Mogadishu, 30 June 2017 – A symposium bringing together Somali diaspora returnees and homeland communities ended yesterday with a call for regular dialogue to strengthen relations with between the two groups.
Participants at the two-day meeting said it was important for diaspora returnees and locals to dialogue regularly to understand each other and iron out the false perceptions that exist among them.
The symposium also agreed to embark on awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of peaceful coexistence and the need for stronger partnerships in rebuilding the country after decades of conflict.
The recommendations were read by Naima Aden Elmi, the Chairperson of Save Somali Youth Organization (SASOYO), at the end of the symposium which was attended by government officials, members of the civil society, businesspersons, women and youth among others.
“We have agreed to set up committees in our subsequent sessions. Both sides will be represented in these committees which will be tasked with taking forward the process so that we deepen collaboration and we arrive at a common objective,” Ms. Naima stated at the end of the symposium organized by the Department of Diaspora in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and SASOYO with support from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Ms. Naima added; “the outcome of the workshop exceeded our expectations and we intend to hold more discussions as requested by the delegates so that we accomplish the tasks ahead. This will be an ongoing programme.”
Muna Hassan Mohamed, a local participant, hailed the workshop, saying it provided both groups the opportunity to engage and resolve their differences.
“It was an important workshop in that it brought together diaspora returnees and the locals. The engagements were amicable as the diaspora returnees and their local counterparts held discussions so as to get to understand each other,” Ms. Muna stated.
Nuzaiba Abdullahi Ali, also a local participant, echoed Ms. Muna’s sentiments, saying the groups learned important lessons from each other.
During the discussions it was revealed that individuals born and raised in the country view themselves as having more rights than their counterparts returning home from the diaspora, while the latter believe they are better placed to contribute to the peace and stability of the country, owing to their superior education, experience and exposure.
The locals have also accused the diaspora returnees of taking up the plum jobs in government leaving them marginalized.
Mohamed Mohamoud Sheik, one of the diaspora returnees, however noted that the differences can be resolved through dialogue and appreciating the role each group plays in rebuilding Somalia.
“I think it is a really good point that we have reached to understand each other. I think more events like this will help further integrate the locals and the diaspora returnees. It is a matter of just talking to each other,” Mr. Mohamed observed.
Nimco Ahmed, another diaspora returnee, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the symposium and called for similar meetings to be held in the federal states.
“I would definitely like this kind of consultations to continue because not everyone was here both today and yesterday. There is a larger section of the society within the regions and towns who probably have these concerns as well. So we should definitely broaden these consultations,” Ms. Nimco stated.
Prof Abdilatif Egeh, an academician, asked the participants who were mainly youth to find solutions to the challenges facing Somalia.
“The majority of people here are youth and you will benefit from this country especially if solutions to the challenges facing Somalia come from you. There’s a famous saying that when we pull together we can achieve more (united we stand). I urge you to maintain that position,” Prof Egeh told the participants.
AMISOM Political Officer, Dr. Walters Samah, said the African Union Mission will continue supporting initiatives aimed at stabilising and unifying Somalia.
“One of the reasons AMISOM is supporting this great initiative is because cooperation and partnership between Somali Diaspora Returnees and Homeland community is critical for the stability and long-term development of Somalia,” Dr. Walters said.