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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nation Asked to Help Smash Cartels Trafficking Somalis Into Country

by Galgalo Bocha and Mathias Ringa
The Nation

February 9, 2011

Somalia is seeking Kenya's assistance to smash cartels that traffic hundreds of desperate Somalis into the country.

The cartels, according to Somali ambassador Mohamed Ali Nur, take advantage of the insecurity in the war-torn country to smuggle Somalis into Kenya at hefty fees.

Those behind the illegal activity, he said, make huge amounts of money from the Somalis fleeing war after they are promised jobs and a better life in South Africa and the United States.

Mr Nur said the culprits also rape the women they attempt to bring into Kenya, adding that so far there were four victims in Nairobi.

Investigating cases

The embassy is investigating several cases where women were raped and their property stolen, he added.

"We have several cases where men, women and children were abandoned in the middle of nowhere," he said in an interview with the Nation on Monday.

"That is why the transitional Somali government is seeking assistance from Kenya so that the people behind this scam can be brought to book."

Last year alone, close to 2,000 Somalis were arrested in several parts of Coast Province, mainly Msambweni, while being ferried by private motorists along Lunga Lunga Road.

The bulk of the victims were young Somalis who confirmed to security agencies that they were on their way to South Africa, from where they would move to European countries in search of jobs.

The ambassador hinted that he would seek audience with the police to raise the concern of President Sheikh Ahmed's Transitional Federal Government on the matter.

"I am looking forward to getting an appointment with senior police officials in Coast Province to also hear their side of story," he said.

He appealed to the Kenyan Government to release 63 suspected illegal immigrants being held at the Central Police Station in Mombasa, saying the majority were aged 12 and 15.

The children and adults, he said, should be taken to refugee camps in Kenya since deporting them would cause a lot of misery as peace was still elusive.

Taken to refugee camps

"We appeal to the Kenyan Government to release the children who are being held at a Mombasa police station so that they can be taken to refugee camps," he said.

He, however, called on Somalis who intend to travel to Kenya to ensure they had legal documents to avert arrest.


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