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A shrinking and increasingly hostile world for Somalis

Somalis who have been long-time residents of several Western countries are being deported back Somalia. Norway and Denmark, small countries that have Somali populations of 36,000 and 20,000, are intending to deport Somalis. In both cases, the UN urged them not to. Denmark has now thought twice about this practice. Prior to this, we saw countries such as Finland, The Netherlands, The US and Canada deport Somalis. 

It wasn’t too long ago that Saudi Arabia deported 12,000 Somali migrants. Somali refugees in Kenya are being repatriated by the thousands. On top of that, Kenya is intending to create a wall along the Somali border to keep its borders safe. Somalia is currently hosting 2 million IDPs. The war and crisis in Yemen have increased the influx of additional Yemeni and Somali refugees.

The reasons why Somalis are deported differ. In Norway the main reason is fraud connected to ID-papers, in Canada and the UK, severe criminal cases are on the list. For others, it may be rejected asylum applications, illegal immigration or overstaying of visas. Irrespective of their status in their countries of arrival, whether working migrants, refugees, asylum seekers- that’s not what’s ought to cause an outcry.

It’s the very essence of the matter. Saudi Arabia or Kenya can both show a track record of violation of basic human rights; therefore for them to send Somalis back, is business as usual. For western countries where Somalis have lived, worked and paid taxes up to 5, 10 or 15 years, it’s rather incomprehensible, not to mention these countries consider themselves advanced in the protection of humans rights. If countries abroad can send home citizens, then truly, we are not much of citizens. Our rights are violated and we appear as worthless and superfluous citizens whose value is rather low.

Why are countries all over the world closing their doors at our faces?

In the year of 2016 we witnessed a gradual, but steady shift in majority liberal democracies that have taken a turn towards the right. Country after country has witnessed the rise of right-wing parties in government offices, and also a right-wing populism in society. Populism has altered the political face of Europe, not to mention the US. With the spread of anti-immigration, anti-establishment and nationalistic slogans, 2016 became the year when Western countries competed to have the toughest immigration laws. Brexit and the Trump-victory were also blown in the face of liberal democracy. 

As a result of a series of terror attacks throughout the West, some also committed by Somalis, the social atmosphere towards Muslims and refugees has changed drastically. The refugee crisis scared local populations and several countries closed their borders. Along with this, racially and religiously motivated assaults towards Muslims also increased. Though elections in Austria and France demonstrated the slight exaggeration of right-wing populism, they indeed underscored that right-wing populism is a force to be reckoned with, irrespective of country.

Somalis and their national issues of various sorts have tried the international community. For 25 years Somalis and the international community have waited for an end to the atrocities and the political lock-down. Our presence has burdened the nations where we today are alleged citizens. High-end meetings, top-summits, and local negotiations have not put an end to the increasing flow of Somali refugees. The world seems fed up with Somalis, and also seems to be running out of patience for the pending consummation of political cohesion in Somalia.

What will be deported Somalis face once they’re sent back to Somalia?

The Somali economic reality is not very promising. It is deeply tragic and frankly saddening to watch our leaders not even being bothered by the enormous challenges at hand. Not one single Somali leader has criticized the deportation of Somalis or the reparations from Kenya in a way that have resulted in a change of policy from Kenya or our international allies. If young, unemployed Somali youngsters are being brainwashed by Al Shabab at a low threshold, imagine young Somali men from the west, unemployed, some unable to speak the language, some out-of-touch with the social clues and childishly naïve- wouldn’t they be an easy target for Al Shabab? I believe so.

The deported and the repatriated refugees will have to fight over jobs, accommodation, health care and education alongside the locals. It is hard imagining them having any dignity in such a situation. The challenges we are facing both within Somalia and outside Somalia are of our own making and of the distorted political will of our leaders. Somali authorities should never have accepted accepting any refugees without having a minimum standard of accommodation, health services, and education opportunities, if not for the coming refugees, at least for the ones they are already hosting.

The truth of the matter is, it is only going to be harder living in the West. The sooner we put in place a plan, a feasible and practical plan to get Somalia straight, politically and economically, the better for all of us. For that to even begin, we need leaders that are coherent, consistent and dedicated. As the diaspora, we should hold Somali leaders accountable for the policies they put in place and for the ones they fail to put in place. Additionally, being a part of the diaspora or the locals, wherever in Somalia, we ought to do our fair share of the job. A significant amount of responsibility is on our shoulders as well, young and old alike. 

We can all participate. Write, sing, work- either manner- fulfill your share of the obligation upon you towards Somalia.

Two appeals for the newly established parliament and new president

  • To create proper policies, domestically and foreign politically, to meet the challenges Somalis and Somalia is facing in these times of hardship.
  • If you are not fit to lead the country- wholeheartedly, truthfully and thoroughly- step aside.

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