After eight years of a rigorous resettlement process at Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, Dahabo Hashi and her five children were due to travel to South Dakota on 10 March. Civil war in Somalia had forced them to flee to Dadaab. But their plans to start a new life in the US are now on hold, after President Donald Trump last week signed a new executive order banning travel from six Muslim-majority countries.
This is the second time that Hashi’s family has been hit by the US president’s travel ban. On 27 January, as their flight was being booked, they were told that all travel arrangements had been cancelled.
When US federal courts blocked Trump’s executive order in February, Hashi was among hundreds of Somali refugees in Kenya who were cleared for travel. But the new revised order means that their case is again on hold – at least for 120 days while the US refugee resettlement programme is suspended.
“There is nowhere else to turn. We have been enduring a very tough and long process for years, hoping one day to escape the harsh life of the refugee camp, only to be told we cannot move at the last minute. It is devastating.”
Hashi arrived in Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, in 1991 following the civil war in Somalia. She was among the lucky few who received the opportunity for resettlement from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in 2009.
Although the US is a favourite destination for refugees, it has a very tough and lengthy screening process, involving extensive background checks by multiple federal security agencies.
According to the US state department, “Refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks for any category of traveller to the United States.”
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