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Mother: Stow-away Son was Trying to Reach Her in Africa


The mother of a Somali-American boy who stowed away in the wheel well of a plane that flew over the Pacific says her son was trying to reach her in Africa.

Ubah Mohamed Abdullahi says she is "very shocked" by her son's ordeal and "how he risked his life."

In an interview with VOA's Somali service, Abdullahi said her son, Yahya Abdi, had recently learned that she was alive, after being told by his father that she was dead.

U.S. investigators say the 16-year-old boy snuck onto an airport tarmac in San Jose, California, and climbed into the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines plane.

Investigators say he managed to survive extremely low temperatures and low oxygen during the more than five-hour flight to Hawaii, where he was taken into custody and hospitalized.

Abdullahi, who lives in a refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia, says she cried and felt bad when she learned about her son's ordeal. She says many people at the refugee camp offered her support.

Abdullahi said she is divorced from the boy's father, Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi, who lives in California with Yahya Abdi and the former couple's other two children.

Abdilahi Abdi spoke to VOA's Somali service in an exclusive interview, Wednesday. He said his son frequently talks about going back to Africa "where his grandparents still live."

Abdullahi said before Sunday's incident, she had not heard anything about the children since 2006. Abdullahi says her former husband had traveled to Mogadishu and took the children away without her knowledge.

Abdullahi said she had sought help from a man that knows her family and he had recently informed the children that she is alive.

Abdullahi said her "dream" is to live with her children in the United States because "Somalia is not safe to go back to."


4/25/14/ Mother Stowaway Act 1
"I cried, felt badly and many people in the refugee camp came to me to give me support. I felt bad that he risked his life and I understand that his father subjected harsh treatment to my son."

4/25/14 Mother Stowaway Act 2
"I was told that he did this because of me. I know his mentality. You know our kids. He was the smartest of them (the kids). I know how he could react."

4/25/14 Mother Stowaway Act 3
"Yes, I know he was looking for me and I am requesting the U.S. government to help me reunite with my kids."