09/30/2015 04:12 EDT | Updated 09/30/2016 05:12 EDT

Canada Approves Refugee Claim For Somali Man Who Swam Across Red River

Tom Szczerbowski via Getty Images
WINNIPEG, MB - JUNE 15: An aerial view of the Winnipeg skyline by the Red River on June 15, 2013 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
WINNIPEG — A Somali man who swam across the Red River thinking it was the border between the United States and Canada has had his refugee claim accepted.

The Immigration and Refugee Board told 32-year-old Yahya Samatar at a hearing in Winnipeg today that his claim was accepted.

Samatar can now apply to be a permanent resident, a process that could take more than a year.

At that time, he will be able to bring his wife and four children to Canada.

Samatar was a human rights worker in Somalia, was kidnapped and fled after his life was threatened by terrorist group Al Shabab.

It took him a year to reach Canada — first he flew from Somalia to Brazil, then hiked through the jungle to Colombia, then up through Central America and to the United States, where he was detained, then headed north.

He found himself on the shore of the Red River.

Although he wasn't exactly sure where he was, he believed crossing the river would land him on Canadian soil so he jumped in and swam across through the fast and frigid waters, wondering if he would encounter crocodiles as he would in rivers at home.

Emerging on the other side, Samatar walked across several farms before meeting a Good Samaritan who gave him clothes and linked him with the Canadian Border Services Agency.

(CTV Winnipeg)


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