Death of Grenfell Tower woman ‘double trauma’ for sister hurt in childhood fire

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A woman who was partially disabled in a childhood fire has spoken of her “double trauma” after losing her sister in the Grenfell Tower blaze.

Fathia Ali Ahmed Elsanosi came to the UK as a refugee in the early 1990s after fleeing her home country, Sudan, in search of safety.

The 73-year-old was found along with relatives on the 23rd floor, where she lived.

Hayat Elsanosi, her sister, was a victim of fire when she was 13, leaving her partially disabled.

The fire at Grenfell Tower in west London (Natalie Oxford/PA)
The fire at Grenfell Tower in west London (Natalie Oxford/PA)

“Fathia was the person who supported Hayat, accepted her disability and encouraged her until she finished university,” Wafa said.

In a statement read by Wafa, Ms Elsanosi said she felt lonely and struggled to sleep knowing her sister was dead.

She said the family’s faith in the UK had been destroyed and the safety her sister sought in the country’s capital was revealed as an “illusion”.

She said: “Fathia came to this country as a refugee seeking security and safety after her struggle with the regime in Sudan, where she and her children had been subject to harassment.

“She felt safe here in London. Because of the way she died, this now feels like an illusion for us and definitely for her.

“Her death was a terrible shock for me and I find it very difficult to cope without her.

“My life now has been damaged by this twice, twice.”

Ms Elsanosi buried her head in her hands at the end of the statement, during which Wafa had to pause several times to regain her composure.

The friend added: “It’s a double trauma for Hayat because she was a victim of fire herself and now she lost her sister because of fire.”

The tribute was then read in Arabic.

Ms Elsanosi recalled her sister was a “pillar of strength” for their family who had “worked hard to become a teacher”.

Her best childhood memories were when they spent time together by the Red Sea.

Her sister was talented at sewing, would stitch together beautiful saris and decorate handbags and shoes.

After coming to England, she suffered heart difficulties and spent a month in hospital.

When she came out she was offered accommodation in Kensington and Chelsea, eventually moving into Grenfell Tower.

The last time Ms Elsanosi saw her sister was when she visited Sudan between November 2016 and March 2017.

She said: “This was a wonderful time. I now wonder if Fathia knew that something was going to happen to her, and that we had to make this time special.”

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