Interview with a Somali Refugee

"Everything I tell you happened in front of me, not in history!"
A. – Refugee in Germany from Somalia

I will give you some information about my country and some other one concerning pirates.

The western countries, they are cause it, to be Somalian pirates.

Now I have some concern about Somali pirates. Now I will speak about pirates because some Somali pirates, they catch English people, man and woman who are so old. But Somali society they are fighting till today for their freedom. And really, we succeed that they are free. All the community send messages to let them free, then we win! This is something great for us, because the pirates they kill our dignity.

But the causes, as I believe, and not only me, but also other Somali people, the western countries they are causing it, to be Somalian pirates.
First there is a lot of fishers coming from western countries. Not only western, the whole world wide, they come to our sea and they took everything.

Then the pirates who first were fishers, when they lose all the fish- they think!
They become pirates. But the main cause is the international community.

We believe the international community, they don’t want to solve that problem. Because we know a lot of countries like Europe, America, China, they send military with ships and now they are in our coast line and our coast line is very very long distance and nobody can keep it. In the international community they can not keep good security. If they wanted to solve the problem, the solution is to support the government. Because our government is very, very weak.

The large of my country is 636 something thousand kilometres square and the government they are working only 20 thousand kilometres square.

Also they are not controlling on their self but there is military from other countries in Africa, and its called a mission. And they are working for the government. They support the government because the number of the military from Africa who are staying in Somalia are 10,000 soldiers from Uganda, Burundi. They send them to us because the international community say Somalian government they need military support because they don’t have enough soldiers, then they cannot make anything, then we are supporting.

And they support. But the peace brigades make big mistakes in Somalia because they kill a lot civilian people. When they are making fighting against the groups who are against the government, they don’t know the positions that they are, but they move it every time with weapons and a lot of civilian people they are dying, women, children. As we know or as we believe, in the future, Somalia will become the most dangerous place in the whole community.

The problem of Somalia is not concerning only Somalian people - it concerns the whole world wide.

We need to be safe in the whole world wide, because we are human we have same needs because everybody needs to have life and peace. And first thing for life is peace. If in some country there is no peace that country can cause problems. Also, the neighbour countries they also are having the problem.

For example, if I give you some information about the groups who are fighting Somalia:
First we had a military government. Then the people refused it and the fights the government they finish it the times. That was 20 years ago.When that government moved out, the Somalian elders and politicians they made a conference. Then they choose for government, a so called intermediate, to got time.
Also the international community they where supporting, because it was the first time. They made it in Djibouti, which is near to us. 

When they [the intermediate government] came back to enter Somalia, some groups who are from the former government, they refused them to enter, because they come from outside [Djibouti].

Cause something is transferred from [put in place by] the international community and then there is happening a lot of war in Somalia, in the Central Somalia, in the capital. A lot of regions start a lot of war and the situation is dangerous in another way.

Another phase:
The people call it Warlords, 1992. They started 1991 and because the former government was valid 1991. A few months later the people they are fighting each other for tribes and then till 1992.
Then started the Warlords and they divided every city to many parts, because there is a lot of warlords, clans, not only one.

Then they make lines, for example Mogadishu is like Frankfurt, then divide it to more than 20 parts.

If you want to go to another village then you have a lot of checkpoints, you reach there then you pay money to pass, then you reach another one. For 30 kilometres, you meet more than 20 checkpoints. The situation goes bad day after day. 

Then the civilian people they refuse it and then started another phase, end of 2005 – 2006, the Islamic courts. The Islamic courts, the people they trust it first. At that time the Islamic courts they are fighting with the warlords and they removed out of the capital. The capital becomes safe - for 6 months was peace,
no checkpoints, no green lines, and we feel relaxed and the people they visit each other, because some people they miss. For a lot of years we could not meet each other because of the situation.

You lived in one city but could not meet each other.

Because if you want to visit another village it is another tribe there working. They have a warlord and they can kill you. It's difficult to ask to make connection. For 6 months it was good. We could move from place to place then the international community they organised to make another government.

