SOMALIA: Returning diaspora help rebuild
MOGADISHU — Armed with new skills, wealth and sense of optimism the Somali Diaspora community is returning to Mogadishu after two decades of prolonged conflict.
At Aden Adde international airport, everyday hundreds of Somalis are arriving in the biggest wave of migration in the modern history of the town. Many who have never seen Africa let alone Mogadishu are giving up lucrative businesses and successful careers in the Diaspora.
“I have lived in the United States for more than 22 years. To be frank, I left Mogadishu feeling sense of passion for my homeland,” Minnesota resident Abdi Habib Yassin told Hiiraan Online news.
He regarded the town as the world’s most dangerous city, which was Mogadishu’s unofficial title for the last decade. “I was under the very wrong impression. My fear vanished once I saw security forces patrolling the streets and people were able to go about their business even late at night,” he said.
He is one of many who have returned to catch up with long-lost relatives and family members as well to help with reconstruction efforts of this war-battered and bullet ridden capital.
Somali communities dotted around the world are joining arms in an effort to revive what was once regarded as ‘the Pearl of the Indian Ocean’. They are contributing to projects that will rehabilitate hospitals, streets, shelter and schools.
Siham Ahmed Nur, 21, also a resident of Minnesota, grew up in the U.S. and has never seen the Somali capital. “My parents have always told me about Mogadishu. My impression is completely different now that I am here. I have witnesses people returning to normal life, rebuilding is ongoing and business people are very active,” she said. She encouraged the Diaspora community to return to help the country with its reconstruction and stability.
According to unofficial figures the State of Minnesota is home to more than 20,000 Somali immigrants who have been settling since the collapse of Somalia in 1991. Canada is said to host the largest Somalia diaspora community, almost half a million and they are returning in large numbers too. Together with other communities, Somalis send more than $2 billion back to Somalia and Somaliland to families and relatives.
Mr. Yassin said hotels in Mogadishu are fully booked and there is long waiting queues for beds. “If your new to the town, you will not find a place to sleep. All hotels are fully booked,” he said.
As well as helping the Diaspora are returning from abroad to invest in the country at a rate unseen since early 1980s and the property market is booming. The city is enjoying a little prosperity many Somalis thought was unthinkable two years ago.
“Somalia is definitely a place where you can invest today. Government needs to encourage people to return and settle,” Dahir Osman, 26, from Canada told Somalilandpress.
Mogadishu is not only changing its physical landscape but residents feel they are directly benefiting from the transformation and they hope it will lead to large investment prospects.
Unlike a year ago when countries such as the US were concerned about returnees, fearing they might be recruited by al Shabaab, the international community has welcomed the new skilled migrants.
June 28, 2012