Unique content from The Refugee - a magazine written by those living in refugee camps - will now be showcased on FilmAid's blog.
The Refugee Magazine seeks to inform, entertain, as well as give a voice to the voiceless. It was started in 2009 by people living in Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya who had a passion for journalism but with no access to national newspapers. The group reached out to FilmAid for support on their project, and since then 10 editions of The Refugee newsletter have been published and distributed free of charge among three major refugee camps in the country.
The magazine addresses popular topics such as culture, gender and business while also aiming to provide useful information about issues frequently faced by those living in the camps, such as repatriation and access to medicine.
This week we are sharing an abridged article by Mohamed Bashi Mohamed from The Refugee, Dadaab Edition No. 1, 2014.
'Is it the right time for home?' by Mohamed Bashi Mohamed
This is the question that has for months now been running through the unsettled minds of refugees living in Dadaab camps in Fafi region, since the Government of Kenya, Federal Somali Government and the UNHCR signed a tripartite agreement to repatriate Somali refugees voluntarily in a span of three years. The move that was initiated by the Kenyan side, after terrorists linked to the terror group, Al-Shabaab, took control of a shopping mall in a siege that lasted for three days. Dadaab refugees may feel that though the decision was reached with good intent, the timing however may not be right as there are still some basic structures lacking in Somalia. Moving such a large number of people in a very short time to a place may result in a humanitarian catastrophe. The move may also be a catalyst to chaos and lack of order in the already unstable country.
The move will have a devastating effect on women and children. It will also impact with the basic education that majority of refugees. This may create a vacuum in the flow of information and render a good number of able people jobless.
The tripartite agreement by the Kenyan government, the Somali government and the UNHCR on the repatriation of Somali refugees has left many worried. Most notably young refugees who attend school. The agreement came months after Kenyatta University opened up a campus in Dadaab town making Higher Education available to refugees, humanitarian workers and the local community.
The decision to voluntarily repatriate refugees has been welcomed by some but the majority of refugees are still uncertain about the whole process. It is reported that more than 60,000 refugees have already returned to Somalia.
I spoke to Hassan, a Form One student living in Hagadera refugee camp to find out his feelings towards repatriation. “I am not happy” he says, “My major plan of arrival in this camp was to migrate to either South Africa or Libya so that I enjoy my world but when I reached Dadaab, I realized the value of education”. Hassan's story is one that many can relate to. The question that still lingers in his mind is when he will be repatriated, will he complete his education or will he have to start again upon reaching his homeland?
Mohamed Bashi Mohamed