Somali man loses Mandela Washington Fellowship to Ethiopian woman

A Somali man who had been accepted to join the Mandela Washington Fellowship in the US has lost the opportunity to an Ethiopian woman.

Abdiwasa Idiris Jelle, the founder of the Somali Youth Civic Organization, lost his place to Ethiopian Wengel Tessema Ayalew because he could not get a visa to the US.

“We became so sad and frustrated because we were ready to go there,” Jelle told The Indianapolis Star.

“I was very excited to be there and learn.”

Jelle is from Somalia, one of several Muslim-majority nations whose citizens are banned from entering the United States.

Last week, the US Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump’s ban on people from five Muslim-majority countries entering the United States.

Last year, Trump signed an executive order which restricted most travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

The Trump Administration accuses the countries on the ban list of having “a significant terrorist presence within their territory”.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship programme of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) which empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking.

The Ethiopian woman, Ayalew, described Jelle’s predicament as unfortunate.

“For someone who actually deserved a chance and who could have actually made a difference,” Ayalew said, “… just to be denied without specifically looking to his personal case, just to generalize about him.”

The US government has not yet commented on the Somali man’s case.

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