Refugee who left the UK for holiday stranded in Africa for 16 years

Ali had permission to stay in the UK indefinitely

westminster [File] Palace of Westminster | Wikimedia Commons

Saleh Ahmed Handule Ali, a refugee from Somalia, left the UK for a holiday as a teen in 2008. He is still stranded in East Africa, according to a Guardian report. Ali arrived in the UK in 2000, as a nine-year-old with his mother and two younger siblings. They had followed his father, who had been granted refugee status by the UK government. 

The UK government gave him a travel document in 2004, which was valid for ten years. In 2008, when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, Ali's family took him to Djibouti, with the hope that the warmer climate will help him recover.

Currently 33, Ali had permission to stay in the UK indefinitely, but the Ministry of Internal Affairs did not keep records. Sometime after Ali reached Djibouti, he lost his travel document, which made it difficult for him to return to the UK. He went to Ethiopia and attempted to get help from the embassy, but it didn't work. 

His mother, who resides in Bristol, said that she had saved money over the years to hire a lawyer to bring her son back home. Senior judges and lawyers have called the case 'extraordinary', the Guardian reported. Ali has been living undocumented in Ethiopia for about 16 years now, unable to work, and surviving on money his mother sends him.

The judgement, which appealed against the refusal of Ali's case and remitted it to the upper tribunal, referred to information coming to light in 2017 that the Home Office had no information on its system of Ali having been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, said, “Quite how this could have happened … is difficult to comprehend.”

“Our client understandably has suffered immensely, including from mental health and destitution, whilst living in African countries of Djibouti and Ethiopia in the hope of returning to his home and family in the UK,” Khalid Khashy of Pristine Law, who represents Ali, told the Guardian.

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