Farah Yusuf: "I can raise my children with clean money"

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Farah Yusuf, 31, is a fisherman in Bosasso, the commercial capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia.

A father of two, Yusuf had for two years ferried illegal migrants to Yemen from Bosasso, 1,500km northeast of Mogadishu. The port city is popular with would-be migrants from southern Somalia and Ethiopia. Five months ago, Yusuf stopped ferrying migrants after meeting a lobby group trying to convince boat owners to stop the trade. Yusuf told IRIN about his experience:

"In two years I made about 10 trips to Yemen, with 100 passengers per trip. We charged US$50 per person. Often, we were contacted by brokers who would tell us they had enough people. We never dealt with the people directly.

"Each trip takes about 24 to 30 hours depending on the condition of the sea.

"The trade picked up in 2007 after the [Union of] Islamic Courts were removed from Mogadishu. We had many people coming from Mogadishu, but we also had a lot of Ethiopians.

"We would get the migrants close to the beach where they could wade through the water [to shore].

"In the two years I was in this business, I never had to force anyone overboard and had no deaths [many migrants have drowned after they were forced overboard by boat owners]. Still I know many people, in other boats, have died.

"I met Baari [Abshir, coordinator of the Awareness Campaign] and Sheikh Dahir [a religious leader in Bosasso] last year and we talked about the danger I was putting my life in and those people's lives. They told me that I could do work that was halal [permitted] instead of haram [prohibited].

"Five months ago, I decided things were getting more and more dangerous and difficult. The Yemenis were mounting more and more sea patrols and the Puntland government was closing down some of our beaches. So I asked the Wacyigalinta [Awareness Campaign] people to help me get fishing gear.

"I now occupy myself with fishing, nothing else. It is not as profitable as my old work but it is less dangerous and I do not have to feel guilty and do not break Islamic law.

"I can raise my children with clean money."

Source: IRIN http://www.irinnews.org