Canada seeks to bring in family of Syrian refugee after children die in fire

Seven members of the Barho familyImage source, Courtesy Ummah Masjid
Image caption,
Seven members of the Barho family, who arrived in Canada as Syrian refugees in 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canada is looking at ways to bring over relatives of a Syrian refugee who lost her children in a house fire.

Kawthar Barho's seven children died in an early morning fire in the Canadian city of Halifax on Tuesday.

Her husband sustained life-threatening injuries in the fire.

The family had come to Canada after fleeing their home in Raqqa, which had been taken over by the group known as Islamic State.

Ms Barho, 30, has no other family in the country.

Mr Trudeau told reporters on Thursday in Halifax that the federal immigration minister is giving personal attention to the case and seeing what can be done within the system to bring over some of her family members to bring "some solace in this tragedy".

"In heartbreaking cases like this we're certainly looking at doing what we can to bring this family, which has suffered such a devastating loss, together," he said.

There has been an outpouring of support for the parents in the wake of the tragedy, including a vigil on Wednesday evening attended by the prime minister.

An online fundraiser for the Syrian couple has also raised over C$440,000 ($330,000; £255,000) in two days.

The youngest Barho child was just four months old and the oldest was 15.

The funeral for the children will be held at a local mosque the family attended.

The family had been privately sponsored to come to Canada by a local refugee resettlement group.

"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 neighbours on their porch swing," the organisation wrote in a Facebook post.

"They loved every minute of it, and it seems impossible we won't hear their laughter and feel their hugs again."

Image source, Robert Short/CBC
Image caption,
Seven children were killed in the fire

Authorities say it took about an hour to get the flames under control when fire and emergency services arrived on the scene in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Fire crews said the fire quickly engulfed the first and second floors of the building.

The two-storey home was completely gutted by the fire.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way.