A disabled woman who lived on the 18th floor of Grenfell Tower was deprived of her “human right to escape”, her daughter has told an inquiry into the fire which killed her.
Tributes were paid to Sakineh Afrasiabi, 65, on Wednesday, which was the final day of commemorative hearings to the 72 victims of the blaze
Grief overcame one bereaved woman who collapsed in the afternoon and the inquiry was stopped briefly while she received medical attention.
Earlier, Ms Afrasiabi’s daughter, Nazanin Aghlani, had told the inquiry the housing department at Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) was partly to blame for her mother’s death.
She said the council agreed in 2003 the “vulnerable, physically disabled and partially sighted pensioner” should not live in a high-rise building.
Despite the requests of her family, it later placed her near the top of 24-storey block and threatened to remove her from the council housing list if she refused the offer, the inquiry heard.
“The RBKC housing department formally recognised and stated that due to my mum’s disability and deteriorating health she should not be housed in a lifted property above the fourth floor,” Ms Aghlani said.
“I emphasise that was in 2003. Fourth floor, because that was her human right to escape, the right every single person should have.
“After being refused many suitable properties, after 16 years of waiting, she was rehoused in 2016 into flat 151 on the 18th floor of Grenfell Tower.
“By this point, my mum was partially sighted and could only get around with the aid of a tri-walker.”
She added: “The move to Grenfell was out of desperation and pressure from the council. She was to take Grenfell Tower or to be suspended from the allocations for one year.
“She was very upset by the new place, she hated it .”
Ms Afrasiabi died alongside her sister Fatemah Afrasiabi, 59, who was visiting from Iran when the tower block was consumed by fire.
But Fatemah’s grieving husband was forced to issue a statement via his son Mohammed Samimi after his visa application was rejected.
The Home Office’s refusal to let him into the country also means he has been unable to visit his wife’s grave, Mr Samimi said.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to remember my father, who could not come to the UK,” he told the inquiry.
“His visa application was refused, and he says that ‘I am spending my days and nights by the thought of my children and I want to be able to visit my wife’s grave’.”
The Independent reported last week that bereaved family members who were set to be core participants of the inquiry were still awaiting permission to enter the UK.
They included Karim Khalloufi, whose elder sister Khadija Khalloufi died in the fire. He had hoped to read out a “pen portrait” tribute to her on Wednesday but was unable to attend following delays to his visa application.
Mr Khalloufi waited months to hear back from immigration officials after applying in December for a visa, which was eventually granted last week shortly after The Independent approached the Home Office.