HORNDIPLOMAT-Burhan Jama Mohamed, 25, was in his final year of education studies at college when he migrated from Garowe to Europe a year ago.
He said goodbye to his wife, pregnant with their first child, and travelled through Ethiopia and Sudan to Libya and then across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. He paid $8,500 on the journey that he hoped would lead him to a better life.
But Burhan was hugely disappointed in Europe. After nine months in Switzerland, he made the decision to return home to Somalia. Radio Ergo’s reporter in Garowe, Abdirahman Mohamed Haji, met Burhan and asked him what made him change his mind. The following is a transcript of the interview.
Burhan: I have learnt many lessons while I was in Europe. I didn’t get a better life, nor food, housing and money. I was living in a camp and there was no hope that my asylum application would be accepted. I realized that people wait too long before they are granted asylum and only a few people are accepted and given the legal documents to live in the country. There are many people [i.e. migrants] who are living in despair and have lost hope in this life after their applications were rejected. For example, there was a day we rescued a young Somali man, who was with us in the camp, trying to commit suicide by throwing himself in front of a train. He was regretting about the money he had spent getting to Europe and worried about the treatment he received there. He was also worried about the life of his family back home. He was not alone in that situation – there are many young people who are stressed and confused. I refused to live such a stressful life and that is why I decided to come back, while I am still physically and mentally healthy.
Abdirahman: Why did you migrate in the first place?
Burhan: I thought that life in Europe would be sweeter than in Africa. I expected to get a permanent residence and employment, and a recognised and respected passport so that I can travel around the world. I believed that there was enough wealth in Europe. These dreams were the reason behind my migration to Europe. But when I reached there I discovered that life is not all roses. I didn’t expect that life in Europe would be like that and I lost hope. Feelings of anxiety and distress engulfed me.
Abdirahman: How did you manage to come back to Somalia, since you didn’t have the right documents to travel?
Burhan: The idea came to my mind a few months before I returned home. I contacted the immigration authorities in Switzerland and requested them to return me to Somalia. They asked me a lot of questions, and who was to pay for my ticket. I realized they were wasting my time and I decided to contact IOM and asked them for help. After a collaboration with the Somali Embassy in Geneva, IOM gave me a document that enabled me to travel back home. The organisation also paid my air ticket and gave me $2,500 as money for expenses.
Abdirahman: So now you have returned to Somalia what are your plans?
Burhan: I have been home in the country for less than two months. I went back to resume studies at Garowe Teachers Education College. I started the classes again from where I left off. I re-united with my wife and my young daughter, who was born a month after I left the country. I am working hard to get any type of a job. Previously I used to be too proud to do certain jobs, but now I have learned in Europe that a job is just a job.