SAO PAULO - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff criticized European nations on Friday for creating"barriers" to the entry of migrants, saying the Syrian child found on a beach in Turkey had died because he was "not welcome."
Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi died along with his mother and 5-year-old brother as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean to Greece. Photographs of Kurdi, washed up dead on the shores of Turkey, shocked the world and led to a wave of criticism against the way Europe is dealing with the thousands of refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East.
"That 3-year-old Syrian child died because he was not welcome. He died because he was abandoned, because countries created barriers for the entrance of that child," Rousseff said at an event in the northeastern state of Paraiba.
Rousseff promoted Brazil as a country that welcomed people from all over the world and said its ethnic mix was part of its identity. "Brazil was built by many ethnicities... from many cultures," she said.
In 2013 Brazil announced it would offer humanitarian visas to Syrians and other nationals affected by conflict in the region. Last year it took in a record 2,320 refugees, the majority from Syria, according to government figures.