They made a conference in Kenya. Then they choose the president for Somalia and they make parliamentary. They did not ask the population. The civilians they always miss their rights. They never get their rights.

If we live together we have to decide or think who can be our leader. Who can lead us. But the international community choose one person.

Then the Ethiopians support for military that government and then they come to Somalia and start again the war. Again and again. We have met a lot of problems in Ethiopia because for somebody who lived in another village and you wanted to go to another village, then the Ethiopian army they catch you. They say: you are member of the Islamic courts? You say: no! I am civilian person. 

They don’t make proof, they say: no! no! and they charge you for killing and nobody says why you are killing or so, because the government, they don’t have power and they are only behind [supporting] the Ethiopian military.

Ethiopian military have done a lot of problems also on the other side affecting things. If you live on the side where the government is working and you want to go to another place then the Ethiopian government they catch you and they say: you are working with the government! And you say no!
And they say: we do not believe you, if you are not working for the government, why don’t you take gun to make fighting. And you say: I don’t want to kill anybody or to have a gun.
They will kill you.

Then we pass to another phase. Really there is a lot of steps.

The Islamic courts they fight in two parts: one part they say we make legislation. We would like to discuss and speak to the government how to solve the problem. Also, the international community, they abuse or they make pressure to the president and say you have to say no, I don't want to be president.
When he is valid the government, there are 6 months somebody has to be president before the community chooses him, then the part of the Islamic court who accepted the negotiation with the government, they have got a lot of members in the parliament. You will be surprised if I tell you the number of parliamentarians we have: 550!
You know how many we are? We are 9 million 800. The ministers, they are more than 30.

Then they choose a member of the Islamic court, the part that accepted the negotiation and now he is the president. The people, they think because he was member in the Islamic court then they think Somalian people, if he is the president, also the international community has chosen this man. 

You know if I want to be the president and I give a lot of money, I can be! You pay to be chosen. No democratic voting. No!no!no!

When he becomes leader then we get another phase.

Then the Islamic court, they are supporting the government and another part, they change the name and say it Hizbul Islam. We decided fights the government, they are against Ethiopian, they have to go out of Somalia.
Also there is another group, they are fundamentalists and they shoot me.
I will give you some information concerning myself, but first we are speaking generally.

Everything I tell you happened in front of me, not in history!

Because if things happen practically I saw with my eyes what happens here.
OK. I want to go back to my talk.

Then the fundamentalists they say we will never stop the fight. They start to fight. They don’t only fight the government but they kill everything. Even they kill some students who are working for the university.
They killed who are graduated from the university of health, they are doctors, nearly 17 students and teachers of the university. Also members of the community who are educators or elders, or the people who work for the rights, they kill also. The meaning [reason] they are killing, I don’t know really know. They killed some members of the ministry of our governments. 

All of this is very painful, the history of Somalia.

I remember one day there was a group of women. They work as NGO and they make a sanitation programme. They remove the rubbish in the town, central of the town, then they were bombed in the street. Blood, they killed more than 20 women, some are now without arms, without legs, some lost their eyes, inside of Mogadishu.
I don’t know a reason why they did it.

Everybody become crazy when they see what they have done. Because something is very very bullshit if you saw because nobody can find a real answer, because you don’t know what are their beliefs. Even if you try to make imagination it is difficult to make imagination because you don’t get points that you can say: oh the reason is this.
But this group they are enemy of every person in somalia. They are against all the people.

They collect the young people who are less than 18 years, they are 13 years, 14 years, 16 years and they make training. They use them as military. These things work because of the financial problems.

Because a lot of Somalians, they don’t have enough money for living. The situation is difficult and most of the children, they miss their parents. The ones that have no parents if they find somebody who says: “I will give you some money that you can live” and says a false story and he says in the future you will become a leader or something like that. But the way to succeed is to fight. But you don’t know what is behind the fighting. Because in our society we are Muslims. I can say 95-96% we have same religion, we have same culture, we have same language. Some people speak another accent but mostly is one thing.
We are one community.

