Belfast Telegraph

Somalian man wins legal battle to stay in Northern Ireland

A Somalian man who fears persecution by Islamic militants has won a High Court battle in his bid to remain in Northern Ireland.

Omaar Ismail claims he has no family left in Mogadishu and would be isolated and exposed to danger if forced to return.

A judge ruled that the 51-year-old's failed asylum application must be reconsidered based on assertions that his parents are now dead.

Mr Ismail says that he fled with his wife and children to Kenya in 2002, placing them in a refugee camp before he travelled on alone to London a year later.

He sought asylum amid fears that belonging to a minority clan would lead to persecution by militant group al-Shabab.

When his initial application was refused in 2003 he remained in the United Kingdom, stating that he arrived in Northern Ireland at the end of 2017.

Describing himself as an "absconder", he said that he depended on friends and charity, being provided with food and clothing in exchange for acting as an informal interpreter.

"I was very embarrassed that I did not have status and terrified that I could be returned to Somalia," he stated.

"I hoped that in Belfast I would be treated more fairly because I would not meet the same Home Office staff as before."

Judicial review proceedings were brought after a renewed bid for asylum, based on further submissions, was refused February 2018.

The court heard Mr Ismail last had contact with his wife and children in 2005.

He claims his parents died before he fled Somalia, and that he would not be welcomed back by his minority clan because he is seen as "illegitimate".

If he returned there after 15 years away he would be isolated, vulnerable and at risk of serious harm, according to his case.

Lawyers for the Secretary of State argued that there was no proof Mr Ismail's parents had actually died.

But citing the passage of time since the first screening interviews in 2003, together with the potentially serious consequences, Mr Justice Colton said consideration should have been given to the possibility they are no longer alive.

He held: "If it were accepted as true that the reason the applicant no longer has a nuclear family in Mogadishu is because he parents have died this may well have had a material bearing on the decision actually made."

Quashing the decision to refuse the asylum claim, the judge ordered a re-assessment of Mr Ismail's application.

He added: "In particular the decision-maker should consider the impact of the applicant's case that in fact his parents are deceased and the consequences that has for his claim." ends

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