Community Talking Points: Somali Repatriation
KANERE talks to members of the Somali communities: young, old and cultured. “What do you think about the Somali Repatriation?” The refugees share their views. Their perspectives show the diversity of public opinion.
My habitual residence was in Gedo before I fled to Kenya in 2000. The peace in Somalia is still in the hand of the terrorist groups, thus I can’t go back now. The solution would be to make the ground safer for the returnees. People should be able to have access to social needs such as the rights to education, health care and food security. Therefore the International community should facilitate a better structured security for the returnees. You should not just decided to throw people like stones into the desert and watch them dying shamelessly. It may not add value to humanity.
- M. Said, a social worker with LWF.
I arrived in Kenya in 1991 when the civil war broke out in Somalia but after the coastal refugee camps in Kenya were closed down in 1995 by UNHCR/Kenya government, I returned back to Kismayo. However due to continued violence in the region I fled back to Kenya for the second time in 2009. I was born in Mogadishu where I attended my higher education. Life was full of promise before the civil war. I love Somalia but I cannot return soon due to the insecurity problems. It’s not an appropriate time, the country is not even 50% safe from violent attacks. Al-Shabaab is still interfering with the peace in the country while the clan militias possess strong weapons who are not yet disarmed. Some major towns are pronounced safe simply because there’s the presence of Kenya Defense Forces (KDF), while about 15km out of Kismayo is controlled by illegal armed groups! I believe it’s safer for me and my children to stay in Kakuma compared to Somalia. I’m thankful for the hospitality of the Kenya government and UNHCR. I wish to see a more peaceful Somalia before I could decide to return for a third time!
- Abdikadir Abshir, an NGO worker and a prominent refugee leader.
I have lived in Kakuma since 2009. I came from Middle Shabele (Jowhar) in Somalia. I cannot go back to risk my life again. It’s not a right time for me because it’s not a safe place. My beloved father was killed there. I am from the minority clan and my place of residence in middle Shabele region is experiencing continued fighting since 1992 escalating on basis of ethnicity.
- Abdi Magafe, an LWF local guard.
I was born in Kenya (Malindi) but my parents came from Kismayo. I am living with nine members of my family in Kakuma. I have never been to Somalia and all I know is about Kenya but despite the fact of owning a nationality by virtue of birth I don’t have a Kenyan Citizenship. The repatriation of Somalis could be premature. The country is not safe or stable. It might have improved by 50% but it’s not the right time to return refugees into that war-torn place. I think the refugee leaders should be allowed to go and see and return mission to understand current situation of peace in Somalia. Therefore, while life in exile is unpredictable the Somali refugees should not be forced to return to Somalia.
- Ahmed Yusuf, a student at Bor-town secondary school.
I am an artist living in Kakuma with my family since I arrived in 2009. I cannot go back to Somalia because I am from Madhiban a minority tribe. If I attempted to go back I can lose my children and wife who are from the Hawiye tribe that doesn’t allow inter-marriages with minority tribes. I had a big studio in Mogadishu which was bombed by Al-Shabaab. My father was killed in that studio, we lost all property and ran to Kenya. I lost my mother in the civil war. My brothers and sisters went missing in 2007.
- Abdi-nasir Abdi, a local artist.
I arrived in Kakuma in 1998, I have suffered in the camp but I cannot go back to Somalia. Other tribes can go back home like: Hawiye, Darod and Isaaq because they are in the government, they have guns. They are in power but minority tribes cannot go back to unsecured regions. I have completed a profiling interview with UNHCR and I am hoping to get resettled to America with my family.
- Hussein Ibrahim, a father of seven.
I arrived in Kakuma in 2007 together with my mother. My father was killed by exploding bomb in Mogadishu. I am now a student in this camp. The only advantage I got in Kakuma was to be able to go school without much fees. Somali is not peaceful yet and there are a lot of worries for security reasons. Therefore my view towards the repatriation is that Somalis should not be forced to return at this particular time. Thank you.
- Abdullahi Farahan, a student.
I arrived in Kenya in 1992 after we fled from Jamame in Lower Juba region. We got registered at coastal camps of Kenya where I grew up and moved to Kakuma in 1998. I support the Somali repatriation and I am willing to go back. It’s a right time for Somalis to go back home when our country needs us the most. The country was at war for two decades. The first decade was tribal war while the second decade was Somalis against the foreigners, Al-Shabaab and the war against extremists but the tribal conflicts ended. It’s the nature of any war that the ideology of the people changes after some time. For instance, the ideology of Al-Shabaab wish to claim that they can stand for the right for Somalia. Millions of Somalis are living with Al-Shabaab and they’re also protecting them. What makes people to develop a negative attitude towards Al-Shabaab is their judgments and lack of proper legal system. They’re affiliated with Al-Qaeda and that’s where we don’t support them. However in my view, the repatriation of Somalis can bring peace and improve social-economical aspects. Somalis are a business community, they uplifted the economy of Kenya in many major towns, so they can practice that trade in our motherland.
