An appeal by an Iraqi family for the body of their migrant son to be returned home for burial, three years after he died trying to enter Britain, has received a strong response from IRR News’ readers. The necessary £3,100 has now been raised.
Two weeks ago, 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 years ago. Since then, his body has remained in a Kent mortuary. The family, having used all their money to pay for his journey to the UK, could not afford to pay the £3,100 to have his body returned to Iraq for burial.
After consulting with the family, the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF) launched an appeal to raise the money needed for the return of the body. That sum has now been collected. IRR News spoke to a friend of the family to pass on the good news and received a message thanking all those who had so generously contributed to the appeal.
CARF particularly appreciates the support from Positive Action in Housing and Al Meezan.
Arrangements are now being made for the return of the body through a specialist Muslim funeral service company which will take the body through Turkey as far as the Iraqi border. Any remaining funds will be donated to the family to pay for their transport to the border to collect the body and to help meet the funeral costs. The return of the body to Iraq for burial is particularly important to the family as it allows them to have a traditional Kurdish Muslim burial ceremony, involving the extended family – which would not be possible if the body were buried in the UK.
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 West’s economic 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.