Syrian pages and accounts shared the news on social networking sites, confirming the tragic discovery of the body of Thaer Khaled al-Rahhal, a young Syrian man, among the victims of a fateful boat incident off the coast of Greece. Rahhal had embarked on this perilous journey to Europe in search of medical treatment for his cancer-stricken son.
According to Rahhal’s cousin, who spoke to Syria TV, the deceased hailed from the governorate of Daraa and departed from Jordan on the ill-fated boat, hoping to secure proper care for his son battling cancer.
Numerous pages and accounts expressed their grief over the loss of this young man, and some mentioned that the funeral at the deceased’s father’s residence would be postponed until a memorial service could be held to honour all the victims from Daraa who perished in the boat tragedy.
The cousin stated that Rahhal used to work in a vegetable market in Amman, the capital of Jordan, while his wife took care of their sick child with cancer in Syria, alongside their other siblings.
Due to the critical condition of their child, the wife spent most of her time in hospitals, which placed significant strain on the couple and their family. Despite efforts from neighbours and relatives to provide support, the children needed the presence of their parents by their side, as the cousin of Rahhal explained.
In light of these circumstances, Rahhal had to resign from his job in order to shoulder the responsibilities of caring for the children and managing the household, while his wife accompanied their child to medical facilities.
The cousin of the deceased mentioned that Rahhal had reached out to several humanitarian organizations, seeking employment opportunities that would enable him to personally cover the costs of his son’s treatment, without having to rely on assistance from others.
“The cousin tearfully adds that the man was desperately in need of a job that could sufficiently support his family during this difficult time. Unfortunately, the organizations that offered him employment provided a salary that fell short of covering the treatment costs, and the job was only guaranteed for a duration of three months.”
He further explains, “My cousin was initially hesitant to embark on this journey, but when he learned that his child required a spinal cord transplant, a medical procedure unavailable in Syria, he felt compelled to travel, hoping that it would offer a chance of survival for his son.”
Debt, fraud and an unfortunate end
Rahhal and his wife found themselves without any support, particularly since humanitarian organizations did not contribute to securing treatment for their sick child. With the dire economic conditions in Syria, the parents were unable to afford the exorbitant costs of treatment on their own.
According to the cousin of the “traveller,” Rahhal was left with no choice but to borrow significant amounts of money from his friends in order to embark on the journey to Europe. However, in his first attempt, he fell victim to a fraudulent smuggler, which forced him to borrow again. As a result, his debts accumulated to at least four thousand dollars.
Tragically, Thaer Khaled Rahhal’s efforts to save his child and provide for his family came to a devastating end. The overcrowded boat carrying hundreds of refugees, including Rahhal, sank off the Greek coast last week. The perilous journey, which originated from Libya and was intended to reach Italy, claimed the lives of many, with only 104 people managing to survive.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.