Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Image of Alan Kurdi Sparks Major Increase in Canadian Aid Generosity

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Image of Alan Kurdi Sparks Major Increase in Canadian Aid Generosity

Article excerpt

Kurdi image sparks Canadian aid donations


OTTAWA - Canadians have flooded the United Nations children's agency with an outpouring of cash in the week since the image of a dead Syrian boy on a Turkish beach shocked the world.

And the Canadian head of UNICEF said a pair of private donors has offered to partly match future donations, which could drive up the contributions even further.

UNICEF said Canadians gave $60,000 to its Syria Emergency Response fund between January and the end of August. But it has collected almost three times that -- $175,000 -- in just the first 10 days of September.

The spike is due to the impact of a Sept. 2 image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi lying face down on a Turkish beach after his family's unsuccessful attempt to flee to Greece, said David Morley, president of UNICEF Canada.

Morley said UNICEF did not make any changes to its fundraising strategy in the last week because it didn't want to be seen as exploiting the Kurdi tragedy.

As they made their contributions, many donors also asked about what more they could do, said Morley.

"People are also asking us: 'how do we sponsor people? What can we do?'" he said.

That's not UNICEF's mandate, so the organization has been directing people to refugee organizations.

Morley said his organization is also ramping up its appeal for emergency funding to help Syrian children in the mass exodus to Europe.

"We didn't want to take advantage of that photograph, but we have a moral responsibility as UNICEF -- if we're galvanized by this, we have to move on it."

The photo has also encouraged two private donors to pledge matching funds on future donations.

Maple Leaf Foods will match all new donations up to a ceiling of $25,000, starting Friday. And one well-heeled individual, who wishes to remain anonymous, has made the same $25,000 matching offer, said Morley.

Dave Bauer, a Maple Leaf spokesman, said the company has been working with UNICEF since the 2011 food crisis in the Horn of Africa.

The company matched $100,000 in donations in that case and has repeated the initiative in six subsequent emergencies, which saw the company provide an additional $200,000 in matching funds. …

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