This group they collect the children without families, without parents and also the children of poor families.

We can make imagination: most of the families miss father. The last 20 years was civil war, and who makes the fightings? The men, so a lot of fathers are killed, most families have only mother and the mothers don’t have enough money for the family. There is no social that will help her, she has no business, then the situation becomes very hard. Then she thinks to go alone and find the daily life, and always she is not staying with her children, the children did not get education, normal education in the school. There is no government schools, only private school. You have to pay money.

A lot of people they don’t have money that their children can learn something.Then their children, they go out, they are hopeless, they just go somewhere. You see children they are 10 years and smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Because of the situation and the mother doesn’t know what her baby is doing.

Then they collect this young people, give them a lot of money.

You know the salary of the people that work in the government is less than $100, for example the soldiers they get $50 a month. The people who are working in al-Shabaab, they get $600 a month, depending on the age they are paid.

Also some Somalis think that they get the money out of the country because they are spending a lot of money. But if you think yourself you can find the way to explain, when someone gets minimum $300 and they are not working in the government, they are not having factories, where did they find the money? That question we can ask ourselves. Most people believe that they find the money outside the country, we don’t know. We can not say that country supports, but it's clear that they find support outside. 

There is a lot of trouble and for this trouble we need to find solutions. And the most solutions depend on the international community. As we believe the international community is not ready to support us because the only solution is to support the government, and if the government becomes the power they can control the whole country and the people they get a little peace. 

I would like to conclude there for this topic.

Also, there is another idea concerning the pirates. As the pirates are not making only problems to the international society but also we have a lot of own problem inside our country with them.

Because Somalia has no factories, everything we bring from outside, from other countries and the people who are making business use ships to transfer food, material, everything is imported. Not export.

Everything comes from outside. People who make business for example, when they buy something outside, like for example this lighter. He paid a lot of money for transportation. Because there is no security on the way. 

Then this lighter was 1 Euro. When it is inside Somalia, it costs 3 Euro because of the transport and the security. The daily life is going upsides, getting expensive and the people they are poor they can not spend money to buy what they need for their lives. Then the pirates are most serious problem for us too, like for the international community. 

But the international community they didn't want to solve. The problem is here [he points in front of him, then turns his back and looks in the the other direction] and the international community looks there. They turn their back to our problem. 

We have many people who come from outside because of the machines and everything is coming from Europe. Guns, Europe is transferring to us guns, machines. All to make bad things comes from Europe. Not only Europe but other places. They got money from the warlords. They are dangerous, not only for Somalians but also for whites. 

The best way to stop the pirates…

Well, the pirates they are not living in the sea the whole time. They only go when they want to make an action. Many countries, even Germany, they send some military ship. America, China, France, a lot of countries, but they are not making freedom and security. It happens often that they catch one ship they got a lot of money they pay another people, a lot of people come who are ready to be a pirate. If international community give full support for the Somali government the government will spread in the whole country and then they fight for [take over] the land. If you are fighting for [take over] the land you can solve the problem. But only the sea - the international community they go all the time around in the seas. It doesn’t make sense.

And I would like to come to my conclusion about the pirates and the situation of Somalia, if you want that I trust you my own personal situation. .

Question: you said before that the situation got worse because the government was pushed from outside. And then you said the only solution is if the international community will help the government. Can you explain?

Good question. We want that WE choose who will become our leader. Now there is no chance, only possibility is to push it, because the government is only working in 20 km square and the rest of the country is out of control. 

Some sides they have peace. The North and the East have own administrations. The most problems have the Central Somalia to the far South. That’s the places that need to get a solution. And I believe we have only a little chance if we get support from international community to use the power to give more energy. Financial support so that they can make steps. 

Me, I don’t accept it if they send military help and something like that. 

Because the international support they give is support of the government, but it's not direct. Its coming from NGOs and NGOs they live in Kenya. They say we are international NGOs, like UNICEF, they are staying in Kenya and a lot of people they are dying from malnutrition, old people, there is a lot of diseases like diarrhoea, malaria. The NGOs say its insecure, even some preachers control their properties. 

