Master of Advanced Studies
in Humanitarian Logistics and Management


Somalia’s Fleeing Youth: Why do they leave? - E.S.

Factors Influencing Youth to Migrate Out of Somalia: Remedial Actions

by Ahmed Mohamed Elmi 

“The trouble with Africa is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the African character. There is nothing wrong with the African land or climate or water or air or any anything else. The African problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenges of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.” Prof. Chinua Achebe,  the author of Things Fall Apart (novel written in 1958).

Executive Summary

Migration – is of a growing concern in Europe, despite the current EU “border restrictions in the Western Balkans and a deal with Turkey which led to a significant decline in the arrivals of migrants by sea to Greece, Italy, and Malta” according to (Human Rights Watch, 2017).  “In 2015, some 885,000 migrants arrived in the EU via the Eastern Mediterranean Route – 17 times the number in 2014” as ( European Border and Coast Guard, 2017) reports. The (UN Global Report, 2014) is painting a plague picture of a world at war, and the UN Refugee Agency is warning that the world is failing the victims of global violence and prosecution –  almost 59.5 million were displaced in 2014 alone, i.e., one in 122 people on the planet is a refugee according to (UN Global Report, 2014). Additionally, the young people (16 -29) are vulnerable and over-represented in migration according to the (Eurostat, 2013) statistical claims. Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, and Somalia are over-represented in the migration flow to Europe. People migrate for a variety of reasons. However, little is known about what motivates the young Somali men and women to embark on dangerous crossings via the Central Mediterranean Route: from North Africa to Europe via the desert of Sudan and Libya, and then cross the Mediterranean Sea to Italy and Malta which are the gateways of the irregular migration to Europe. This demands a causal investigation into what makes a person to be tempted to migrate out of his or her home country.

Therefore, this dissertation focuses on the factors influencing youth to migrate out of Somalia and offers remedial actions to discourage the young people from the irregular migration. Such research is important to understand not only the push and pull factors behind youth migration, but also the underlying causes that underpin the immediate causes of the migration out of Somalia. This research meets its aims and objectives through a descriptive case study of a qualitative nature to gain an in-depth understanding of the youth migration of Somalia. The latter is based on focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with young Somali migrants in Sweden, integration officers, schoolteachers and members of the Somali Community in three municipalities on the Western Coast of Sweden:  Gothenburg, Borås, and Marks. The hypothesis was that poverty, civil wars and unemployment are the key drivers of youth migration out of Somalia, but the findings from this research underline that the causes of youth migration are often misunderstood because people tend to miss the notion of causality. Data reveals that there are different layers of problems which force people, especially the young men and women to migrate out of Somalia. The layers of problems can be summarized:

  1. The immediate causes are the effects of the underlying causes which can be divided further into push and pull factors.
    1. Push factors are; youth unemployment, loss of hope in the country, limited social services, poverty, Somalia diaspora and social media influence, the influence of human smugglers, repetitive droughts and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, and;
    2. Pull factors are potential job opportunities in Europe, attractive image of the Western countries and quality of life in Europe.
  1. Underlying causes are the real demons which drive people out of the country. The underlying causes are corruption and nepotism, proxy wars, violation of human rights, hunger for energy, infrastructural challenges and leadership failure which is arguably the cause of all causes in Somalia. However, jobs creation, construction of recreational youth centers and awareness raising about the problem of the irregular migration are specific areas to be intervened to address youth migration out of Somalia.

From relevant literature and empirical data, we have enough facts to conclude that the immediate causes, i.e. push and pull factors are very superficial. The researcher theorizes that the combination of proxy wars, corruption, and bad leadership are the root causes of all causes that led the nation of Somalia to decline and no real success is possible without good leaders who are willing and able to do things right; make Somalia where everyone wants to stay and live.  The major contribution of this research is to look at youth migration from a different angle, i.e., the existing initiatives are dealing only with the immediate causes of youth migration (push and pull factors) which do not yield long-term results. For example, unemployment, human smugglers and EU border restrictions instead of the corruption, bad leadership and the proxy wars which are the demons that crippled the nation of Somalia. This researcher argues that good leadership is a prerequisite for any social and economic development in Somalia.


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