Somali Refugees Say South Africa is Too Dangerous

“It’s better to go home and die in dignity."

Somali nationals demonstrate outside the Parliament in Cape Town against recent xenophobic attacks

You know a country is in bad shape when the refugees from a bloody civil war are running away from it.

Ali Omar Mohamed fled Somalia’s civil war two years ago to seek a better life in South Africa. Now after being robbed at gunpoint and seeing scores of his countrymen murdered in xenophobic violence, he’s ready to leave.

Mohammed, a 21-year-old shopkeeper, is part of a growing tide of immigrants who say they prefer returning to a war zone rather than face the hatred and jealousy they are subject to in South Africa where they’re called “the enemy.”

“It’s better to die in your country where your mother and father can see you and not worry so much,” said Mohamed, who sleeps in a small room attached to the shop in the northern Johannesburg shantytown of Diepsloot. “As soon as possible, I’ll go back.”

In South Africa, the situation for Somalis is deteriorating.

“Somalis are subjected to a high rate of fatalities and loss of livelihoods,” Munyaneza said in an interview. “This is unprecedented. They’re being attacked with impunity. The Somalis are the ones who are the hardest hit amongst the foreigners.”

For many Somalis, returning home is now a safer choice than remaining in South Africa.

“They are tired of the on-going xenophobic attacks, and the constant hurting and maiming of Somalis,” Sheikh said. “It’s better to go home and die in dignity than to die far away from home.”

Or you know, there's always Minnesota. Or Maine. The reality though is that Somalis have made South Africa worse. And that's a unique achievement.

South Africa is playing host to an ethnic civil war that claims the lives of Somalian nationals daily. In the Eastern Cape, Somalis of rival ethnic groups are waging what some call a “silent war”, “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing”.

Ethnic tension pits those of Ethiopian origin, better known as Ogadenes or Somalian Ethiopians, against those who consider themselves authentic Somalians.

Most Ogadenes in South Africa are staunch Muslims and see those who fled as defying Islamic rule.

Port Elizabeth and East London have over 400 graves of Somalians murdered in recent years. Somalians say they were killed by Somalis or hired hitmen.

There's only one answer. We need to import more Somalis.