The NGOs, they are not working and the people they are dying for hunger, for bad health. Some don’t have a place they can live against the rain and the sun, wind, something like that.

Question: you said in the North they have their own administration and all works well. Why is isn't it possible to do this also in the South?

First, Somalia had 5 regions. The time of the colonisation, second world war or so, a lot of years ago,
when Europe divided Africa and shared it and colonised it, Somalia was colonised from Italy, Britain, France, also Ethiopia colonised part of Somalia.

We are 5 states, one state was out of Somalia called Djibouti. Djibouti was member of Somalia but when they got independent in 1997 something, they said we want to be alone. Also the North of somalia colonised from the British is called Somaliland. Somaliland is the first state that got independent from the colonisation of the British. The South was colonised from Italy, also the far South was colonised from the British. And the British they are in Kenya, one Somalia state is now member in Kenya and one in Ethiopia: Ogadenia, you know it? One is own government called Djibouti. Only remain 2 parts from the 5 states. Somaliland British colonising, South Italian colonising. Somaliland get one day freedom as the first state to take freedom 1960. 

Then South, they get also freedom from Italy. Then the North, they come to the South to share without agreement. They say we are all Somalians, we take the name of Somalia Republic, they live their own name, Somaliland, they say we should share with our brothers, we should also search for the other parts one in Kenya, one in Ethiopia and Djibouti. The two states made fighting to get Djibouti from the French, they fight for the freedom. They succeed to get to Djibouti and the people there said: we wanted to be alone!

But I support the Djiboutis because if they are not alone they would also have the problem. Now they are own government and United Nations are accepting Djibouti as a country just like Deutschland.

Then, when the military, the governments who work with military, the first group was Somalilanders. They made an organisation called SNM, Somali National Movement. 1988 they start fighting, they make war. 1980-90 they fight how to get freedom for independence, then they succeed the fight. But they say now we are separate from Somalia and our name is Somaliland and we are freedom country, but the United Nations they do not accept it. They are waiting for the other Somalia. There is difficulty to make connection because the Somalian people they are not accepting. The government had killed a lot of population. 

The former government was military, they collect elderly people and killed lots of Somalilanders, they made them pressure not to speak. 

They said Somalia made us a lot of problems we don’t want to come back and be one with Somalia, we want our freedom. They have democratic process because they choose on their own president and they vote like Europeans.

Far east, there are mostly two tribes, the assembly of them decide to make own administration and we wait Somalia to get solution and the name for Puntland. Puntland is a state. They say we are state but we are not out of Somalia. We are waiting what is going on with Somalia.

The government is federal government of Somalia because they are different states but some people are member of the federal governments, some Somalilanders also. Main problem is South and Central somalia.

I am 10 months here, I am new, I come in February 2010.

My father died when I was 3 years, my mother she was my parent who cared about me and I don’t have any other family, no brothers, no sisters. Also my father did not have brothers he was alone. And me too alone [only child].

When I was 19 years old I married. I was living in Mogadishu, I was a business man. I have own shop, am selling different things, for example three parts had my shop: one part cosmetics the other part is selling sweets the other part is stereo. Like I sell for videos, movies, CDs. My life is OK, when I was there.

There is a lot of problem but in my own personality I was a little bit OK, better as before. 

Then one day al-Shabaab they come to me in my shop and they give me information, they are prohibiting to listen music. Also they don’t like cosmetics because some women want to make a bit white, some creams that make decoration they say it's verboten also. 

Because in Somalia, we are living as tribes. And the tribes are minority/majority. The majority they have power. The minority have no power. 

I am member of one of the minority tribes its Eelay, very little tribe. Mostly the majority live in the jungle, but me, I was born in the city. I was lucky. Most people live in the jungle in the south. 

Then they told me that I should close my shop and to leave, and I said how can it be possible? Then they said it's concerning you, that's your problem, it's not our problem but we tell you that we are working because they are controlling the place that I live. I was surprised but I did not give them my OK because I want to see what is happening. I don’t know what is behind. 

