In London, Somali children throw themselves in front of trains to obliterate the pain of their lives

In London Somali children, who are sent alone by their parents to live in the Big Smoke, throw themselves in front of trains and attempts other forms of suicide, to deal with the pain of life.

Somali parents living in Somalia were concerned about the future of their children, given the experience of permanent conflict between groups within Somalia. It was reported that children were not able to access education and were likely to be subject to kidnapping, rape and murder, and the fear of being subject to kidnap, rape and murder. For this reason many Somali parents were willing to pay agents money to take their children to a variety of western European countries, often unaccompanied by a family member, in the hope that people in that country would help the young person access educational opportunities in that country.

Deception, pressure and force were used by family members and smugglers to make Somali children adopt false identities, use fraudulent documents and travel abroad.

The process through which Somali children are taken abroad with agents who facilitate their transfer is known to the police and the law courts as smuggling, trafficking and is considered a criminal offence.

Some Somali children were taken into the homes of relatives and clan members and used to fraudulently claim social security benefits by the family members.

Sometimes Somali children staying with distant relatives and clan members were sent back to Somalia if they were felt to have misbehaved or had adopted western ways.

In other cases the children were sent back to Somalia by European and North American officials, who were said to have shown a willingness to use illegal deportation methods, including employing the services of local agents involved in illegal migration practices.

The experience for Somali children

Somali children are neglected, exploited and abused during this process by the parents who sent them, the agent who facilitates their transfer across and the family that hosts them.

Somali children who are forced to take on a false identity during transit and once in the country to which they have been sent experience psychological problems as a result.

In 2003, Lucy Hannan in a report entitled A Gap In their Hearts, explained that the stress of loneliness, exploitation for benefit, lack of accommodation, as well as identity problems can cause them to commit suicide.

Dahabo Isa, a Somali community worker reported:

I have heard of suicide cases, where these young Somali children attempt to kill themselves, cut themselves, or throw themselves in front of trains…
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