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Persecuted for Love: Somali Refugee Fahia Hassan Living On the Edge

Fahia Hussein Hassan is on the edge of life. Orphaned in infancy, forced into refuge, persecuted by her own kinsmen; she’s now been abandoned by authorities whose job is to secure people like her. She cries for help.

About six years ago, Fahia Hussein Hassan, a Somali national and Sadiq Bahati a Congolese refugee met in Kenya’s capital Nairobi as refugees.

Blinded by love and hope for a better future, they walked down the aisle marking the start of rapturous journey.

Their union bore fruits: two daughters, one now aged 2 and the other 4.

Their family life was promising; she got a well-paying job in Nairobi and the future seemed bright, until it wasn’t anymore.

Suddenly, everything turned for worse.

She was forced to abandoned her job at the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and flee to Uganda, as her life and those of her family members became increasingly endangered.

Her own kinsmen from Somalia started targeting her for marrying a non-Somali.

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“I was financially stable but I could not live in Nairobi because I was facing persecution. I went through a lot; I was sexually abused and I faced a lot of problems”, she narrates.

Her first few months in Kampala, she says, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and a one Douglas Asiimwe were supportive as they worked toward securing her a resettlement  in Canada.

In the meantime, she was sheltered in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement camp.

At the camp, however, she once again came under attack from her fellow Somalis over her forbidden union with her Congolese husband.

He had to be relocated to Kyaka.

“A Congolese is not a Somali of course because of the difference of our hair and nose, as you understand,” Mrs Hassan says.

“Our culture is more Arabic and it is a taboo in my tribe”

In Kyaka, things were no different. Her 2-year-old daughter, she says, was poisoned by her kinsmen. She has police and medical documentation for this.

As such, she requested for assistance from outsiders and she was given money by Inter Aid, a local NGO, to rent a house.

This little money, however could only push her for 2 months, after which she was thrown out of the house.

She’s now decided to camp outside the offices of the UNHCR offices in Kampala hoping for help.

Out in the cold, with her young children, all they have for shelter is a mosquito net.

“I was sleeping in cheap hotels where prostitution is ongoing. And you can see, I have a very young daughter and now the money is over and I am here.

“I am requesting help from UNCHR but nobody wants to listen to me and talk to me because they say they have given me resettlement to Canada.” Fahia says.

But with no clarity on whether and when the Canadian resettlement will be approved, Fahia says authorities should provide her with temporary shelter as she awaits her resettlement request to be approved.

“You can see I have two daughters, one aged 4 years and the other 2 years. They need to be in a warm place…. I am harassed by police every time. They have claimed they are going to snatch away my children. I am an orphan and my husband is an orphan,” she said.

“My children eat only once a day; we are being given money by good Samaritans. Somebody passes and gives me 1000 or 2000 and my child eats one Kikomando per day”

Fahia is now camped at the UNHCR offices in Kampala

Asked whether she can identify her attackers, Fahia stated that they are all Somalis, who appear to be executing orders from her foster family.

“My community, my community, my community are the ones who are persecuting me because I am married to non-Somali Guy” she said.

Her husband Sadiq Bahati too has taken injuries from attacks meted on him at Mengo.

When reached for a comment yesterday, Joel Boutrue the UNHCR Representative for Uganda threw the ball back to the Ugandan government.

“It’s not our responsibility to ensure law and order. It is our responsibility to approach authorities, when there are issues…so that refugees are protected”, Boutrue responded.

However, he made it clear that both the humanitarian agency and government are constrained on either side.

“Unfortunately we are not there because the police are sort of stretched. If you went to Kyaka for example which has around 110,000 refugees, we have I think 17 police officers”

 

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