Leyla Ali Adow

Refugees.

Whilst writing my main review on Aida Silvestri’s ‘Even This Will Pass’ show at Roman road I have decided I ought to further my knowledge of why so many refugees are fleeing the Horn of Africa.

I have begun reading the book ‘Conflict and the refugee experience: flight, exile, and repatriation in the Horn of Africa by Assafaw Bariagaber, 2006.

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Conflict and the refugee experience: flight, exile, and repatriation in the Horn of Africa by Assafaw Bariagaber, 2006. 

Silvestri suggests that many of the refugees she interviews have fled Eritrea due to the poor standard of the dictatorial government, the population are under political regime and strict surveillance as well as having no freedom of speech.  From what I have discovered from ‘Conflict and the refugee experience…’ so far is that many refugees leave Africa due to political events, crisis and violence. It seems although the political situations are being hidden in the media as I’ve researched why refugees are leaving the Horn of Africa and many past articles have simply put it down to drought and famine.

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Leyla Ali Adow, second from left, a Somali refugee who is pregnant, waited with others to be interrogated at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya. 

A recent church shooting terrorist situation has lead to a mass security sweep in Kenya. Thousands of Somalian refugees are being swept up by the police and forced into overcrowded refugee camps. An article from the New York Times states that Police officers have entered homes and shops en masse, arresting hundreds of people, including women and children, and placing them on police trucks to take them to detention centres. “They don’t care if you have an ID card or not” claims a Mr. Abdulahi. 

Outside the gates of the camp families have commented to the press:

“My pregnant wife, 17-month-old child and sister are in there,” said Mahdi Ibrahim, 39, a refugee from Ethiopia. “This is the second time they come and arrest my family. Our refugee papers are valid.”

Ismail Osman, 63, a Kenyan citizen who is an ethnic Somali, said that police officers in his neighbourhood the day before had arrested his 32-year-old son, who has a mental illness and was not carrying identification.

“We don’t know where he is,” Mr. Osman said tearfully, showing his son’s Kenyan citizenship papers. “The process is confusing.”

Many of the refugees are terrified of being sent back to war-torn Somalia. What shocks me is that fellow Africans are not helping each other out through times of crisis, the corrupt police ethics are extremely concerning. The moral principles of humanity are shocking in these situations and I find it ultimately distressing.

Video insight to the situation and camps in Kenya available at Aljazeera: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/03/kenya-confines-all-refugees-two-camps-2014325211245266713.html 

New York Times Article, available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/world/africa/kenyas-answer-to-terrorism-sweeping-roundups-of-somalis.html?_r=0