The couple’s dream of reuniting in the UK was shattered by a channel disaster

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Soren, Iraq Mariam Noori never boarded a plane before boarding a flight from Iraq with a visa from Italy in early November. She had never seen the sea before boarding a slim boat on the English Channel from France last week.

“She knows only small rivers here,” said Ms Nouri’s family home in this mountain town in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. “We don’t even know what big waves are.”

Nouri, also known as Paran by his friends and family, was among 26 people who drowned when a thin inflatable boat he was traveling in with other immigrants sank in the treacherous and cold waters of the English Channel on Wednesday.

A 24-year-old Kurdish woman living in the UK for the past 14 years has tried to move to the UK to join her fianc.

On Saturday, his cousin, Mrs. Hassan, spoke in the Noori family’s kitchen, while Ms. Nouri’s mother, sisters, and cousins ​​cried in the living room Ms. Nouri celebrated her engagement in January in the same room. “She must be a new bride,” cried one of her seven sisters, throbbing in agony.

Mrs. Hassan and Mrs. Noori were the same age and had been best friends since childhood. Ms. Noori and her fianc, Karsan Assad, were dating during a trip to her home when Ms. Hassan was their editor-in-chief.

“They will come to my house when they have a date and they will talk,” he said. “They fell in love like Romeo and Juliet.”

Mr. Assad, 41, is a barber who lives in Portsmouth, England. According to his family, Ms. Noori dreamed of opening her own hair and nail salon there.

Ms. Hassan, an engineering student, works part-time at a florist in the Kurdish capital, Erbil, from where Ms. Noori boarded a plane to embark on her lucky journey, a two-hour drive from her hometown of Soren on Valentine’s Day. He said Assad had visited and bought a handful of roses to take to Ms Noori.

Ms. Noori finished high school but did not go to college. In late October, Ms. Noori called her close friend and asked her to come to her house, where she met Mr. He said he was ready to join Assad and would leave soon.

“She told me, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going the safe way,'” he said, avoiding crossing the sea, Ms Hassan said.

Mr. Mr Assad allegedly paid $ 20,000 to someone on the street outside the Italian embassy and bought an Italian-issued tourist visa that allowed Ms Nouri to travel to the European Union. Assad’s brother Nihat said.

“Some people in Erbil get visas they’re like smugglers,” said Nihat Assad, a butcher shop in Erbil, referring to people selling visas in the city.

The Italian embassy could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Noori’s uncle, Ms. Hassan’s father, worked at Erbil Airport and talked to her about how to find the boarding gate and seat numbers on the plane. Mrs. Noori spoke Turkish, but not English, and Noori tried to teach her some words.

He traveled to Turkey, then to Italy, Germany and France. But she was twice denied a visa to Britain to allow her to join her fianc, and she got stuck when he came to France. To make matters worse, her uncle, who was caring for her at the airport, died of a heart attack while traveling through Europe.

“In my opinion she was exhausted and she was alone there mourning for her uncle my father,” Ms Hassan said. She said her cousin is eager to reunite with her fianc.

She met the wife of her fianc’s Iraqi friend in Germany, and her relatives said she was trying to move to the UK. Then, in France, the couple said to her, ‘Just a few more hours, why don’t you come with us?’ At the channel crossing, he agreed, Ms Hassan said. Immigrants who passed by that day said the boats cost more than $ 3,000 per passenger.

“When she was in Germany I told her: ‘Don’t take the inflatable boat,'” said his fiance’s brother, Mr. Assad said he saw her at the Erbil airport. “She told me: ‘Even if I have to swim, I have to reach the cursive.’ She was so in love with him.

Mr. Screenshot of a map sent from the boat when Assad was in the middle of the boat and Ms. Noori after the location. She called her fiance and told him that it was taking water and that they were trying to bind it with pots. He said he was waiting for the help of the Coast Guard.

But the rescue never happened, and Mrs. Noori drowned with the wife of her fianc’s friend. Her husband, who was on the second boat that returned when the first boat began to sink, survived to identify the two bodies at the hospital.

Ms. Noori’s death has devastated her close family of seven sisters and one brother.

“My sister was adorable,” said her brother Mohammed Noori, 21. “No one who has even met her once has forgotten her because she has a very loving heart.”

In the UK, Mr. A friend who answered Assad’s phone said he was taken to hospital from the shock of losing the woman he loved.

The tragedy is one of many tragedies facing the Iraqi Kurds, who seceded from Saddam Hussein’s control in 1991, with the help of their Peshmerga militant efforts and US-led air support. For decades, Kurds from Iraq and the three surrounding countries fled the persecution and settled in Europe. The 50 million Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world in the Middle East and Turkey without a single state.

When relatives came to mourn Ms. Nouri’s family on Saturday, her father Nouri Mohammed, 67, a retired Bash Merka militant, stood straight at the street entrance to greet them.

“I want other countries to have some respect for the Kurds,” he said. Mohammed accepted the condolence. “I urge the world, especially the United States, not to block the path for our youth do not leave them in the hands of traitors and murderers and the mafia.”

Kurdish officials say the Kurdish and Iraqi governments are trying to retrieve the bodies of all Iraqis who died on Wednesday and send them for burial.

Noori’s cousin Ms. Hassan said, “We want his body to come and rest with our family.

Shankar Khalil Contributed report from Soren.

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