Crew Member Helps Asylum Seeker to Fled Dubai Fearing her Life

Feb 13, 2019

The story of the Emirati woman Hind Mohammed Albolooki, who fled her family in Dubai fearing for her life, made headlines around the world. The 42-year-old mother of four children reports that she fled Dubai after her influential family threatened her. She informs that the threat was ignited due to her requesting divorce from her husband. The Guardian and CNN, report that family members locked her in a room at her home in Dubai in October of last year. However, she managed to escape from captivity and flee the country with the help of an unexpected friend. 

Albolooki was assisted in her escape by a friend she met on a cruise ship several years prior. Native Macedonian Nenad Dimitrov was working on the cruise ship while Albolooki was vacationing with her family. They became great friends and visited each other in both Dubai and Macedonia since. Dimitrov reported that in October Albolooki contacted him asking for help to flee Dubai. Albolooki requested Dimitrov to purchase a flight ticket to Macedonia because she was afraid to use her credit card.  Dimitrov reported to CNN that "when she asked for help she was in Bahrain and said, “I don't have anyone to go to, can you help me get tickets?" The young man didn’t hesitate in helping his friend and booked a flight to the Republic of Macedonia. 

Crew Center contacted Dimitrov and inquired about the reasons he decided to help when many would hesitate when such influential family is involved. Dimitrov responded with a true humanistic nature ‘’as a true friend fearing for her life, I decided to help her flee. Knowing her family, they are willing to do everything to bring her back and keep their high-status reputation in Dubai. I’m terrified of the thought that she might be locked away or killed if she goes back. It’s in my nature to help people as I have helped many from my country to find a job on cruise ships and helped them in any way I can in any situation.’’ 

In an article of Civil Media, the human rights activist Mersiha Smailovic informs that Albolooki chose Macedonia because it was one of the few countries where she can travel without a visa, and moreover, the country recently ratified the Istanbul Convention. It was imperative that in November of 2018 she sought salvation in this country located in the heart of Europe. Albolooki arrived in the capital of Macedonia, Skopje, on October 4 the same year and after two weeks she applied for asylum. 

Unfortunately, the story of Albolooki and her search for salvation has encountered a road block. Upon requesting asylum in Macedonia with hopes of assuring her own safety, she received information in February of this year that is was denied by the Macedonian authorities. The reasoning for the denial have been reported as "no reason to believe that, should she return to Dubai, she would be faced with a real risk of serious injury." Albolooki reports that ‘’two months I am in the refugee center because authorities believe I am a danger to the security of Macedonia and that they must place me in custody while I wait for the final decision of the Macedonian court. I started to shake with fear and rage. How can I, a woman, a mother, be a danger to Macedonia? Which law have I violated? Why the detention, is not the asylum claim my human right, am I not a victim of domestic violence and threats? Am I not protected in this country?’’ 

The decision by the Macedonian authorities is presently being questioned by the media whether it is a decision based on facts and reports made by the one seeking asylum or due to potential diplomatic pressure and influences by Albolooki’s powerful family from the UAE. This quandary rose from the expedition of the decision in such a short period of time made by the Macedonian authorities. Macedonia is well acquainted with political, war and other forms of asylums requested by many who have in the past sought refuge in this country over the course of many wars on the Balkans. The questioning by the media related to the background of the decision-making process lies in the expedition of the determination when historically this is not the case and experience of refugees in Macedonia.  The inquisitiveness continues as the Macedonian authorities have granted Albolooki 15-day grace period to voluntarily leave the country; however, she is still being held in Gazi Baba Refugee Detention Center from where she is not able to leave.

Detention center for refugees in Skopje, Macedonia

  • Photo Gazi Baba Refugee Detention Centre in Skopje

Albolooki is now attempting to seek asylum elsewhere, but detention is making this task even more challenging. In her most recent video posted on YouTube on February 4, 2019, she pleads for help ‘’please for help that any country will offer me a safe life. I am seeking for asylum in the USA, Australia, Canada, Germany or Sweden. Due to religion issues with my family and domestic abuse I had to run away from Dubai. I am in Macedonia Center for foreigners and I don’t have no media access.’’ Dimitrov continues to support his friend in need and advocates for her well-being as evident by the following: ‘’with our lawyers we are working to get her out from Detention Center and get her to safety.’’ Dimitrov is even working with one of the main activists in Macedonia, Angela Nikolovska, to raise awareness and support for Hind Mohammed Albolooki. Nikolovska reports that ‘’I’m very surprised that Hind case is gaining momentum and is 100% supported by the public and most of the media. Unfortunately, not from the institutions. But the people will decide what is right, I expect and will fight during the next week for Hind to be released so that she can leave the country and seek salvation in a country where there is normal rule of law functioning system. Thank you all for the support and share it massively.’’

On February 11, 2019 the Court in Strasbourg passed an interim measure mandating the Macedonian authorities to release Albolooki from custody to freely await the final decision on her request for asylum.  Albolooki reports with a sense of hope that ‘’I am waiting for the court in Macedonia to announce, hoping that it will now be quick in its decision as it was expeditious by rejecting my asylum application. In the meantime, I am waiting for the freedom to leave this country. My need for protection has been recognized by the countries in which the laws exist to be respected. In a country where human rights exist for all people!”

Crew Center would like to send warm wishes and hopes in the journey of safety and self-determination for Albolooki, as well as encourage members of the site to share and support a person in need. Crew Center would also like to further acknowledge the humanist and hero in this story, Dimitrov, as well as encourage people all over the world to seek help when needed and for people receiving the plea for help to approach such privilege with the same grace, humanity, decency and courage as Dimitrov did as we never know when it will be our turn to seek help from others.

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