Thursday, November 3, 2016

A letter to my two cousins

Refugee crisis has recently become global epidemic issue making 2016 the deadliest year on record in history as thousands of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while trying desperately to reach Europe. However, when the news of the refugees is covered in various media outlets around the world, my country (Somalia) is more often mentioned in the headlines and the victims are always included if they are not the most in number.Somali migrants (mainly the youth) have always been taking this illegal catastrophic trip since the fall of the former central government in 1991 due to insecurity, better education and lack of employment opportunities.
This has became a route for a generation, some made it calling it “the unguaranteed fantasy” after they met results which was extremely below their expectation when they have reached their final destination, some never made it because their fate was over before reaching their destination.  There are central players that play pivotal role in facilitating the migration of the people, they are called “the smugglers or human traffickers” who, to the best of their ability try to convince and sometime force the young boys and girls to make the choice. “Suffer few days and enjoy the rest of your life” that is one common phrase mostly used by the traffickers showing an illusionary life to their victims.

A journey that has beginnings but has unknown endings

The trip is very long, harsh and full of traumatic moments, the migrants have to cross number of countries and must experience the most harrowing circumstances human being can face. It all starts in Somalia as the country of departure and it doesn’t have specific destination country, it ends somewhere in Europe and it doesn’t matter which country although most of the migrants prefer to make it to the Scandinavians, UK, Germany or the Netherland. Nevertheless, before reaching the ‘promised land’, one has to start his/her trip from Somalia and cross, Ethiopia, Sudan, Libya. Each of these countries, there are number of traffickers and in the middle of the journey, one has to contact with a network of traffickers along the road.  According to survivors, the most two difficult stages of the trip is crossing the Sahara desert (the largest hot desert in the world) that geographically stretches from Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean covering most North African countries. During the road trip in the desert which usually takes 4 to 6 days (depends on the knowledge of the migrants to the directions) some of them might die because of hunger & thirst.

The worst part

The worst part of the journey however is, crossing the Mediterranean Sea and it is this part where the lives of my two lovely cousins, Mohamed and Abdullahi perished. Truly unforgettable two souls, whose memories will always remain part of my life.

Abdullahi died in 2012 at the age of 30, he was loving and thoughtful brother to me. He was talented person with extraordinary skills of arts, he was fluently speaking Arabic, English and some rusty Spanish he was born in 1982 in Mogadishu and moved to United Arab Emirate (UAE) with his family at age of 5 and lived most of his time in UAE where he finished his high school before moving to Iraq to pursue his degree studies. Unfortunately shortly after he spent two years in Iraq, the Iraq war has erupted, then Abdullah moved to Mogadishu, Somalia. He finished his degree in Mogadishu University majoring Physics and Math. He then went to Sudan where he did his post graduate studies. He came back to Somalia in 2007 and become lecturer in number of universities in Mogadishu. He married in 2009 to his longtime fiancĂ© Barlin, shortly after they were blessed with baby a girl called “Alia”.

It was in June in 2012, I was in my office as it was busy working day, I have seen three missed calls from my sister and one message. That message was perhaps one of the most excruciating text I have ever read in my life. The message said “Hi Abdifatah, May Allah have mercy on Abdullahi” a prayer usually read after one passes away. I was shocked and become speechless not just because he was my cousin but how close we were to each other and most surprisingly the way I used to say every time we meet “come on, draw me (knowing his aptitude and talent for arts)”. One thing I loved about him was his artistic expression of everything in life, he had a book full of drawings reflecting his childhood life in UAE and his experience in Iraq and Somalia. That was the darkest day in my life when Abdullahi left me in this world without saying me “see you again brother”.

It was again another terrible day for me in July 2016, when I heard the sad news of my cousin Mohamed (sibling of Abdullahi) died while following the path of his late brother. Mohamed was another remarkable and kind cousin, a more like brother to me. He was too young to leave this world; just 19
His journey started from Somalia and ended in Libya, according to a survivor whom we spoke informed us about his death. Mohamed and other group of migrants were suffocated inside truck container while they were heading to Tripoli.

This is the letter I am sending to my cousins and to all other Somali youth who lost their young lives in this arduous odyssey.

“Dear Mohamed Abdullahi
My Allah have mercy on you and grant you the highest position of the heaven, May your souls rest in paradise eternally.
You left this world without saying me “see you again” but I will always keep both of you in my prayers,
You meant everything to me, you were undoubtedly more than cousins to me,  the days has passed quickly after you passed away but to me I am still counting and I will keep counting. All I have now is pictures of you.
For Abdullahi, I will let your daughter ( Alia) know that you were loving and a caring father, I will let her know everything about you, your personality, and your decency which were beyond description, how you made her smile in her early childhood times.
Finally, I will let all Somali youth how perilous that journey is, how it has taken your lives and the lives of many other fellow brothers and sisters, I will let you them know to find out every other possible alternative to this journey. I will also let everyone that my love to both of you in unconditional
Rest in Paradise
Your brother

Abdifatah Hassan Ali “

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