It has been notoriously difficult for Syrian refugees to find countries that are not only welcoming but where there are job opportunities. Enter… Somalia.
Hosam is a dentist from Aleppo who says that there was no point relocating to Turkey, Lebanon or Europe because of the difficulty for refugees finding work there so he went online. “I Googled places that don’t have dentists. The first one that came up was [Somalia’s capital] Mogadishu. I went there with my wife and baby, without knowing a single soul, only to discover it was like Aleppo. But there was one difference — my earnings tripled…. We heard there was safety in Hargeisa and other Syrians living there, so we came here. We have a small community here of doctors, dentists and engineers.”
Another dentist from Damascus offered another perspective. “I remember a top United Nations man warning that Syria would become the next Somalia. And now I am here. Of all places.” Referring to the British journalist who interviewed him, “You are British, aren’t you? Your people don’t want us. But Somalis do.”
“The wars in Syria and Yemen are unfortunate,” says a Somali friend of the journalist as they traveled together on a freshly tarmacked road in Somaliland. “But in some ways those conflicts have been good for Somalis. They have brought us people with skills we do not have. This smooth and amazing road, for instance, was built by Syrian refugees.”