Jamal Osman reports on the boom in Somaliland attracting migrants seeking jobs and opportunities from Yemen, Ethiopia – and London.
Faisal Kiber used to be an estate agent in Wembley, now he is a camel herder: “Over there, I worried about the letters, council tax, electricity bills, water bills. [In London] you worry about daily life… here no one is going to send you letters!”
North of war-ravaged Somalia, in the region of Somaliland which declared independence in 1991, they have managed to rebuild. Though not internationally recognised the region has its own political system and a successful private business sector – encouraging a building boom that is bringing jobs and opportunities.
Yemen’s descent into chaos brings boat-loads of refugees across the Gulf of Aden – with 5,000 arriving in the past two months alone. Entrepeneurial Ethiopians are migrating to take advantage of the opportunities, happy to do jobs like hairdressing which most Somalis won’t consider.
Migrants are coming for the same reason that many Somali’s now leave, to seek work for their families in Hargeisa. Many are now returning home, having witnessed the harsh realities of migrating to Europe.
Adam, one Somali who recently returned from London says there are more opportunities here. “There’s a big gap in the market because there are no skilled workers here,” he says.
Camel-herder Faisal appreciates the quality of life in Somaliland, compared to his memories of London, saying: “You can’t compare the nomadic way of life, it’s stress free.”
Faisal Kiber has returned to Somaliland after 24 years in London
Despite the booming economy, the younger generation continue to leave, seduced by the idea of the Europe they imagine through social media’s selective lens. The challenge for the country to convince its young to stay.