Pontus Marine

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Somaliland: The plight of a British Immigration Service deportee in Hargeisa

(Medeshi)- By Janet Page - Somali by birth, Adan was brought to London as a small child but subsequently abandoned to be brought up in care. On leaving care, the Job Centre classified him as an asylum seeker which meant he was unable to work but the Refugee Council were unable to help him either as they believed him to be a British citizen.
 He received no benefits and for the next few years lived mainly in detention centres, whilst the Home Office sought to deport him, and latterly prison after acquiring a conviction for shoplifting. After serving his sentence, he was kept in detention for a further year whilst the Immigration Service sought once again to deport him.  This they did on 21 January giving him just a small sum of money to make a new life.

It was  very depressing. Frightened Adan then borrowed the guard's phone to call my daughter Frances in Switzerland to let her know that he was being deported that night on an Ethiopian Airways flight. Frances has been a friend to Adan for some ten years and can vouch for his good nature. Knowing him to be somewhat institutionalised by his life experiences and unused to looking after himself and possibly suffering from learning difficulties, she feared for his future.

As luck would have it, my other daughter Emma used to work for a non-government organisation with projects in Somaliland and was a regular visitor to Hargeisa a few years ago. Frances contacted her to see if there was anything she could do to help; and, as I have been a member of the Anglo-Somali Society for a number of years, I also contacted a senior member of the Society to see if he also could come up with any suggestions.  Both came up with the same contact name of someone working in Hargeisa. This gentleman kindly met up with Adan and persuaded the hotel manager to at least allow Adan to stay on a couple more nights in the hotel despite his having run out of money.

Since then, Frances has managed to get more money to him via Western Union. Fortunately she had just finished paying off her student loan, so for once was in a position to help.  The first thing Adan did with the money was to buy a meal.  At that time, I'm not sure how long he had been without food but he was a good deal more cheerful when he phoned Frances afterwards!

In the meantime, his situation remains dire. Adan is in a foreign country where the culture, food, way of life and climate are totally different to where he had been brought up and where he knows nobody; and there is no going back. He is struggling to understand the language. His papers have been stolen. He has no passport or birth certificate. He does not know who to trust. He has no particular skills and does not know how to go about making a living.  He sees a lot of people cooking and selling food at the side of the road but doesn't himself know how to cook. If there is anyone out there with knowledge of society in Somaliland who can suggest anything to assist him, I and my daughters and especially Adan will be very grateful.

Janet Page    janet@richardpage.org.uk