Thursday 27 July 2017

First Grenfell Tower victim identified was 'amazing and kind', say family

Mohammad Al-Haj Ali is said to have been trapped on the floor for two hours while hundreds of firefighters sought to rescue residents but failed to reach above the 13th floor
Mohammad Al-Haj Ali is said to have been trapped on the floor for two hours while hundreds of firefighters sought to rescue residents but failed to reach above the 13th floor

Nina Massey

The family of Syrian refugee Mohammad Alhajali, the first Grenfell Tower victim to be identified, have described him as a "a very amazing and kind person".

The 23-year old's family said he had come to the UK with hopes for the future, and they will miss him dearly.

In a statement Mr Alhajali's family said: "Mohammad was a very amazing and kind person. He gave love to everyone. He came to the UK because he had ambitions and aims for his life and for his family.

"Our whole family will miss Mohammad dearly and he will never be forgotten.

"To God we belong and to him we return."

Mr Alhajali's older brother Omar - who was with him in the flat - survived the fire after they were separated on the way out.

Read More: Hundreds gather at candlelit vigil for Grenfell Tower victims

Almost 65,000 people have signed a petition to bring his parents to the UK so they can attend Mr Alhajali's funeral.

The petition was set up by family friend Mirna Suleiman, 26, who had been ringing around numerous hospitals, rest centres and the casualty helpline for news of his fate before discovering that he had not made it out alive.

She chose to launch the campaign because, because as someone with Syrian family herself, she knew how difficult it was to obtain a visa for visits.

"I've tried to apply for a visa for my nan in Syria - appealed and appealed and got no response," she said.

Read More: 'He survived the war, only to be killed in a tower block in London' - first victim of London blaze named as Syrian refugee

The percentage of rejected visa applications for visits from Syria has soared after the country's devastating civil war began in 2011.

However, the Home Office has indicated that it will allow Mr Alhajali's family to come to the UK on compassionate grounds.

The Change.org petition follows a crowdfunding effort to pay for Mr Alhajali's funeral.

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