Raped refugee cannot bring family to UK

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A SOMALI woman who was raped and beaten by government forces before fleeing to Britain has been refused political asylum and told she cannot bring her family here even though she says they are in grave danger.

Faduma, 27, has been given exceptional leave to remain for a year, denying her the automatic right to fly her mother, four brothers and sister to London. She appealed to the Home Office, saying that her father had been killed and her family risked the same fate, but was turned down.

Refugee organisations say the decision to refuse Faduma's application highlights an unwritten Home Office policy aimed at restricting the number of Somalis arriving in Britain. Claude Moraes, director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: 'We have argued that family unity is a part and parcel of a humane attitude. Clearly the Government does not believe that.'

This week, at the bed and breakfast accommodation that has been her home since she came to England in 1990, Faduma asked for her identity to be disguised. If it was known she had been raped, she would be a 'lost person'.

She described the day four years ago when she last saw her family. She had been shopping in the market place in Hargeisa, a town in the north of the country, when civil war broke out around her. After sheltering in a shop for a night, she was captured by government troops and assaulted over a two day period before getting free and making her way to the border with Djibouti, she said. From there, she arrived in London via Egypt and Algeria. Her family fled in the opposite direction, going south to Mogadishu and then Nairobi in Kenya. Her father was shot during the journey, apparently because someone believed him to be an Ethiopian spy.

And her mother's problems were far from over when she got to Kenya. Earlier this month, she was threatened with deportation to Somalia along with her five children. According to Faduma, this would be tantamount to a death sentence. She says her mother is now hiding in Nairobi but has no documents. Observers who have been in Kenya recently confirmed that Somalis were being sent back, especially if they lacked official documentation.

A Home Office spokesman yesterday denied the Government had a policy of refusing asylum in order to prevent refugees' families coming to Britain.