The body of an Ethiopian student, who died in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) while working on an outdoor billboard in unsafe conditions, has been repatriated to his home country following a successful funeral fundraising campaign by his fellow students.
Meles Halieu, a 28-year-old Master’s student at Near East University, was electrocuted while trying to mount a projector onto a billboard in heavy rain on the Nicosia-Girne Highway last Thursday.
His employer, Gazi Haraç, was arrested and charged with failing to ensure adequate safety measures for the work, and for also employing staff without a work permit.
According to police reports, the incident occurred around 10.40 am on 30 December 2022. Halieu, who was working without an employment visa, was assisting Haraç, a TRNC resident. The pair were trying to install projector lighting onto an advertisement board owned by Turkcell.
Halieu was holding the projector when it unfortunately brushed the electricity cables above the billboard, sending a large current through his body. Despite emergency services attending the scene quickly and rushing him to the nearby hospital, Halieu could not be saved.
Among those to pay tribute to the popular post-graduate student was his NEU lecturer Rifat Reşatoğlu, who wrote on Facebook:
“Today I was shocked to hear the untimely demise of our MSc Student Meles Haileu. I am deeply saddened by this loss. May God give strength to his family to withstand this situation. May his soul rest in peace.
“Each of us will remember the day on which we had taken a photograph after the last lecture(28.12.2021, Tuesday). It will always be cherished in our memory… 🙁 “
On Sunday, TRNC international student body VOIS issued a hard-hitting statement on Meles Haileu’s death.
“It is unfortunate that whereas the rest of us get to start the new year, Meles does not, once again due to the mistakes and negligence towards the welfare of international students in the TRNC.
At the time of writing, Near East University (NEU) had not issued any statement on Halieu’s death, nor set about organising the funeral of their student. T-VINE have asked them for comment.
In the absence of action from Halieu’s university, friends of the popular student started a fundraising campaign to raise $4,600 to repatriate his body back to Ethiopia. The cost was later reduced after Turkish Airlines agreed to reduce their air transfer fees.
Earlier today Feven Tewodros, one of Meles’ friends who had been spearheading the fundraising, confirmed on social media that they had reached their required target and that Meles had started his final journey home to Ethiopia.
“Dear friends and people’s in TRNC
We would like to inform that we send the corpse to Ethiopia today at 3:00 pm. We are grateful and thankful for your support and being with us in this critical time. We really appreciate your help.
Thank you for your financial contribution and time.🙏🙏” Ms Tewodros wrote on North Cyprus Expats Uncut Version. She later confirmed to T-VINE that excess funds raised will be transferred to Meles’ family.
T-VINE extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Meles Haileu, may he rest in eternal peace.