Devastation at murder of young Albanian man who came to city for 'dream life'

The Albanian community in Sheffield has been left devastated at the murder of a young man who moved to the city for a ‘dream life’.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 6:21 am

Armend Xhika was stabbed to death when violence flared on the streets of Sheffield last Thursday night.

The 22-year-old was caught up in fighting involving a group of men, with one brawl reported on Earl Marshal Road, Fir Vale and another on Kirton Road, Pitsmoor, a short time later.

Armend was dropped off outside A&E at the Northern General Hospital in a car which then drove off while medics battled to revive him.

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Armend Xhika was stabbed to death in Sheffield

A friend today revealed that Armend was in the UK illegally and moved to Sheffield, where his sister is also believed to live, for a better life for him and his family back in Albania.

Less than three years later his life was tragically cut short in a knife attack.

The friend said young Albanians desperate to escape the poverty of their home country have been known to pay up to £26,000 for illegal entry into the UK.

They either end up in debt to banks, friends and relatives in Albania or the criminal gangs which offer them a route into the UK, he said.

Armend’s friend said he used to work a number of jobs to make ends meet.

He said: “Armend’s death needs to make a difference and to get people to realise just what is happening in Sheffield.

“In Albania, work is so rare that people often have to pay thousands of pounds just to get a job and even then they work really long hours and only make around £300 to put food on the table, support families and pay for medical care. They live in extreme poverty.

“The younger generation do not want that and come to the UK for the dream life, like Armend, so that he could support his family and have a better life here.”

He warned that criminal gangs are exploiting young people like Armend in Sheffield, knowing they have no official paperwork for legitimate jobs.

“If people are in debt and desperate for money because they have no paperwork for official support, they can be exploited,” the friend said.

“The authorities need to look at the young Albanian generation and offer them support and advice before any more lives are lost because of people ending up with the wrong kind of people.”

Five arrests have been made so far as part of the police probe into the murder.

He said he expects a crowdfunding appeal will be launched to help Armend’s family pay for his body to be repatriated to his home country for burial.

A man in his 30s who was arrested on suspicion of murder has been released under investigation.

A second man in his 30s and a man in his 20s, who were also arrested on suspicion of murder, have been released from custody without charge along with a man in his 20s arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and a woman in her twenties arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

South Yorkshire Police said: “Mr Xhika came to the UK in 2018. We have enquiries ongoing to determine his status.”

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