Halima with son Adan, shot dead by militia before he could leave Somalia
Published: 22 June, 2012
by ANDREW JOHNSON
A WOMAN who fled the Somalian civil war 12 years ago has launched a desperate last-ditch appeal to bring the rest of her family to the UK after her son was murdered in a roadside shooting just months after being refused permission to enter Britain.
Halima Mohammed arrived in the UK in 2000 with her two youngest children, who were toddlers at the time, after the government granted many Somali refugees exceptional leave to remain here. She now lives in Cornelia Street, Holloway, and works as a cleaner at City University in Goswell Road.
She has a lot to be grateful to Britain for. But such is the contradictory nature of the UK’s immigration laws that, even though it was recognised that Halima, 48, and her two children were in grave peril, the same consideration was not given to her older children – Lilvan, then 13, Adan, 11, and Sahra, 9.
Her half-brother, Hasan, then aged 8, was also left behind, as was her husband, who later went missing and is presumed killed.
For the last decade Halima, with the help of her MP, Emily Thornberry, has been trying to bring the rest of her family to the UK.
While Sahra’s application was eventually granted on appeal because she was a minor, the applications by Adan, Lilvan and Hasan failed as they are now classed as adults.
In November last year, Adan, now 20, was shot dead by militia shortly after Halima had been to visit him.
“I found out from a phone call from Dhobley, a village in Somalia where they were living,” Halima says. “It was a friend of my son’s. My daughter heard the message first and she called me. I was on the bus on the way home from work. The shock was so great I forgot where I lived. I was crying so much. I went to the police station and fainted. They had to call an ambulance for me.”
Ms Thornberry added that Adan was driving in a car with two friends when he was stopped by al-Shabaab – an offshoot of al-Qaeda – stripped of their t-shirts and shot, once in the head and once in the heart.
Just four months earlier his final appeal to come to the UK had been rejected.
Now, in Refugee Week, Ms Thornberry is calling for help to bring the two remaining members of Halima’s family to the UK.
Lilvan, now 24 and Hasan, 19, are living under a tree in Dhobley. The Labour MP says that the clock is ticking because the government is changing asylum rules so that only disabled adult members of families who need constant care will be permitted to enter the country.
“She told the courts for 10 years how dangerous it is, and that her family are in danger, but the courts just didn’t believe her,” Ms Thornberry said.
“So we need to get the application in by July 8. The family needs to pay for the application and pay for these two boys to leave Dhobley to go to the British Embassy in Kenya to make the application and give their fingerprints and biometrics. And the application fee is quite expensive. They need $3,500 which is about £2,300.
“So today I’m launching an appeal. We have a bank account open and would ask people to help reunite this family. Islington has space to reunite a family like this. It is the right thing to do. I’d really like people to show their support by making a donation and writing to Home Secretary Theresa May and copying me in.”
If you can help, call Ms Thornberry’s office on 020 7697 9307 or donate money to the appeal’s Co-operative Bank account: 65545267 sort code 08-92-99.