, AFP reported.
The Barho family was among tens of thousands of Syrian refugees resettled in Canada over the past four years.
Kawthar and Ebhraheim Barho fled Raqqa, where the Islamic State group militants set up its de facto capital, with their seven children, and were resettled in the Atlantic port city of Halifax in 2017.
Neighbour Danielle Burt said she heard a loud bang and a woman screaming in the middle of the night on Tuesday, before seeing flames ravage the family's home in what has been described as Nova Scotia's deadliest blaze in years.
Kawthar remains in hospital, where she has been reportedly repeating the name of her youngest child, Abdullah, who died during the blaze at only four months old.
Ahmed, 15, Rola, 12, Mohammed, 10, Ghala, 8, Hala, 4, and Rana, 3, also died in the blaze, which police are continuing to investigate.
Ebraheim Barho remains hospitalised with severe burns and is fighting for his life.
"For the past year and a half, the children have been able to enjoy life as kids should be able to: going to school, riding bicycles, swimming, having friends, running in the yard, celebrating birthday parties and hanging out with the neighbors on their porch swing," the HEART Society, the non-profit group which sponsored the family to come to Canada, said in an online post.
"They loved every minute of it, and it seems impossible we won't hear their laughter and feel their hugs again."
Friends of the family, the Imam Council of Halifax, and the HEART Society have crowdfunded almost hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the family.
Officials would not comment on the specific case, citing strict privacy laws, but said Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen can fast-track asylum or immigration cases, including security and medical screenings, in special circumstances.