After two days they come to me to my shop, they have machine guns and are covered their faces, only the eyes can be seen, for shooting. They run from this side of the shop they shoot me here, then I fall down then I made a lot of bleeding, my nose, my mouth, the earth is going backside because my lungs also damaged, then I fall down. Also one of my customers is wounded inside my shop.

Then people take me to the hospital. 4 months I was in hospital. Then I stopped my business. When I come back to my home, I left everything also my mother she made a little business and covered the life of my family, cause we live together, and she cares so much for me and my children. Then I also have a lot of customers and a lot of friends, specially young ones. The people who like more the music and to watch movie is the young ones, then I have a lot of connections with them. Then I try to make mobilisation to tell the young people: don't go there! Because if you go there you kill someone then you die and the government will punish you. 

Because our religion says if you kill somebody, god will touch you and you will go to hell. Then I explain more to be against them, then they got the news and they come to my home but at that time I was not in the home. They come, they search my home and ask my wife and she said he is not here. But they didn't believe. They go inside with power search the home, but I was not there!

They went out and I come later, then my wife informed me what happened, then I escaped. I went to my other home, there I was hiding for 2 months. I never go out in that 2 months. December 2009 and January 2010. Also my wife she did not come to me because we are afraid if she tries to visit me, that they follow her. We were very careful to not find me. 

They contact with my handy [cell phone], then they say to me we touch you! I will kill you! We will never miss you, we will find you! Then first time that we will find you, we will kill you because they send this message to a lot of people, and if they find, they kill. If they send you message and you are escaping that place it's possible they can find you. 

If you have been marked you are running. 

But you don’t know who they are because they are civilian, but when they make operation they cover their face to not recognize them. They shoot you, then they leave you, and even the people who saw never say why are you doing that? They never can say he is that man. 

Then my family made preparation, they sell some land, our land, and got some money and reached somebody who can take me out of Somalia. 

That time it was the first time that I am travelling for my life. Really, because I never go out, I stayed in my place till I grown up. Oh, it was very hard, I was afraid but some person gave me CD with music, she said you have to treat yourself, if they notice you are afraid they will find you, catch you, then you lost.

Then you have to make busy. I said OK, I will try it. We are flying and then we come to Frankfurt. Then we take train here, a fast train and go to another town. First time in my life in a train. First time I used an airplane. I knew it only from TV, airplanes and trains, I have not seen practically. It was the first time I was doing everything practically. When we arrived, we go out of the train, then my companion said goodbye.

I was frightened, I am thinking too much, my heart is beating too much, it was making a lot of beating, because I don’t know what is happening. I don’t have any idea concerning Europe and rules here.

The person that helped me said now you should treat your problem, you are safe don’t worry, there is no al-Shabaab here, nothing. I was half an hour alone, it was cold and then I find some black people because I am afraid of white people, so I don’t know what I am saying: please excuse me can you speak English. He said yes. I said, I am new Somali, I want to find the police somewhere were I can ask for an asylum. He said don’t worry, I will bring you. Then he took me with the U-Bahn [subway], first time I saw U-Bahn, we got to Ausländerbehörde [Foreigners Authority], here you go on your own, I don’t go with you!

So I went in and I said: hello I am from Somalia, I am new, I come now. He was saying: what?

And I was afraid because he was security and he had a uniform. In Somalia, the police they beat people, the military they make bad things. Uniforms are military or police, the people who have uniform have more authority, then they can do what they want, you can not defend yourself. That's why I was afraid what he is doing. 

He gave me a paper, said write your name, age, address. I write and am sitting, strange situation I thought, then he took me for picture, fingers, they said: go to the waiting room.

Anyway I want to make a conclusion: I went to Landesamt [immigration office], they invite me for interview, first a short interview, later a long interview. Then they send me to the Lager [refugee centre]. They asked me 25 questions. I answered all of them and they said be patient till we give you a decision and still I am waiting for the decision. 

Thanks for sharing your experience!
13.12.2010 Frankfurt