Somali Immigrants Dying in The Sea

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Since the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia in 1991 a mushrooming flow of Somali refugees has spread all over the world. Ethiopia and Kenya are important countries of refuge for Somalis but Yemen has also hosted thousands of Somali refugees.

Yemen: – Recently At least 57-Somali immigrants drowned as their boat upturned in a windstorm off the coast of Bir-Ali in southern Yemen on Sunday.

Most of those who died were Somali refugees, as UNHCR confirmed on Tuesday.

The only survivor swam for 23 hours before reaching the Yemeni coast, close to the port town of Bir-Ali, 400-kms east of Aden.

Twenty three bodies were recovered on Wednesday. It is not clear yet how many of the migrants have survived from the boat that capsized.

It isn’t the first time this occurred, but many Somalis have been lost in the sea between Somalia and Yemen. Each year, hundreds of thousands of Africans, especially Somalis, flee to Yemen in search of a good life, due to poverty and violent behavior.

Yemen cooperated with the IOM to assist in the return of about 800 Africans to their native countries, but unfortunately Africans persist in arriving in Yemen almost daily, fleeing deteriorating circumstances in Ethiopia and Somalia.

There are more than one million African migrants in the country, according to statistics made available by Yemen authorities and UNHCR.

A boat sank off the coast of northern Mozambique on the 5th of February, 2011, it was carrying 129 illegal immigrants, 89 Somalis and 40 Ethiopians, it caused the death of 51 illegal Somali immigrants and survivors were taken to a refugee centre in Nampula, northern Mozambique.

The goal of the illegal immigrants is to seek a better life in South Africa, an economically rich country on the African continent. Numerous immigrants enter South Africa every month illegally through Mozambique.

Why do Somali Youths seek safety?

Generally throughout the period of colonialism and the independence period (1960-1969), youth were the spine of the Somali population. In the mid 1930-1960s, the youth began to organize themselves to battle for independence and freedom from oppression.

The Somali Youth League (SYL), a party of 13-youngsters, was the first youth organization that mobilized the people to combat colonialism. Through the efforts of the youth in the struggle for the freedom of their country, 01-07-1960, Somalia declared independence and the Somali Republic was born during that era.

After independence, the youth movement ripped. Once the motivated unity of fighting against a common enemy was missed, the youth spread and joined the numerous, existing clan-based parties.

The dreams of cohesion and national progress were quickly forgotten. Among the reasons for this change in the youth attitude was the lack of an adequate system of formal public education.

In the time between the independence declaration and the military coup, the number of students in schools was very low, and concentrated in large urban areas.

A mass educational campaign was launched during the military regime (1969-1990), because Somali language was written traditionally and oral in 1972. Inspired by the principles adopted by the regime, the education system disseminated a Socialist-oriented curriculum, reaching all towns and villages first and then rural areas through the “rural development campaign” in 1974, where youth played a significant role.

On 26 January, 1991, Mohamed Siad Barre’s military regime was overthrown by rebel factions.

The president left the capital, which was devastated by incessant clashes between the rebels and the government forces first, and among different rebel factions later.

The civil war quickly spread to the rest of the country. Living conditions were particularly severe during 1991-92, when war and enormous population upheavals lead to famine, leaving 2 million Somalis internally displaced and thousand of refugees outside the country. Again, the youth were heavily affected by the situation, becoming the militia forces fighting for clan factional wars.

In the past two decades of chaos, many young Somalis died in internal clashes, while others tried to reach safety and a new life in foreign countries, sometimes by crossing the Mediterranean or the Red Sea. Those who survived the anarchy and still live in Somalia are mostly jobless.

Some of these youths are obsessed to venture overseas as refugees, by any means. This obsession is locally dubbed, most of them have relatives abroad, and they will try to realize their goal at any cost.

Many young people have been forced to migrate because of the conflict; today youngsters who live in the main towns are displaced from rural areas and suffer dramatic changes in environment and social behaviors.

Many of them, especially during the civil-strife of conflict in the country fell prey to the various fighting factions.

The chaos in the region instigated Somali youths to migrate from their country and taking enormous risk to reach other countries. The immigrants encounter lots of risks each year and it is reported that 108 Somali youths have died in the seas between Somalia and Yemen or Mozambique this year.

The Illegal immigrants also face many problems, such as rape, torture, killing, depriving, robbery, and other forms of abuses during the journey. All these problems can be connected to the lack of peace and stability in the country, This will likely continue until law and order are restored in Somalia.