Stranded woman describes ordeal

A Commons committee heard tearful pleas Wednesday from a Canadian woman who was stranded for months in Kenya, accused of being an impostor.

Julian Falconer

OTTAWA — A Commons committee heard tearful pleas Wednesday from a Canadian woman who was stranded for months in Kenya, accused of being an impostor.

Suaad Hagi Mohamud wept openly as she told the foreign affairs committee how she was thrown into a small cell, where she encountered other women, some with children.

“I would never have believed that I would go to jail for saying that I am a Canadian citizen,” Mohamud told the committee.

She urged parliamentarians to find a way to prevent something similar happening to any other Canadian, and wondered aloud how many others still face a similar plight.

“Not everyone will be so lucky to have so much help (to return home),” she said.

“How many people are standing out there like I was?”

In fact, at least one other person is dealing with a similar situation.

Abdihakim Mohammed, an autistic 25-year-old Somali-Canadian has been unable to leave Kenya for three years, after officials determined that he didn’t look like his passport photo.

Mohamud, 31, arrived in Toronto last Saturday after DNA tests finally proved her identity.

She had been barred from leaving Kenya after authorities said her lips did not look the way they did in her four-year-old passport photo.

Mohamud is suing Ottawa for $2.5 million for her ordeal. Her supporters have also called for a public inquiry and apology from the federal government.

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