Kate Meehan Africa

Ahmad’s Story

Ahmad, a 32-year old Somali from Mogadishu, grew up in a Somalia that already torn by violence and instability. As a university student in 2006, Ahmad had the opportunity to work with a nongovernmental organization providing assistance to internally displaced persons. One day, he and his colleagues were summoned before a committee and accused of disseminating Western propaganda. He was arrested on the spot.

When he was released four days later, he fled Mogadishu with his wife and their newborn son. They traveled by road and when that was no longer possible, they went on foot until they found themselves in Ethiopia. After several months, Ahmad decided to travel ahead of his family to Malawi, where he hoped to find a home for his family. He successfully obtained refugee status there and found work as a car broker.

Just when things seemed to turn in his favor, Ahmad was arrested by local security agents and deported to Ethiopia within days. After hours of interrogation, Ahmad was transferred back to Malawi, where immigration authorities informed him that he was unwelcome in Ethiopia.

Back in Malawi, he was held in police custody and spent over six months in detention before being brought to the Tanzanian border and abandoned in a no man’s land between the two countries. There, Ahmad was picked up by the UNHCR and brought to Tanzania, where he has remained since.

When Ahmad’s first application for refugee status was denied in Tanzania, he approached Asylum Access for help to return to Malawi. This made his case more complicated for the authorities, and Ahmad survived on UNHCR’s support for food and shelter as he awaited a second decision. When this ended after two years, Asylum Access Tanzania successfully advocated for continued assistance on Ahmad’s behalf.

In 2012, Ahmad finally received UNHCR refugee status after a journey that spans six years and four countries. Our individualized legal services empowered Ahmad to respond effectively to the first wrongful denial of refugee status and right to seek safety from persecution. Today, our legal advocates continue to meet with Ahmad for follow-up legal counsel as he awaits resettlement. Ahmad hopes to soon be reunited with his family.