The Refugees Section of the Emigrants’ Commission pays its respects to Ashih TEKLEAB HAILE, a refugee from Eritrea who escaped from his home land to save his life and who passed away tragically in Malta, yesterday, 20th July 2011, after saving a French man from drowning.

32 year old Tekleab is married to Selemawit Hagus Belay. They met and married in Sudan in 2006 and arrived in Malta by sea in October 2009.

During this time of mourning, Selemawit is being consoled by her closest friends. The Emigrants’ Commission sends their condolences to Tekleab’s wife, his mother and his family. The date of the funeral will be announced at a later stage.

The Emigrants’ Commission said that “France, who has shown great sympathy towards the refugees in Malta should be proud that one of their citizens was saved by a refugee.”

Meanwhile, the Eritrean community in Malta and friends of Ashih Tekleab Haile, with the support of Jesuit Refugee Service Malta, are raising funds to help his family at this difficult time.

“Our aim is to help his family to transport the body to Eritrea and to provide them with financial support at this moment. Ashih used to send money to his widowed mother and four unmarried siblings in Eritrea regularly, to help them to get by. They will surely find life very hard without his support so we feel we should help them as much as we can, particularly at this time,” said Goitom Yosief, from the Eritrean community in Malta.

Ashih lost his life tragically, Wednesday July 20, 2011, when he was dragged into the sea as he struggled to rescue a drowning man. His family wish that he will be buried in his homeland, in line with Eritrean customs and traditions. However, transportation is expensive, so the Eritrean communities in Malta, Italy and other countries are raising funds to try to cover the costs.

“Ashih worked hard all his life; even in Malta, he and his wife struggled constantly to be able to move out of the Open Centre, rent their own flat and live independently. Yet, all along, in spite of the difficulties, he remained positive and he did his best to help others and make a difference. He supported his family because he really cared about them and knew that they could not manage without him. In fact, even now, his wife has pledged to continue to support them as much as she can, because she knows how much this meant to him,” said Mr Yosief.

Anyone wishing to support this initiative can do so by sending a cheque made out to JRS – Ashih Tekleab Fund, to JRS Malta, 50 Triq ix-Xorrox, Birkirkara BKR 1631 or by depositing money in one of these accounts:

BOV: JRS – Ashih Tekleab Fund – Ac. No. 40020083708

HSBC: JRS – Ashih Tekleab Fund – Ac. No. 016116055056

UPDATE (26.07.11): Today, Tuesday 26th July 2011, at 2:30pm a funeral service for the repose of the soul of Ashih Tekleab HAILE will be held at Mater Dei Hospital Chapel. Following the funeral service, his body will be transported to the Airport to be taken to Eritrea to be buried in his home land according to the wish of his family.