Seeking asylum, again

الأربعاء 27 كانون الثاني 2016


Hudan Al-Sheikh, a thirty year old refugee from Somalia who speaks only broken Arabic, spoke to 7iber about her experience seeking refuge in Jordan, after completing a similar journey from her home city of Mogadishu to Yemen years earlier.

Hudan fled Mogadishu in 1997 at the age of 15 after her entire family was killed. Alone, Hudan crossed the Mandab Strait to Yemen with her neighbors in a sea journey that lasted four days. In Yemen, Hudan married a Somali man and gave birth to her first son Mohamed, diagnosed with mental retardation, in 2002. Two years later, Hudan welcomed her second son Mahdi.

The family lived in Yemen for 15 years, in which time Hudan worked cleaning homes to provide for her children. UNHCR recognized Hudan as a refugee, while her two sons, Mohamed and Mahdi, received Yemeni citizenship.

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When violence broke out in the streets in 2013, in the aftermath of the Yemeni revolution, Hudan fled with her children to Amman. Now the family receives 160JD per month from UNHCR, 90 of which she spends on rent for an apartment she and her sons share with a young woman who helps with rent. Hudan refused to allow us to visit her home out of fear that we would annoy her neighbors.

Mohamed’s disability has no treatment, according to his mother. Meanwhile, Mahdi consistently attends the local public school in Jebel Amman, although he says he is bullied by the “boys” in the neighborhood.

Mahdi described himself to 7iber in a few short sentences: “I’m twelve years old. I’m in the fifth grade at the Abdalia School. Whenever I go to school, the boys beat me up and then I go home. That’s it.” Mahdi’s mother attributes the bullying to his Somali ethnicity.

Hudan and her family have yet to receive either an acceptance or a denial of their request for resettlement abroad. Nevertheless, she is desperately awaiting an acceptance decision and refuses to return to Somalia. “I’m tired and I can’t go back to Somalia. Life there is not right. The situation is very bad.”