From the Toronto Star
Jul 15, 2009 04:30 AM
Strain marks the faces of family and friends as conditions deteriorate for a Toronto woman trapped in Kenya.
"I would like for them to bring my mom back," said 12-year-old Mohamed Asbscir yesterday at Lawrence Square mall, where he and his mother have habitually gone for treats on Saturday mornings.
"Can you imagine what he’s going through?" said neighbour and babysitter Shukri Abdi. "He’s worried his mother might never come home."
In Kenya, eight weeks after her passport was confiscated, the woman remains confined to her hotel with no travel papers and no money to pay police bribes if she is stopped without them.
"It’s too scary for me to go downstairs now," said the woman identifying herself as Suaad Hagi Mohamud. "I’m broke. I have no visa, no nothing. If I’m stopped they will take me to the jail."
Her calls to the Canadian High Commission went unreturned again yesterday, she said.
Ottawa officials refused to answer questions in a case that, from the outside, looks easy to resolve.
"If this were Somalia or some place else in Africa, we would understand," said North York Community House worker Maryan Ali, who is offering what support she can. "But this is unacceptable."
Mohamud, originally from Somalia, is waiting for fingerprint tests to confirm her identity.
She was returning to Toronto from Kenya eight weeks ago when a customs agent said she didn’t look like her passport photo.
She spent eight days in jail before being released on bail.
"I asked her, ‘How’s the jail?’ " recalled Abdi, tears welling in her eyes.
"She told me, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’ "
A working mother caring for five children of her own, Abdi agreed to look after Mohamed for three weeks and has now had him for more than two months.
The stranded woman’s passport was voided on May 28 by the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi. She pleaded to have her fingerprints taken, which finally happened last Thursday, she said.
All that foreign affairs officers in Ottawa have said publicly is that the woman is not the rightful owner of the passport she was carrying.
But there remain several unanswered questions: Who is the woman, if not Mohamud? Is she Canadian? Why are they not returning her calls? And how much longer will it take to get fingerprint results?
Ali said the case has attracted attention in the Somali community, and vowed to go to Ottawa to speak out on Mohamud’s behalf.