Advocates say the federal government has called off the deportation of a former child refugee to Somalia following a request from the United Nations.
The African Canadian Civic Engagement Council said Abdilahi Elmi, 34, is being held at the Edmonton Remand Centre and was to be deported on Monday.
The council said he arrived in Canada at the age of 10, was granted refugee status, and was later taken into foster care in Ontario.
Council president Dunia Nur said they received word the Canada Border Services Agency has put the deportation on hold.
“We are very thankful that Canada has accepted the United Nations’ recommendation and suggestion,” Nur said Friday in an interview.
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She said Elmi left Somalia as a child, has no family there and does not speak Somali.
“We were all scared for him. We were thinking as soon as he gets deported is he going to live longer than an hour?” she said.
“He was being deported to the world’s worst scariest and dangerous country.”
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Canada Border Services Agency officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Earlier this month the agency said it decided in June that Elmi should be deported to Kismayo, Somalia because he has committed “extensive crimes within Canada and is considered a danger to the public.”
His lengthy criminal record includes assault charges.
Elmi’s lawyer, Idowu Ohioze, said he received word from a CBSA enforcement officer about its decision in a terse email Friday afternoon.
“Hello, Mr. OHIOZE. Please be advised that the removal of ELMI scheduled for August 26, 2019 has been cancelled. Thank you. Mike Fraser #11987 Inland Enforcement Officer, Enforcement and Intelligence Operations Division.”
Ohioze said it is his understanding that the CBSA will now take up to 60 days to prepare a report for the UN on why it believes Elmi should be deported.
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He noted that people across Canada have been speaking out on Elmi’s behalf.
“He is very pleased and very grateful for the support he has received from the Canadian public,” he said.
“I will be working to see if he can be released from the remand centre.”