Refugee who lost fingers in cold allowed to stay in Canada

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – A Ghanaian man who lost all his fingers to frostbite crossing into Canada from the United States to seek asylum, can remain in the country, a Canadian immigration and refugee board ruled on Tuesday.

Razak Iyal and Seidu Mohammed entered Canada on Christmas Eve, after walking for three hours and awaiting help for hours more in frigid temperatures.

On Tuesday, Iyal, 34, was granted refugee status in Canada by an Immigration and Refugee Board in Winnipeg. Mohammed argued his claim successfully in May.

“I’m feeling great, so happy,” Iyal said after his hearing. “Look what happened to me, to both of us. This changed our lives totally. Here is going to be my new home.”

More than 2,700 asylum seekers have walked into Canada since January, avoiding formal border crossings where they would be turned back under the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement. Those who cross without authorization, however, are entitled to receive an asylum hearing.

Many say they left the United States because they feared President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown.

A Ghanaian woman died of possible hypothermia in Minnesota in May trying to enter Canada, highlighting the risks migrants take.

Iyal left Ghana after multiple beatings and death threats related to a family dispute about his father’s estate. Mohammed, 25, a former professional soccer player in Ghana, said he was threatened there because of his bisexuality.

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