Third asylum seeker in Manitoba suffers severe frostbite

News source from CTV News

A renewed warning about frostbite and the dangerous journey some asylum seekers take to make it into Manitoba.

A man from the West African country of Togo is the third asylum seeker to have suffered severe frostbite on his hands after crossing the U.S.-Canada border on foot into Manitoba.

He made the crossing during the evening of Jan. 4. Temperatures dipped as low as – 28 degrees in Emerson that day.

“I feel the pain,” said Kangni Fiowole-Kouevi from his temporary home in Winnipeg. I sleep with difficultly. It’s not easy for me.”

The 36-year-old said he’s no longer safe in his home country because he converted to Christianity.

He said he took a cab from Minneapolis before walking in the dark for over four hours.

After losing feeling in his fingers, he tried to warm up in a shed and eventually managed to call 911.

Fiowole-Kouevi said emergency responders found him about 12 hours after his on-foot trek began.

“I feel too much bad when I am in the cold that night,” he said.

This isn’t the first case of an asylum seeker suffering severe frostbite. Last winter two men from another west African country lost fingers making a similar journey.

Karin Gordon takes in refugees and asylum seekers. She wants U.S. taxi drivers to stop dropping off asylum seekers in frigid temperatures.

Despite media reports and warnings from officials Gordon says most of the people crossing are from tropical countries and have never experienced extreme cold.

“The fella who drove him from Minneapolis and dropped him at the border. stripped him of 700 dollars and didn’t warm him about the cold,” said Gordon, who is the executive director of hospitality house refugee ministry.

Fiowole-Kouevi’s fear of death back home pushed him to persevere through the cold. With some movement in his hands, he says doctors are hopeful he’ll keep his fingers. His greatest dream now is to be granted refugee status and the right to stay in Canada.

The Emerson-Franklin Fire Department tells CTV News its responded to six border crossers in distress since the start of this year.

Immigration and Citizenship Canada numbers show that about 1,000 asylum seekers have crossed the U-S.-Canada border on foot into Manitoba in 2017.



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