Photos from tonight’s Act for Somalia Monthly Public Lecture with Abdi Aynte. Director of Heritage institute for Policy Studies,We were so grateful for Aynte’s visit to Bristol & his insights on the Topic of Somali Federalism.Thanks to everyone who came along to our event.We hope you enjoyed it.
New Topic and Speaker next Month so the debate continues
Act for Somalia’s monthly event for July was held in Mogadishu today, the capital of the Somali republic. The topic discussed in great detail by all attendees was youth political participation in Somalia.
The event was attended by over 50 young people from civil society, professional networks, students and the media. They included both local and Diaspora young people who currently reside, work and study in Mogadishu.
The guest speaker, the Honourable Minister for Youth and Sports Khalid Omar Ali, spoke passionately about the young people’s contribution to Somali society today. He stated that the youth were the majority today and in a future one man one vote scenario they would wield enormous influence in Somali politics if they are united, work hard and mobilise themselves effectively.
The youth attending the event discussed and debated their role and identified opportunities and obstacles to greater political participation. This meeting had brought together like minded, intelligent and patriotic young people who genuinely cared about the future of their home country who had not all met each other before. A positive outcome of this meeting was that now that they had all met they all agreed to remain in touch and work together to encourage and lobby for the creation of the social, economic and political environment for their successful involvement and inclusion in Somalia’s political future. A further positive outcome was that this event was one of the first held at a venue in the heart of the community and not in a hotel far removed from the areas most ordinary Somalis live. The District Commissioner for Hamarjajab, our host, praised Act For Somalia for this breaking of the norm.
Act For Somalia, as an staunch supporter of youth empowerment and inclusion in all aspects of Somali life and society is proud to have organised this event. The establishment of good governance, security, peace and collective societal progress starts with full inclusion on the part of all citizens. The young people are Somalia’s future and if today’s event is anything to go by, it is an impressive and hopeful one.
Act For Somalia would like to sincerely thank the Hamarjajab District Commissioner Eng Ahmed Dhore for hosting the event.
Thank you for the Khat ban Mr. Prime Minister.David Cameron
The ban of Khat use, supply and importation in the UK is one of the best social policies aimed at the Somali community in the UK. The Khat ban, as the Prime Minister David Cameronin his op-ed published exclusively on Hiiraan Online made it clear, was something wanted and campaigned successfully for by the Somali community. Khat has destroyed the lives of many people and was doing the same to many in the new generation who are expected to achieve and lead in British society in the future. Khat had entrenched poverty, broken families and led many people into debt and misery. It has facilitated the neglect of children and their progress in schools as many fathers slept all day after chewing the night before while their wives struggled to and from schools with their children.
We agree with the Prime Minister that the ban on Khat is a symbol of his government’s listening, hearing and action on a matter that concerned one of the most socially excluded community in the UK. Indeed, as far as the community wasconcerned, “enough was enough” for victims of khat use and abuse in all their forms. The ban certainly shows that David Cameron’s government cares about the Somali community in the UK and this compliments their efforts in restabilising Somalia today.
Britain is a valuable friend of Somalia and its people. It has encouraged the British Somali Diaspora to achieve and return to invest and rebuild their home nations. The ban of Khat will go a long way towards making this a reality as we hope the ban heralds in anew dawn of prosperity, progress and development for the Somali community in the UK. Whatever the arguments of the past in the pro and anti khat ban camps, it is illegal now in the UK. However, statutory and third sector service providers must be given the necessary resources and ascertain the required culturally sensitive expertise to assist the Somali community after the ban both socially and economically.
Act for Somalia
Act for Somalia Statement on the Global Somali Dıaspora Conference. (ıstanbul-Turkey 21/06/14 – 22/06/14)
The Global Somali Diaspora conference in Istanbul was one of the most organised and issue led Diaspora meeting we have ever witnessed. From the beginning it was professionally managed and all the delegates knew exactly what they came to do and achieve. Our organisation was invited as one of many from the UK and it was a great honour and privilege to have been asked for our contribution to a part of Somali history and effort we collectively need to promote, strengthen and act on for our home nation to move forward.
The Somali Diaspora have played a crucial role in every aspect of Somalia’s development during and since the war. It has not always been positive but the Diaspora as a group are increasingly more visible and active on Somali soil genuinely pushing progress forward in its many ways and manifestations. The issue of coordination, leadership and unity within the Diaspora has always been a topic of discussion and many organised set up to address this most urgent need had failed. So why should this conference in Istanbul be any different?
