• Due to unemployment, peer pressure to war, thousands of Somali youths have over the years migrated to Europe in search of a better life by undertaking a long perilous journey first across the Sahara desert and then across the Mediterranean sea.
  • For many families and administrations in the Somali regions of Somaliland and Puntland, this youth flight is seen as a national disaster.
  • One of the most popular incentives deployed has been to buy them a small car, which can be operated as a taxi in bigger towns and cities to occupy them as well as act as a form of employment.

‘Uchungu wa Mwana ajuaye ni Mzazi’ is a Swahili proverb which roughly translates to ‘Only a parent knows the pain of a child’, well this proverb is alive and well in this small war torn African Nation.

Due to unemployment, peer pressure to war, thousands of Somali youths have over the years migrated to Europe in search of a better life by undertaking a long perilous journey first across the Sahara desert and then across the Mediterranean sea.

Somalilanders celebrate their countries independence day Somalilanders celebrate their countries independence day

For many families and administrations in the Somali regions of Somaliland and Puntland, this youth flight is seen as a national disaster.

Hargeisa, Somaliland Hargeisa, Somaliland

The long journey to Europe, known in Somali slang as ‘going on tahriib’ loosely translated to going on Migration has forced many families and communities to came up with strategies to persuade their sons to stay at home.

One of the most popular incentives deployed has been to buy them a small car, which can be operated as a taxi in bigger towns and cities to occupy them as well as act as a form of employment.

Somaliland gas station Somaliland gas station

In Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland these taxis are known as “hooyo ha tahriibin” – which roughly translates to a mother begging: “My son, do not go on tahriib.”

The strategy has become so popular that some are beginning to worry whether the taxi market can absorb any more newcomers.

A taxi in Somaliland. A taxi in Somaliland.

So why would Somaliland households that supposedly favor migration stop their family members from migrating?

The cost of migrating to Europe is immense; first there is danger of dying at the sea. Some young migrants also simply starve or are murdered by smugglers and traffickers when things go wrong.

Ambassador Hotel Hargeisa Ambassador Hotel Hargeisa

Secondly families have to foot the bill after their sons are held captive by smugglers for a ransom.

In such emergencies, families have few choices but to reach out to relatives, borrow money or sell valuable assets.

The last of these options is disastrous, as racing against time against time to raise the money means they often have to sell them at throw away prices.

A Taxi driver in hargeisa, Somaliland A Taxi driver in hargeisa, Somaliland

Thirdly the emotion burden and disruption to ordinary life for those left behind, as they wait to hear whether their loved ones have made it to Europe, is also unbearable.

Other strategy parents have deployed is to promises their children that they will send them abroad for higher education, mostly to the wider East and the Horn of Africa region, but in some cases as far as India, Pakistan, Malaysia or Turkey.