Aylan Kurdi
A memorial service was held in Vancouver for Aylan Kurdi, his brother Galip and their mother RehannaTwitter

A memorial service has been held in Canada for three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, his brother Galip and their mother Rehanna. They drowned while trying to reach the Greek island of Kos in a rubber dinghy which capsized 30 minutes after it set off from Bodrum in Turkey. Aylan's father Abdullah survived the ordeal.

An image of the toddler lying lifeless on a beach in Bodrum, captured the stark reality of the migrant crisis, sending shockwaves around the world. Family, friends and strangers touched by their tragic story attended a moving memorial service at a theatre in Vancouver in honour of the family. White balloons were released on the city's waterfront in memory of the two boys and their mother.

The family were fleeing war-torn Syria and hoped to reach Canada to join the children's aunt Tima Kurdi, a hairdresser in Vancouver who emigrated to Canada 20 years ago. She told the Ottawa Citizen: "I was trying to sponsor them, and I have my friends and my neighbours who helped me with the bank deposits, but we couldn't get them out, and that is why they went in the boat."

At the service, Tima said she bears the blame for their deaths. "I blame myself because my brother does not have money. I sent him the money to pay the smuggler and to cross that water."

Ms Kurdi said leaving for a better life in Europe was the "only option" for them after their country had been ravaged by civil war which has left over 250,000 people dead. Their urgency to flee was heightened after a relative of her sister-in-law was beheaded by Islamic State militants.

The boys' father Abdullah is now expected to stay in his Syrian hometown of Kobani, where Aylan, Galip and Rehanna are buried. Expressing his loss he said: "Our children were the most beautiful in the world. They woke me everyday to play with me. What is more beautiful than this. There is nothing left."

Two petitions have been launched calling on the British government to fulfil their international humanitarian obligations and accept more refugees. The You Gov petition is now well over 200,000 and the Independent's petition has garnered over 100,000 signatures. There is also a solidarity march planned in London for 12 September, with 40,000 people expected to attend.