Woman stuck in Kenya seeks help for stress

From the Toronto Star Aug 05, 2009 04:30 AM

JOHN GODDARD
STAFF REPORTER

The Toronto woman going to extremes to prove her identity to Canadian officials in Africa is seeking psychological help.

Suaad Hagi Mohamud, 31, was detained at the airport in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi on May 21 while attempting to board a flight to Toronto. She was held for not looking like her four-year-old passport photo and spent eight days in jail.

Mohamud will see a doctor today in Nairobi to treat stress arising from, among other things, being jailed with killers at Langata Women’s Prison.

"The situation is better," Mohamud said of her living conditions after Toronto lawyer Raoul Boulakia paid to transfer her from a dangerous slum hotel to a more secure location.

"But I won’t be okay until I get back home and just be with my son."

The treatment will be paid for by humanitarian agency Eccoterra International, which is helping the stranded Canadian.

Meanwhile, Mohamud anxiously awaits the results of a DNA test to prove her identity.

All DNA material needed for the test was to arrive yesterday at the labs of Vancouver company Orchid Cellmark.

Ten days ago in Nairobi, DNA swabs were taken from Mohamud’s cheeks, and the samples sent by courier two days later.

The company would not confirm receipt of the samples, citing privacy reasons.

Meanwhile, a technician in Toronto took DNA swabs from the woman’s ex-husband and 12-year-old son. The samples were sent to Vancouver on Thursday, lawyer Boulakia said.

The samples will be compared to prove whether Mohamud is the boy’s mother and rightful holder of the passport she was carrying when she tried to fly to Toronto more than two months ago.

"Final results will be available within approximately five to seven business days (after the samples are received)," Orchid manager Shari McKendrick wrote July 21 in a letter filed with federal court.

Paying an extra fee can speed up the process, Orchid spokeswoman Jennifer Clay said.

But a spokesperson for Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) wouldn’t say whether the agency tried to expedite the process.

Since she was prevented from returning to Canada, Mohamud spent four days in airport custody, eight days in Langata prison and 11 weeks so far pleading with Canadian consular officials to check her references.

She produced more than a dozen pieces of Canadian identification, but Canadian officials voided her passport and turned her over to Kenyan police.

After Mohamud persuaded Canadian officials to take her fingerprints, they took two more days to make the appointment.

Officials then said they no longer had the file containing Mohamud’s fingerprints, taken during her immigration 10 years ago.

After Canada’s federal court ordered the government to test Mohamud’s DNA, an appointment was set, then delayed without explanation.

DNA testing is a "last resort" to verify the identity of somebody wishing to join a family member in Canada, says a CBSA policy manual. The manual does not mention DNA testing to verify the identity of a Canadian citizen.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/676265

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