The meeting of the Somali Diaspora in Istanbul we pray will wipe away the negative connotations of any group of Somalis coming together to do anything as this meeting was inclusive, idea driven and genuinely held with the Somali public interest, both at home and abroad, in mind. The participants were from all over the world and every region of Somali imaginable. They differed ideologically and professionally but they were united a common goal of unifying abroad to have an impact at home. This makes our organisation, Act For Somalia, a participant of positive Somali history. When a nation has been at war with itself for over two decades and its social infrastructure has been destroyed it is easy to live our comfortable lives in the Diaspora and simply focus on our private lives. This is the easy option but it does not offer us protection from the questions we get from our non Somali friends when anything negative happens there. The fact is, no matter how much we try to run from our Somali identity abroad, we will always be reminded by our peers and events that we are at some point. So it is on us as the Diaspora to secure our nations future by working with our brothers in Somalia and ourselves and all other stakeholders to steer our national ship through the difficult waters on to a prosperous future. Act For Somalia passionately believes this is possible.
The Global Somali Diaspora conference introduced us to Somali brothers and sisters who were among the most amazing people we have ever met both professionally and personally. Over the two days of the conference there was pride in Soomaliniimo. Pride in the goals we had to achieve. Pride in our people and a steely determination for progress for our people wherever they are and whatever other citizenship they hold. Act For Somalia is especially proud that our Secretary, the inspirational Abdi Barud has been elected the first Chief Executive of our new Diaspora organisation. He has the right skills and mind set as well as a brilliant and consensual manner that allows him to unite people even in the most difficult situations over the most challenging of issues.
The Global Somali Diaspora organisation, in order to fulfill its mandate and live up to its high but absolutely necessary expectations needs support from all Somali Diaspora organisations across the world, it needs to be inclusive and foster strong relationship with all Somalis and key stakeholders and governments. Act For Somalia welcomes and is ready to support and work with this new organisation.
Act for Somalia sincerely thanks the Turkish people and government for their generosity, understanding , engagement and facilitation of the Diaspora conference at the highest level. From the Turkish PM, the honourable Recep Erdogan to his deputy Dr. Isler and the many diplomats and Turkish Diaspora members that had taken part and promoted the conference engagement was genuine. There was a feeling of family and belonging for the Somali Diaspora conference attendees and as the deputy PM of Turkey Dr. Isler made clear at the conference, Turkey and its people truly Somalis as brothers. Finally, thank also goes to the organisers of the conference and those that made it happen logistically.
Act for Somalia
Act for Somalia’s Statement on Refugee Week.
Refugee week is one of the most important weeks in the calendar for us every year in the United Kingdom. It is a week of fun, happiness and a chance to reflect. There is much to reflect on. Almost all the members of our organization are and were at one point in one European Union (EU) State or another, a refugee. Some have even spent time in different refugee camps across the world but upon arrival to England they quickly educated themselves, integrated and are now role models for their community. This is not exclusive to Act For Somalia members only, almost all refugees across the world aspire to or have already become an asset to their adopted nations.
We as an organization have been working tirelessly to confront the stereotypical but wholly false lazy benefit seeking foreigners flooding our country narrative in England alongside many other great Somali British organizations. We showcase the success of our community wherever we can in our literature, at our conferences and wherever else possible. We as former refugees understand what a lonely and cold journey the route to citizenship in the UK and most of Europe and the world can be.
This journey has got more frightening, lonelier and cruel every year as the economic and financial meltdown in the developed Western nations such as England and most of the EU and the subsequent austerity that followed has allowed for the widespread circulation of myths against asylum seekers and immigrants. The but for them been here argument is getting louder and will continue to become more prevalent in the run up to the UK elections as all the mainstream Party’s want to show how tough they all will be if elected on immigration. The rise of the anti immigration and anti-EU right wing political organizations such as the National Front in France, New Dawn in Greece and UKIP in the UK has only made the situation worse.
The simple fact is that immigrants and asylum seekers did not cause Europe’s austerity nor did they assist AlShabaab in attacking Kenyan cities this year. They are victims of war and are often traumatized having left behind their entire lives, their achievements and family only to be given a cruel and cold welcome in the very places they’ve sought sanctuary. Refugees are the easiest targets for violence, corruption and mistreatment. They are victimized and traumatized multiple times by people and processes which are aimed at disproving their case for refugee status. This is absolutely wrong especially in developed nations and a great betrayal of the spirit and the written words of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Globalizationhas ironically created a false sense of national competition between nations that ought to be working towards a unified world connected by free and fair trade. At least this is the mantra in international summits. Politicians must always listen to their electorate and respect their wishes but in the case of immigration, the anti refugee and immigrant feelings are mostly not driven by the public alone but by the biased news reports that isolate and blame all ills on new comers who are, on the whole the vast majority of the time, focused on survival and learning the means through which to integrate into their new societies.
Refugee week in the UK is special for many people who have lost everything and started again from scratch. The Somali people have had no functioning government for over two decades due to a devastating civil war. They became refugees in almost every corner of the world. Today the Somali Diaspora can be found on every continent of the globe. This is not necessarily something to be proud of as they became the Diaspora due to their nation becoming a failed State but their contribution to their adopted nations and home nation is generally vast. Somalia today is still not safe to return anyone to if they seek asylum and it is one of the reasons why so many young Somali people risk their lives in the rough seas to reach greener pastures in the west. However, the best way for the international governments such as those in the EU to appease their electorates at home with lower immigration levels is to continue to assist the developing world and post conflict and in conflict societies like Somalia to once again stand on its own feet. Britain, America, Turkey, Denmark and other EU states are actively engaged in supporting the rebuilding of Somalia and its institutions. This in time will them to limit the level of immigration from Somalia into their countries hence pleasing some of their electorate and provide the Somali people with the opportunities and strong government to facilitate progress so that they never ever need to risk their lives again on the cruel seas that has prematurely ending the hopes and dreams of those unlucky many before them.
