The National News
Friday July 30, 2021
A Somali woman whose father and brother were murdered by the Islamist militant group Al Shabab faces deportation from Denmark.The decision follows a similar spate of deportation orders of Syrian refugees living in Denmark, which has drawn widespread criticism from local and international rights groups.
After more than five years legally living in the Scandinavian country, immigration authorities told Xafsa Mole, 25, she was no longer eligible for asylum after deeming her hometown now safe.
Ms Mole was 19 when a leader from Al Shabab in Somalia asked to marry her. When she said no, her would-be suitor sent armed men to her home killing her father, oldest brother and badly injuring her mother.
After overcoming the traumatic event and finding safety in Denmark for the past five years, Ms Mole may be forced to face her perpetrators once more.
Speaking to The National from Kerteminde, a tiny and sheltered town in central Denmark where she currently lives, she relayed her troubling story.
Ms Mole hails from a similarly small and agricultural town in Somalia called Jamaame. Located in the southern Lower Juba region of Somalia, her hometown has been largely under the control of Al Shabab, which has links to Al Qaeda, since the insurgent group’s military campaigns to introduce strict religious law in the country began a decade ago.
Ms Mole found out the severe consequences of rejecting Al Shabab and after the attack on her family she knew the militants would not leave her alone. In mourning and fearing for her life, she fled Somalia as soon as she could. “I just wanted to be safe,” she said.
After engaging a smuggler, Ms Mole found herself on the road for an unknown number of weeks travelling through many unknown countries until she reached Denmark in mid-October 2014.
A year later Ms Mole was free to start a new life free from danger. “I was in a refugee camp for one year but then my asylum application was accepted and I felt happy and safe,” she said.
In the five and a half years since she arrived in the Scandinavian country, Ms Mole has learned the language, made friends, been employed and is currently nearing the end of a year-long programme to train as a social and health assistant.
It was all the more shocking, therefore, when, after failing to get her residency renewed as usual this year, Ms Mole received a letter on July 7 from Danish Authorities telling her she was being deported to Somalia within 30 days.
She has appointed a lawyer but does not know what she will do when August 8 arrives. She’s fearful of either scenario: the police who might come knocking on her door in Denmark or the gunmen who she expects will do the same in Somalia.
‘How can I go back to a place where my family is still hunted? I know they will come back for me,” Ms Mole said of the militants her family still hide from.
She isn’t even sure where family members live right now and her eldest surviving brother has ominously gone missing. Returning to Jamaame feels like an inevitable death sentence.
Denmark has been on a rampant drive to revoke residencies of asylum seekers it considers no longer in need of protection. After deeming the Syrian capital of Damascus and its surrounding areas ‘safe’, Danish authorities have been cancelling residencies of Syrians young and old and telling them to return home.
Given that there are no official diplomatic relations between Syria and Denmark, any deportations of Syrians would have to be voluntary, however refusal to do so means living in a very restrictive deportation centre in Denmark. Some 1,200 Syrians in Denmark are believed to be affected by the hostile policy, but they are not the only people feeling threatened.
Despite ongoing international military operations to quash Al Shabab’s presence in parts of Somalia, Danish authorities claim Ms Mole's hometown is now ‘safe' enough for her to return.
The two countries do have diplomatic relations, meaning her deportation order could actually send her packing to what she says is inevitable danger or worse, death.
In 2018, hundreds of Somalis in Denmark had their permits revoked under a similar scheme. Some successfully appealed and stayed but, according to the Danish Refugee Council, many left and have disappeared, possibly to live without status in another country, something Ms Mole is not considering.
"It took me time to build a life here and I don't speak another language so what would I do in another country?” she said.