First Somali Diplomatic mission to be reopened in Western Europe
Hassan Hussein “Nur Adde”, former prime minister of Somalia, has officially been nominated as Somali Ambassador to Italy. He will also act as the Somali envoy to the European Union. The Somali community organised an Iftar gathering at the Embassy to celebrate the fresh nomination on Thursday, September 3rd.
“Finally the Ambassador has arrived” states Igiaba Scego in an article she recently wrote for the prestigious weekly magazine “Internazionale”. There is not other way to express such an event. For the first time in 20 years, the Somali Embassy and Consulate will dispose of main utilities in their offices.
Since the start of the Civil in 1991, the embassy and consulate staff, in Rome, was led to struggle in its premises without being able to use no gas or electricity. Without the presence of a stable government in the homeland and due to the lack of sources of funding, no one was able to pay for the bills. The Italian Authorities had been reluctant so far to support the diplomatic services due to the absence of a recognised government in Somalia.
After the reopening of the Embassy, most of the people would give the credit of such an achievement to the Nuur Adde’s personality or to the Somali Transitional Government led by Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. However, the Somali Diaspora also played a crucial part in this.
The Somali Diaspora in Italy is estimated, today, to be around 5,000 to 10,000 people. This is a small number compared to the over 100,000 (1) people living in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, the strong presence of well-known writers, such as Igiaba Scego, of local councillors, and community leaders across the country, in such important cities as Rome, Florence, Milan, Torino, Naples, Genova, and Trieste, have made it possible for the Somali voice to be heard throughout Italy.
For years, in fact, Somalis living in Italy have been complaining about the situation of their Embassy and Consulate in Rome to the Italian authorities. The issue at any occasion gathering the Somali Community, at every debate, conference or workshop. Articles were published throughout Italy and the world, reaching even the headlines of a prestigious newspaper such as the New York Times (2) . De facto, the legal status of Somali citizens was being omitted.
Italy was the first nation (and in fact the only one) to reject the Somali Passports (3) . Instead, they provided Somali citizens with Travel documents that were difficultly accepted by public services as a form of Identification.
For the last 8 or 9 years, a new wave of Somali refugees, most of them youth, started entering the country. They crossed the Sahara and paid thousands of dollars to sail in boats of refugees to reach Italy. Crossings have not always been successful and have left many dead on the way.
Those who have managed to reach Europe are today, living in difficult conditions. They are unemployed, homeless and, in many cases, do not even speak a word of Italian. Many wish they could settle in other European countries such as in the United Kingdom or in the Nordic Countries, where some of their relatives might be, but unfortunately, their refugee status does not allow them to do so.
The reopening of the Somali Embassy in Rome is great news for all of us. Yet there are still massive challenges to be faced by the newly appointed Ambassador both for the Diaspora and the homeland in his dual capacity as a representative to Italy and the European Union.
The Ambassador has finally arrived! Welcome Ambassador!
- See Report “The Somali Muslim Community in England” published by the Department for Communities and Local Government of the UK Government. [↩]
- See Article from New York Times “Somali Refugees Find a New Kind of Hardship in Italy” published by the New York Times. [↩]
- See article “Legal situation of the Somali people in Italy” . [↩]