It was the worst of news. A young man, just 21, missing in the River Shannon after an afternoon of swimming with friends. Last week this tragedy unfolded in Carrick-on-Shannon after Kurdish refugee, Jalal Azizi disappeared on Wednesday, March 28.
Despite frantic searches by his family and friends they were unable to locate the young man and gardai and sub aqua teams were called in to comb the river. Jalal’s body was recovered by divers near where he disappeared shortly after 1.30pm on Thursday.
Jalal, a twin and a much beloved son and brother, had been born in a refugee camp in Iraq in 1990. He fled war torn Iraq into Jordan with his family and from here was finally offered sanctuary in Ireland, moving to Carrick-on-Shannon after they were granted refugee status in 2006.
It was evident just how much a part of the local community Jalal had become with many Carrick-on-Shannon residents coming out to line the route as his remains began their journey to Ballyhaunis, his final resting place, last Friday.
It was evident in the crowds of students and teachers from Carrick Community School, where Jalal and his siblings had attended, who came to pay their respects, and it was evident in the shocked outpouring of grief, not merely in the Irish Kurdish community, but throughout the region.
Jalal was a young man on the cusp of adulthood. A bright, fun and enthusiastic character who, in the years he lived in the county, touched so many lives.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer on behalf of the Azizi family, Jalal’s first cousin, Rahim, said that the family were very grateful for all the support they had received over the last few days, especially from the people of Carrick-on-Shannon.
“We would like to thank everybody from the children and teachers at the Community School, to the young people of the community, the wider community and the gardai and the divers who recovered the body,” he said.
For more on this tragic story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.