Act for Somalia
Act for Somalia participated a round table meeting at Chatham House in London With Nick Kay, UN representative to Somalia on Friday 13/06/14. The meeting was hopeful,meaningful and posed key challenges for the Somali Government if it is to achieve the crucial landmarks required of it by 2016. Nick Kay, UN representative to Somalia stated cautiously that as far as current progress in Somalia was concerned, the glass was half full rather than empty. This is more than a play on words as it is evident that the Somali Government led by President Hassan Sheikh is slowly finding its feet.
Turning around a failed state which has been at war with itself for over two decades is no simple task. This is further complicated by the lack of legal constitutional clarity, a national security force and policy owned and managed by the Somali Government and as Nick Kay reminded those at the meeting Governmental infighting.
Despite all the above there is room for the optimism that Nick Kay demonstrated in his speech but in order for the security situation as well as the Governmental processes to improve the Somali Government and its key leaders must find a way to agree on the path to progress. This is key especially where the constitution, federalism and security are concerned. The challenges for achieving this still are lack of institutional capacity, Somali ownership of the political process and absence of joint working within the Government.
No one minister or Government official including the president can make the necessary herculean reforms to steer Somalia in the right direction. Somalia does not necessarily need to change course, but there needs to be evidence of leadership and determination throughout Somali society to eventually deliver the peace, security and development that our nation and our long suffering people need. This challenge is one we must rise to with honesty and a genuine love and belief in our people and country.
A Somali proverb says “You cannot wash your face with one finger.” (Far kaliya fool ma dhaqdo) therefore collective effort is undoubtedly fundamental.
Act for Somalia
Act For Somalia hosted last night a talk by Dr. Eric Herring and researcher Latif Ismail from the university of Brisol as part of our monthly lectures series. The talk was titled Unlocking Somalia’s potential and both participants spoke of their work at the Global Insecurities Centre at the University of Bristol and their recent Visit to Somalia. The talk spoke of the successes and challenges within the Diaspora and local Somalis contribution to their nation. Somalis that both Dr. Herring and Latif met on their journey in Somalia were committed to change and were working hard to make their country a better place. This included politicians, technocrats and those volunteering both from the local population and Diaspora.
The talk encouraged the Somali people to recognise their success both in the Diaspora and at home and to share their knowledge and build partnerships for development for their country.
Photos from tonight’s Act for Somalia Monthly Public Lecture with Richard Dowden.We were so grateful for Richard’s visit to Bristol & his insights on Somalia&Africa in General
The monthly Evening Talk and Discussion hosted by Act for Somalia for February took place on Wednesday 19/02/14. Dr Christian Bueger (University of Cardiff) delivered a lecture on piracy and the future of maritime security in Somalia. Despite the current actions of the international community at sea, there needs to be a greater coordination of sea and land initiatives in order to tackle Somali piracy and to create alternative livelihood opportunities for pirates, fishermen and their communities. Piracy is not an issue that created itself and it’s only victims are not Captain Phillips and the Shipping industry. We need global solutions and international support in finding local solutions if piracy is to be addressed effectively in the Horn of Africa.
Act for Somalia
Somalis in Bristol make valuable contributions to society
Somalis in Bristol make valuable contributions to society. Some of their contributions are: There are small businesses run by Somalis such as shops, internet cafes, Somali restaurants etc. Rundown neighbourhoods in Bristol are now filled by Somalis. As a result of their occupation, most of these neighbourhoods are now vibrant areas. Also some council estates in St Paul’s and Easton, where authorities experienced a high number of crimes, were transformed by Somalis. It can be argued that Somalis contributed to the regeneration of some neighbourhoods in Bristol. There are a lot of Somalis who are drivers of Bristol buses and taxis, and some work for the Government and local authority. There are a large number of Somalis who regularly attend universities in Bristol. Despite all these positive contributions, Somalis in Bristol face huge challenges and there is little known in Bristol about their contributions. The stereotypical view of Somalis heard by many of the city’s residents is they are benefit seekers and their only aim is to produce as many children as possible in order to get the maximum amount of benefit from the Government. I am not denying that there are Somalis in Bristol relying on Government support. The language barrier is another challenge that faces Somalis in Bristol. And finally, I would like Somalis to adapt better to British society and that the society would receive and accept them. But in order for that to happen, changes must take place both in the Somali community and in the general atmosphere in Britain. The first generation of Somalis that arrived here still longs for a return to the homeland so integration may be difficult for that reason.