- Yasin Mohamed, Head of Aliform Somali Generation – a refugee CBO.
I was born in Wabeni, Mogadishu and fled to Kenya for safety in 1997. I am not planning to go back there again. My father and mother were both killed in Mogadishu due to discriminatory tribal conflict. I felt humiliated for being born in a minority tribe but it is not my fault. Outside Mogadishu is not secure yet, due to bombing and killing of innocent civilians including government officials by armed illegal militia.
- Adey Adow, an NGO employee.
The repatriation is said to commence on 14 January, 2014 but I am not ready go back neither are the Somalis at Kakuma. In the December leaders’ meeting with UNHCR, it was clarified that the Lower Juba region of Kismayo and the Bay region of Baydhabo are liberated and declared safe area for the returnees. I think the refugees in Dadaab camps of whom the majority came from Juba Land can easily go back without much problem. The repatriation registrations are done at UNHCR field posts and the office of the camp manager at the DRA. Additionally, UNHCR have stated in the meetings that they only have budget for the Somalis who are from the areas that are declared safer.
- Abdilatifi M., Somali refugee leader.
We crossed the border to Kenya at Liboi in 2002. When the civil war started I was about to walk. My mother was carrying me on her back for 10 days journey and it affected my life which led me to develop disability. Life was dirty there because the Somalis were killing other Somalis and I didn’t understand why even after I grew up. The Somali government is not stable. They even needed extra security machinery and that’s why Amisom [African Union Mission in Somalia] is taking care of them but who will guarantee our security when we get back to the spoiled land? I can’t go back to Somalia again. My parents are too old now. I can’t support them and they can’t support me either. If another war broke out again we can all die again helplessly. There are hundreds of people dying because of security reasons including the Aid workers and the government personnel.
- Abdi Ali, a youth leader for a disabled group.
My home was in Gedo before the town was attacked and I narrowly escaped with my eight children to Kenya in October 2007. Following the problems I witnessed I cannot go back there. It’s been so long since and I really don’t know the recent situation but from what I know there’s no peace and stability. The government is not active. Al-Shabaab is more in control of some towns. On a television we learnt that Al-Shabaab killed a member of parliament between the office of the president and prime minister which is a big shame for the Somali government. And yet there’s no alternative to future. We’re refugees and we can’t make any change and have no influence.
- Farhan Diriye, an IRC staff member.
I fled Kismayo and arrived in Kenya in 1991 and spend my life in two refugee camps. I am not ready to go back to Somalia because its government is not stable to defend its own democracy! Therefore returning refugees to such porous regions will be violating the 1951 Geneva Convention. The 99% security situation of Kismayo is worse and there’s no change for years. The armed militia like Al-Shabaab is in control in several regions by imposing the Sheria Laws. The ideology of Al-Shabaab is misinterpreting the Muslim doctrines of Holy Quran. They did not want to see foreigners, thus they are fighting any humanitarian NGOs. Additionally, there’s more of gender based violence in Somalia where women and girls are raped by armed militia which is not easily differentiated whether it’s the government soldiers or the Al-Shabaab militia.
- Ali Ahmed, a refugee leader in zone 2.
I came from Kismayo 17 years ago and living in Kakuma camp that has turned to be like my home for safety. However, I cannot go back to Somalia now because of the security reasons which is still very bad. The civil war seems over now and many thousands of people lost lives but the current situation is that Al-Shabaab is causing instability as they continue fighting with the Somali government and peace keeping troops.
- Ali Dahir, a business owner in Kakuma 1.
I was living in Gedo region before I was forced to flee from Al-Shabaab recruitment. They followed me up to Dadaab and I had to escape to Kakuma. I think the call for repatriation came at a wrong time because Somalia is not a peaceful country yet. There’s no meaning in forcing people to go back to a place where they will be harmed and forced to run to Kenya or another country for protection. I’ve shared a lot of information with UNHCR and they seem to be doing less on my case file. I am so curious about 2014!
- anonymous Somali refugee at Kakuma 1 market.