Carrie Symonds ‘barred from entering the US over Somaliland trip’

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“Ayan Mahamoud, Head of the Somaliland Mission to the UK said, the country is an “independent, peaceful and stable” nation often wrongly confused with neighbours Somalia.”

20 August 2019 • 11:59pm

Boris Johnson’s girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, has been barred from visiting the US.

She had applied for permission to go to the US in the next few days as part of her job with environmental group Oceana but the request was blocked by the American authorities, the Daily Mail reported.

The situation could prove embarrassing for the Prime Minister, who is expected to meet US President Donald Trump at the G7 summit in France which begins on Saturday.

The problem with Ms Symonds’ travel plans could be linked to a trip to Somaliland last year.

The US does not recognise Somaliland as an independent country, instead viewing it as part of Somalia.

Applicants under the electronic system for travel authorisation (Esta) visa waiver programme, which allows Britons to spend up to 90 days in the US, are asked whether they have visited Somalia since March 2011.

Ms Symonds visited Somaliland last year with her friend Nimco Ali, a campaigner against female genital mutilation.

Following the reports of Ms Symonds’ travel difficulties, Ms Ali said on Twitter: “Somaliland is Africa’s best kept Secret, it’s my birth place and it’s stunning.

“For 28 years without international assistance we have rebuilt our Country and are the only democracy in the Horn of Africa. I am happy to personally show anyone around the land I was sourced from.”

Ms Symonds has no official role in Downing Street and no taxpayer-funded support, although she has been pictured at functions in Number 10 with Mr Johnson.

Downing Street declined to comment.

Ayan Mahamoud, Head of the Somaliland Mission to the UK said, the country is an “independent, peaceful and stable” nation often wrongly confused with neighbours Somalia.

She said: “We have a longstanding and positive relationship with the UK Government, and we have been proud to host members of the Government within the last 12 months, numerous Members of Parliament, and thousands of tourists from the UK every year.

“We continue to call on the UK Government to support our calls for international recognition and to support Somaliland as we seek to overturn the damaging and unjustified travel restrictions unfairly imposed on our citizens by the US Government.”

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