Mogadishu (UM) – As another Youth Conference concluded in Mogadishu this week, many interviewed by UM felt it was a window dressing exercise which had no relevance to their lives.
The meeting which was organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sport was held in Mogadishu between 26-27 December and selected Youth representatives participated. The meeting discussed the current state of the youth and their future prospects in Somalia.
“I attended but did not feel this meeting was any different from all the other meetings,” said Abdi Samoow Barre, an unemployed graduate.
“Jobs, security and our future in government and politics was discussed but it just felt like talk. We wanted real outcomes like Jobs,” said Samira Nur, a youth activist. “Youth are the majority and we have nothing now.”
Many interviewed felt that there was too much talk of assisting youth but no real or tangible action from the government. The key priorities for the youth were jobs and security.
“The government has promised to create jobs but we all know getting a job depends on who your clan is and what power they have or who you know. We want a better Somalia for our future but no one is listening to us or includes us,” said a graduate waiter who did not want to be named. “I feel sad because when I am working serving tea to them some Ministers ask what I am doing and they promise to help me find a better job but they do not help because I am not from their tribe. It is hard being young in Somalia.”
The message of struggle and poverty echoed through all interviews and many youth felt that leaving Somalia is still the only option for them to consider.
“I don’t know what more the government can do because security is bad, economy is weak and there are too many political problems in Somalia. If I wait for these to be fixed I will miss my opportunity to develop, so going abroad is the only hope I have now,” said a Masters graduate from Ethiopia who recently returned home from his studies. “to be educated and have no future in my country is hard for me.”
Most interviewed felt that the government is not in a position to help them because it is so weak itself with scarce resources. Most also felt that the private sector was too small to employ more people and even if opportunities arose, it will be given on the basis of tribe. Almost all felt that the support for starting their own businesses was a sham becuase access to financing is hard and the customer base is too low because people are poor.
“When the government runs out of ideas it says start businesses but how shall we fund it and who will we sell to?” said Mohamed Muhumad Abdi, whose restaurant business just closed. “Add to all this closed roads, insecurity and no clear government policy or support and the only thing left is to leave this country.”