Belfast Telegraph

Syrian murder victim Hazem Ahmed Ghreir appeal hits £3,000

By Victoria Leonard

A crowdfunding campaign launched to repatriate the body of a Syrian refugee who was murdered in Belfast has raised more than £3,000 in just a week.

Hazem Ahmed Ghreir, who was in his 30s, was stabbed in the Downshire Place area of Belfast last Sunday, June 4, and died in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

An 18-year-old man has been charged with murder and remanded in custody.

With Hazem's parents and extended family living as refugees in Turkey, a crowdfunding appeal was launched last week to raise £6,000 to send Hazem's body for burial in a town on the Turkish/Syrian border.

Last night £3,030 had been raised in just seven days.

The campaign is being spearheaded by Dr Romana Khaoury, who has undertaken voluntary work with support groups for refugees in Northern Ireland.

"I didn't know Hazem personally, but a mutual friend told me the family were devastated and they wanted to take the body to Turkey," she revealed.

"I asked how I could help and then set up the fundraising campaign, and the family are supportive of it.

"I work for the Department for Communities and as part of that we interviewed the first wave of Syrian refugees to come through a welcome centre and settle in Belfast.

"They were lovely people and now I wonder if Hazem was among them. When something happens in such close proximity and you actually meet members of that community you realise that that's somebody's son who has escaped a terrible situation. It's so unfortunate and heart-wrenching that such a terrible thing could happen."

She added: "We are aiming to raise £6,000 to get his body to where his parents are and we have had a good response since we started last Monday."

Language teacher Rym Akhonzada, who is acting as a go-between for Romana and Hazem's family, said that Hazem had come to Belfast with his brother two-and-a-half years ago and was studying English.

"He had a bright future in front of him and so much to give back to Belfast and Northern Ireland," she stated.

l To donate search for Hazem Ahmed Ghreir's page created by Ro Mie on www.justgiving.com

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