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Bibihal Uzbeki from Kunduz, Afghanistan, rests in Croatia's main refugee camp at Opatovac, Croatia on October 27, 2015.
Bibihal Uzbeki from Kunduz, Afghanistan, rests in Croatia's main refugee camp at Opatovac, Croatia on October 27, 2015. Credit: Marjan Vucetic

'World's oldest refugee' suffers stroke after asylum rejection

Journalist: It was very sad to see this woman unable to speak.
3:04 min

A 106-year-old woman hailed as “the world’s oldest refugee” suffered a debilitating stroke after her asylum application was rejected in June, according a Swedish journalist who visited her on Friday.

Bibikhal Uzbeki was hailed as “the world’s oldest refugee” when she was found in a camp in Croatia at the height of Europe’s refugee crisis in 2015.

She is now bedridden and unable to speak or have any type of communication with her children and grandchildren, said Nils Resare, an editor at Blankspot.

“It was very sad to see this woman,” he told Radio Sweden. “When the international press met her in Croatia in 2015, they were able to talk to her and she could talk about where they came from and about her life. Now, she couldn’t communicate at all.”

Resare said that the woman’s grandchildren, who can speak Swedish after spending more than a year in school, claimed the stroke hit Uzbeki almost the moment she understood that her asylum request as well as the asylum requests of her family members had been denied.

The family now faces being deported back to their home town of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan.

Uzbeki was still able to communicate when interviewed in March 2016 by the local paper, Skaraborgs Länstidning. At the time, she was living at an asylum centre in Lundsbrunn.

“I’m happy that my children and grandchildren are here and that they are safe,” she said while the family's cases were pending. “That’s the most important thing for me.”

The family has now filed an appeal against the decision and are waiting to find out if Sweden’s asylum court will take up the case.

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