Boris’ girlfriend barred from the US

 

Carrie Symonds has been barred from visiting the US because of a previous visit to Somaliland, it has been reported.

The 31-year-old had applied for a visa to go the US in a few days for work, but American authorities are said to have blocked the request over the five-day visit she made to East Africa.

Carrie Symonds visited Somaliland last year. Picture: Twitter
Carrie Symonds visited Somaliland last year. Picture: Twitter

She is now said to be in a race against time to sort the problem out, in what appears to be an embarrassing blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Ms Symonds went to the country with her friend Nimco Ali, a campaigner against female genital mutilation, who was born in Somaliland - which broke away from neighbouring Somalia in 1991.

The pair met with self-declared Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi to discuss sea pollution and women's issues.

The UK is one of a few countries that have diplomatic relations with Somaliland and is one of eight countries that recognise its passports - and the US does not.

It is unclear if Ms Symonds applied for an US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (Esta), but if she did then her travel history would have appeared.

An Esta is an automated system that decides if tourists can enter the US for 90 days without a visa as long they don't pose a security risk.

One question that was added to the Esta form in 2016 asks: "Have you travelled to, or been present in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011?"

Answering yes could see the Esta application rejected.

She was planning to visit the US as part of her job with Oceana - a non-profit organisation aiming to protect the world's oceans.

 

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson cannot help his girlfriend out of this pickle. Picture: AP
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson cannot help his girlfriend out of this pickle. Picture: AP

Ms Symonds is now reportedly in a race against time as she cannot ask Downing Street to intervene on her behalf because she does not have her own staff.

When she moved into No10, officials said it would result in "no extra cost to the taxpayer".

A diplomatic source told The Daily Mail: "We are hopeful this can be sorted out in time for Ms Symonds to go to the US as planned."

Ms Symonds and Downing Street both declined to comment.

The Somali region has been plagued with violence from terror groups al-Qaeda and Al Shabaab.

In 1993, Somalian forces killed 18 US Special Forces soldiers after shooting down two Black Hawk helicopters in the capital Mogadishu.

The story was later dramatised in the 2001 film Black Hawk Down.

US President Donald Trump has also sparked controversy after telling Somali-born US Representative Ilhan Omar to "go back" to her country.

Mr Johnson will not be travelling with Ms Symonds to the US as he will be attending the G7 in France this weekend.

The couple carried out their first engagement at No10 last week when they met guests from six hospices.

Mr Johnson was born in New York, but in 2016 he renounced his US citizenship after reportedly being hit with a five-figure tax bill by US authorities.

 

Carrie Symonds, former director of communications for the Tory party, is Boris Johnson’s partner. Picture: Supplied
Carrie Symonds, former director of communications for the Tory party, is Boris Johnson’s partner. Picture: Supplied

WHY IS SOMALILAND ON THE US BLACKLIST?

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991, following a civil war.

It has governed itself for 28 years, but other nations such as the US and UK view it as an autnomonous region of Somalia rather than a independent country.

The modern-day Somaliland region used to be a British Protectorate from 1884 to 1940. Somalia was one of the nations targeted by Donald Trump's travel ban on Muslim-majority countries.

In 1993, Somalian forces shot two Black Hawk helicopters resulting in the deaths of 18 Special Forces troops.

Somaliland officials have been campaigning to be exempt from the travel ban.

The UK Foreign Office warns Brits should avoid travelling to Somalia and Somaliland with the exception of the Somaliland capital of Hargesia and Berbera.

 

This story first appeared in The Sun and has been republished here with permission.



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