In November last year, the family of a Kurdish migrant, who died trying to enter Britain in 2001, were finally able to bury their son in northern Iraq, after his body was released from a Kent mortuary. IRR News has now received pictures of the funeral.
In May 2004, IRR News reported on the plight of Jamal Ali Said and his wife Galawza. Their son, Omid Jamil Ali, died trying to enter Britain three and a half years ago. For three years after his death, his body remained in a Kent mortuary, as the family, having used all their money to pay for his journey to the UK, could not afford to pay for his body to be returned to Iraq for burial.
After consulting with the family, the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism launched an appeal to raise the £3,100 needed for the return of the body. That sum was quickly collected after a huge response from IRR News readers.
Omid Jamil Ali’s body was finally returned, via Turkey, to his family in northern Iraq on 29 October 2004. His funeral was held a few days later. The return had been delayed for some time while arrangements were made with the various authorities in the UK and Turkey for permission to return the body. A small sum that was left over from the transport costs was donated to the family.
The family have now written to IRR News with photographs of the funeral and asked us to thank all those who came forward to make a contribution. They will now be able to move on with their lives, knowing that Omid rests in peace in his homeland. The return of the body to Iraq for burial was particularly important to the family as it allowed them to have a traditional Kurdish Muslim burial ceremony, involving the extended family.
Omid Jamil Ali, aged 21, first left his village of Sharbarza, northern Iraq, in August 2001, hoping to find work in Britain. Up till then, his family had been farmers. But the double impact of the United Nations’ sanctions and Saddam Hussein’s economic siege of Iraqi Kurdistan had left them desperately poor. Their only option was to sell their land to pay for their eldest son to be sent to work in Europe.
Two weeks after leaving Iraq, Omid had reached Italy from where he made his way to Calais. Hoping to reach Britain, he leapt on to a moving train from a bridge at the French end of the Channel Tunnel. But in the fall he suffered a severe injury. The train reportedly did not stop till it arrived in England. Only then was Omid retrieved and taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.