London fire: 50,000 people call on Home Office to bring parents of Grenfell Tower victim Mohammed Alhajali to son’s funeral

Tens of thousands of people are calling on the Home Office to bring the parents of a Syrian refugee killed in the Grenfell Tower blaze to the UK for his funeral.

Mohammed Alhajali, 23, who came to the UK with hopes for his future, was the first confirmed victim to have died in the horrific fire in west London in the early hours of Wednesday.

He was separated from his brother Omar, who survived the fire, as they fled the tower block through thick smoke.

Mr Alhajali was described as “a very amazing and kind person” who “gave love to everyone” in a statement from his heartbroken family released on Saturday.

More than 50,000 people have now signed a petition urging the Home Office to grant visas to Mr Alhajali’s parents.


Killed in blaze: Syrian refugee Mohammed Alhajali (PA)

The lobbying effort 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.

“My mum told me and I just burst in to tears. Even though I didn’t know him it was so difficult to bear the news,” she said.

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


Heartbroken: Omar Alhajali, who lost his brother Mohammed in the fire. (BBC News)

“I’ve tried to apply for a visa for my nan in Syria – appealed and appealed and got no response,” she said.

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

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

Grenfell Tower missing people – In pictures

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We have established processes in place which allow us to consider visa applications outside the Immigration Rules on compassionate grounds.

“We are in contact with Mr Alhajali’s family and will offer any assistance we can to help them obtain the necessary travel documents they will require in these terribly sad circumstances.”

Of the success of the campaign, Ms Suleiman said: “I’m happy – but not happy that it had to reach this. It shouldn’t reach a point where people are dying (before) we can allow families to be reunited with one another.”

The petition follows a crowdfunding effort to pay for Mr Alhajali’s funeral – with donations surpassing the £15,000 target within a day.

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.

First pictures from inside Grenfell Tower

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

“To God we belong and to him we return.”

It comes as police announced 58 people are now presumed to have died in the fire, on the Lancaster West Estate.

The number of people confirmed dead still stands at 30 and 16 bodies have been recovered.

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