#Don’tBuyDeath: The travails of young Somali migrants on the mediterranean sea and why this needs to stop

On Monday, it was reported that about 400 Somalis drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after their boat capsized in the middle of the mass migration from Libya to Italy. According to the reports which remain mostly confirmed on social media, more than 23 of the people involved in the tragic incident were young and still studying in the university. Despite the lack of official confirmation of the incident, which eyewitness accounts claim occurred on April 8, Somali leaders have issued condolences to those affected.

Following the tragedy, a pertinent discussion is brewing on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtags: #Don’tBuyDeath and #SomaliYouth and a Facebook page named “I Am Somali.” Social media users in Somalia are using these methods to create awareness on the dangers of migration and sensitise the Somali youth on why they should stop opting to undertake the hazardous journey. They accuse the government of not doing enough to sensitise the youth on this situation in addition to not providing better options for the Somali youth. They also condemn the transit countries for their role in creating avenues to make these journeys possible.

Over two decades of political instability coupled with drought, famine, al-Shabaab terrorists, and increasing human rights abuses has brought Somalia to the point that it currently stands in the ongoing migrant crisis. Since 2012, the number of Somalis seeking to gain asylum in industrialised countries through illegal means has increased. In 2013, over 20,o00 Somalis applied for asylum in 44 industrialised countries and about 15,393 were resettled in 23 of them, including the United States, Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

According to the International Organisation for Migrants (IOM), over 1,750 migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea this year alone. And Somalian people make up a significant amount of the 60 percent of migrants from various countries that undertake the perilous journey across the Mediterranean every year, running towards protection and better lives.

Although it is difficult to ignore the political, economic and cultural reasons that compel Somalians and nationals of other African countries in the same situation to make the dangerous decision to take this journey, the numbers prove that continuing to choose illegal means of fleeing from their problems has its own deadly consequences.

Why should Somalis desist from crossing the Mediterranean?

Last year, a 14-year Somali boy eventually died after suffering from severe physical abuse in Libya, a popular point of departure for migrants. In total, about 700 drowned while migrating from Libya to Italy in April 2015, and 20,000 individuals have most likely lost their lives to a similar fate in the last 20 years.

Despite the growing notion that security in Somalia is improving, the country still has a ‘diehard migrants’ issue which, in fairness, is exacerbated by the presence of al-Shabaab. In reality, most migrants maintain that they would rather die crossing the Mediterranean Sea than remain in their home countries, or be returned there.

To contain this issue, a 2014 study done by the IOM titled: Dimensions of Crisis on Migration in Somalia suggests a focus on security, economic, and environmental problems by the Somali government concerning potential migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia in general. To this end, potential migrants should be factored into an early planning programme that allows access to basic amenities, provides them with assistance and encourages them, along with rejected asylum seekers, to develop skills and financial literacy.

Additionally, as emphasised by the Somali youth advocates on social media, the key sectors in the country’s economy need to be able to accommodate the youth.

Getting lost at sea is possibly one of the worst ways to lose one’s life, as the incident is likely to go unnoticed for a long while and the bodies are rarely ever recovered. Travelling through the Mediterranean in dicey conditions is not necessarily the first choice for most Somali migrants, but how can they be convinced that what awaits them on the journey to the ‘paradise’ is not worth the trouble?

The post #Don’tBuyDeath: The travails of young Somali migrants on the mediterranean sea and why this needs to stop appeared first on Ventures Africa.