Jibril's story: a cautionary migration tale

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Dhalinyaro ka shaqaysanaysa wadankooda Sawir/kaydka/Ergo Photo | Dhalinyaro ka shaqaysanaysa wadankooda Sawir/kaydka/Ergo

25 September, 2014 SHABELLADA HOOSE


Jibril Mohamed, 26, was deported from Saudi Arabia a year ago, and returned back to his home district of Lego, in Lower Shabelle region.

Jibril made two attempts to cross into Saudi Arabia via Yemen, in a bid to escape conflict and economic uncertainty in Somalia.

His first attempt in 2009 and was thwarted by the Saudi border guards. They arrested him and deported him. But undeterred he entered Saudi Arabia a second time in 2011, only to be deported back to Somalia after having stayed one and half years in Saudi without any papers.

Radio Ergo’s Fowzia Omar interviewed him by phone and asked what forced him to leave Somalia in the first place.

Jibril: I was told lies by some people who said I could make money and get a decent job in Saudi Arabia or the other Arab countries.

Ergo: Tell us how your first trip started?

Jibril: I took a lorry from Lego in Lower Shabelle to Hargeisa, and then arrived in Lawya’ddo town at the border between Somalia and Djibouti.

I couldn’t cross to the Djibouti side because I had no proper documents, so had to pay one of the “people smugglers” 10 dollars to assist me to cross into Djibouti. After a while, the human trafficker ran away and disappeared. I was so worried, but carried on my journey. I survived a two-day trek to Djibouti. It was really very difficult. On reaching the Djibouti capital, I paid illegal traffickers 150 dollars to smuggle me along with some other migrants into Yemen. They took us from the Djibouti capital to Obock, on Djibouti’s northern coast, across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen in a lorry full of migrants, mostly Somalis. When we got to Obock, the driver wanted money and threatened to hold all of us hostages.  We gave him some money to continue on our trip.

Meanwhile, I was running out of money, and it was difficult to collect some money my parents had sent to me. The process of getting money was complicated as it first went via a Somali remittance company in the capital, and then got transferred a second time to a local one in Obokh.

Ergo: Then from there what happened?

Jibril: I reached Yemen safely. I went to Al-Kharaz refugee camp. I was taken to some Yemeni human traffickers whom I paid 300 dollars to help me cross the Saudi border. Unfortunately, when we got to the Saudi border, we were intercepted by the Saudi border guards. They took me to a prison in Jeddah where I was detained for one and a half months, and was later deported back to Somalia.

Ergo: Tell us about your second trek into Saudi Arabia.

Jibril: It was back in 2011. I left my hometown for Bosasso in northeastern Somalia – this time using a different route. Human traffickers put us on a small overloaded boat to Yemen. Among the migrants aboard were three children between the ages of 7 and 14. They were forcibly separated from their mother and other two siblings, who were also migrating. The traffickers told the mother the boat was full and couldn’t take more passengers. We reached Yemen safely, and went to Al- Kharaz refugee camp with the three children. The eldest of the children gave us the telephone contact of his father who was in Saudi Arabia. The father asked us to take his children to a refugee family in the camp. Their mother also arrived in Yemen three days later.

How long did you stay in Al-Kharaz camp?

Jibril: I was in Al-Kharaz camp for just a few days, because I didn’t want to stay long in Yemen. I paid Yemeni smugglers who took me and other migrants in a lorry. When we got near the Saudi border, they ordered us to jump from the vehicle. We did so and started running and trying to dodge being spotted. We trekked for more than 10 days facing several life-threatening hurdles. Finally, we took advantage of the Friday Khutbah prayers and crossed to the Saudi side of the border. I stayed there for one year and six months before being arrested and deported back to Somalia.

Ergo: how were you deported?

Jibril: I got work in a factory that processes dates. One day the police caught me near the factory and arrested me for being without proper documents in the country. I was deported back to Mogadishu. I won’t go again. I would like to urge my fellow Somalis to remain in their country and stop leaving their country.

Ergo: How much money in total did you spend on both trips?

Jibril: I spent over 3,000 dollars!

Ergo: Where did you get that kind of money?

Jibril: From my parents. They helped me so much. Imagine I couldn’t pay them back even after working for one and half years in Saudi Arabia.

Ergo: How are you now coping with life in your home town?

Jibril: I am satisfied with life in my home town. I go to work. I feel happy staying around my family. Fleeing your country to exile in other countries isn’t easy. Life can be even tougher than at home. In Saudi Arabia I met fellow Somalis who went crazy! Others were so stressed and even forgot to shave or cut their hair short. 

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