Friday, December 16, 2016

Which way for the Somali refugees under Donald Trump’s administration?

By Nicholas Mungai - Correspondent (Nairobi), December 8, 2016

“Personally I believe any chance we had to be resettled in the US has faded away with the dust. My personal message to [the President Elect Donald John] Trump would have been to reconsider his stand on the Somalis since we are peace loving community not extremist and violent people. We deserve a chance to be resettled and live in peace.” This is what Abdiaziz Hirsi from the Hagadera Camp in the Dadaab Refugee complex located in North Eastern Kenya said when I sought to know how refugees in the camp had received the outcome of the November 2016 US elections.

Just like many refugees in Dadaab, Hirsi has anxiously been waiting for an opportunity to be relocated to the United States of America. “The main reason I am here in the camp is to wait for my chance to be resettled just like most of my friends who were lucky to have been resettled in the US.” Hirsi who has been in the refugee camp since 1993 believes, “America is the land of dreams and endless possibilities” and reveals to me that he dreams of it every day. Hirsi’s family fast settled at Utango Camp – one of the two initial camps of the Dadaab Refugee Complex before their relocation to the Hagadera camp where he went through Primary and Secondary education. Utango and Marafo camps were established in 1992 to host refugees who were fleeing civil war in Somalia.
In the November 2016 US election, Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump defeated his rival Secretary Hillary Clinton of the Democratic Party contrary to the expectations of many across the world, and polling within the United States. In the final hours of his campaign, the President elect stopped over at Minneapolis – St Paul Airport where in his widely criticized speech warned, “A Trump will not admit any refugees without the support of the local community where they are being placed.” He decried the suffering the people of Minnesota had been subjected to by terrorism allegedly from unscreened refugees. “Why, just yesterday we allowed entry of a known refugee from the truth who keeps threatening American citizens with death, disasters, and a trip to hell?” 
Abdiaziz Hirsi says that his dream and that of his family for a better life in the US was very much alive until the news of Donald Trump’s win found its way into the refugee camp. He is also of the opinion that situation is further complicated by the perception that the camp is a security threat to Kenya. “Yes, we have waited for too long, I was very optimistic that soon rather than later I and my family members will get their chance to be resettled but unfortunately Mr Trump’s win and Kenya's unfounded accusations of the camps have complicated everything and created a pool of pessimism and disappointment everywhere, unless president Trump reconsider his campaign promises concerning the Somalis and Muslims in general.”

Abdirahman of the Dadaab Voices, a social media platform by young refugees in the camp is skeptical if the Trump Administration will continue the plans that the President Obama administration had put in place for the resettlement of Somali refugees. We don’t foresee Obama’s promise fulfilled under Trump leadership. He had said his administration is doubling the number of refugees being resettled. Trump will be sworn in on 20th January 2017, which means he will be responsible and will be in control of all foreign and domestic policies. Our main worry is if Trump fulfils all his campaign policies on refugees, Muslims and other minority groups.”

That Donald Trump led a campaign that appeared to pit him against minority groups, Muslims and refugees, is a fact stuck in Adirahman’s mind. He is alert to reports that during his campaign visit to Minnesota, the President elect asked for a thorough vetting of refugees and asylum seekers entering America. He holds the opinion that Donald Trump might have anchored his position about the vetting of refugees on a wrong understanding of the refugees vetting process. “He [Trump] doesn’t know much about the resettlement process and what it takes; refugees go through numerous vetting, check-ups including their background. Refugees also wait to be resettled on average for three to four years from the first time the UNHCR interviews a family or an individual.” ...Read more>>>>>>
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