Syrian refugee dies in cycle incident in Northern Ireland

Mohammed Mahfouz Balid, a dentist from Aleppo, arrived in Northern Ireland last year

Mohammed Mahfouz Balid, who died in a cycle incident on Wednesday, came to Northern Ireland from Aleppo in Syria last year. Photograph: George Ourfalian/Reuters

Mohammed Mahfouz Balid, who died in a cycle incident on Wednesday, came to Northern Ireland from Aleppo in Syria last year. Photograph: George Ourfalian/Reuters

 

A Syrian dentist whose family fled the war-torn country to live in Northern Ireland has died after he was hit by a lorry.

Mohammed Mahfouz Balid (48) had been cycling to work at a blinds factory in Lisburn when he was involved in a collision with a lorry on the Knockmore Road on Wednesday at around 2.30pm. A dentist in his home city of Aleppo, Mr Balid had been living with his family in the city for more than a year.

On Thursday the father of four was remembered by his friend Raied Al-Wazzan as a “quiet family man”. “He was a very generous man, a very quiet and helpful man,” Mr Al-Wazzan said.

“A family man, always looking out for his children and family. He was a dentist in Aleppo and when he came here he needed to do an exam to allow him to work as a dentist so in the meantime he was working in a blinds factory in Lisburn.”

An online fundraising appeal had been set up to assist in paying for the cost of him obtaining UK dentistry qualifications.

Mr Balid’s wife Abir moved to Northern Ireland in 2013 with the couple’s children. Ms Balid’s mother was born in Belfast so the family were able to secure Irish passports.

“When the war started in Syria the mother came here first and Abir and then the children,” Mr Al-Wazzan said. “They were not entitled to a British passport so I helped them with paperwork to get Irish passports and a visa for him.”

Mr Balid’s funeral is expected to take place on Friday, in the Muslim tradition, at the Belfast Islamic Centre.

SDLP Cllr Pat Catney was among the politicians in the North to call for immediate action to address safety concerns in the area where Mr Balid died, as a motorcyclist was also killed in similar circumstances in November 2014.

So far this year 14 people had died on the roads in the Northern Ireland, four more than compared to the same period last year.