Ifrah Ahmed was born in Somalia, and fled the outbreak of war in 2006 at the age of 17. She escaped traffickers and was granted asylum in Ireland. Since settling in Ireland, she has devoted her life to helping eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and providing integration support to newly arrived youth migrants and refugees from Africa in Ireland. Ifrah began supporting UNHCR in 2014 and became a High Profile Supporter in 2020.
In 2010, Ifrah established The United Youth of Ireland, an NGO that provides support to young immigrants and refugees in establishing businesses, assisting them in settling in Ireland, and educating young people about the importance of human rights. Having been a victim of FGM, Ifrah established The Ifrah Foundation in Ireland in 2010, where she advocates for the eradication of FGM in Somalia. In 2012, she succeeded in the establishment of legislation banning the practice in Ireland.
Film has been a central tool in Ifrah’s advocacy work. In January 2020, the film A Girl from Mogadishu, based on Ifrah’s childhood, premiered at the Edinburgh film festival. The film is about her life living in a refugee camp in Somalia, where she was born and subjected to FGM and then trafficked as teenager, and eventually given political asylum in Ireland. The film was awarded both the Audience and Jury prize at the Semaine de Cinema Britannique. In 2018, Ifrah made a short documentary about a 10-year-old girl who bled to death after undergoing FGM. The documentary went viral, resulting in Somali parents taking their daughters who had undergone FGM to hospitals. Ifrah appeared in the UNHCR six-part series Too Much Pain: The voices of refugee women in 2014.
Ifrah has passionately advocated against Tahriib (irregular movement), including in an interview with Somali Cable TV where she spoke about the importance of bringing awareness on the dangers of irregular movement. She expressed how heartbreaking it is to “listen to a mothers cry for the loss of her son in such a treacherous journey”. In 2017, Ifrah participated in UNHCR campaign Dangerous Crossings, which raised awareness about the risks in crossing to and through Yemen from Somalia.