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Refugees

Trump's travel ban leaves Somali refugees stranded

Thousands of Somali refugees who were to resettle in the US have been left in despair following Trump’s ban on immigration. The US president has barred nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia.

At least 100 US-bound Somali refugees are stranded in Kenya after US President Donald Trump issued a travel ban. Trump's order suspended the US entry of nearly all refugees for 120 days and prohibits citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days. On Friday evening, a US Federal judge suspended the ban nationwide but President Trump has vowed to overturn the ruling.

Salad Rage Salah, one of the Somali refugees who remains stranded at the transit center of the International Organization from Migration (IOM) in Kenya's capital Nairobi, said the ban had left him with no clue about where to turn to next. "I have no life. No hope."

Salah said he had been looking forward to travelling to the United States after being admitted as a refugee. "I wanted to be a truck driver, to provide for my family," Salah told dpa. All his travel documents and his visa were ready. He had even undergone a medical check-up. But President Donald Trump's travel ban changed everything.

The Somali national is not alone. Scores of others like him, who were preparing to fly to the US, are now crammed at the IOM transit center. They had left nearly everything behind and now they have nowhere to go.

Life as a refugee

Salah grew up in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, considered the world's largest. Dadaab currently shelters nearly 300,000 refugees, most of them from Somalia. Salah's parents fled Somalia when he was only two, after the fall of President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Anti-Trump Demonstration in London (Reuters/N. Hall)

Trump's travel ban is facing increasing opposition from around the world

The 29-year-old was relocated to Kakuma, Kenya's second largest refugee camp, following the death of his parents. He was 18 at that time and dreamed of life in the US, having lived most of his life in refugee camps. In 2012, it seemed that Salah's dream had come true when he was given the go ahead to travel to the US.

On January 23, Salah left Kakuma with a suitcase weighing 25 kilograms. That is what US authorities had permitted him to bring to his new destination in Kansas. All his other belongings were left in the care of his friends at the camp.

Travel ban implications

Trump's order has forced the IOM to cancel "all flights for refugees till further notice," said Christelle van Rosmalen, resettlement officer at the UN refugee agency UNHCR at Dadaab.

Yvonne Ndege, another official with UNHCR, recently told the Daily Nation, 26,000 people had been listed for processing and resettlement in the US. More than half of that number is from Dadaab refugee camp.

Back at the IOM transit center, Salah went through a security check to ensure his suitcase did not contain anything which is not permitted on board, such as weapons or explosives. But this security control was not for a US-bound flight; Salah was taking a short flight back to Kakuma.

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Upon his arrival, he said via phone that he had received his meal card which entitles him to food rations. The bad news though, is that his friends had sold his mattress, as well as the corrugated roofing of his hut. He wasn't sure where he would spend the night.

 

cm (dpa, AP)

 

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