I lived through the war

In Conversation with Ismail Einashe


Paddy Siyanga Knudsen: How was it sort of having this perspective in terms of connection to home? I mean, knowing what the situation was like at home, what was your connection to home in your upbringing?

Ismail Einashe: Well, that's an interesting question. And I think it's something that I've been trying to explore in my own way, over the years. And I, you know, when I came to the UK, I mean, I was, and I've written quite a bit about these sorts of experiences. But, you know, I was old enough to remember what happened in Somalia, and I lived through the war. So, you know, I lost siblings and family members, and, you know, we live through a conflict, and how those experiences when you're young, is, you know, pretty scary, and it does leave an imprint. So, then coming to the UK was a complete shock, because nobody prepared us. Because remember, I did speak English. And you know, we've never really been to school, because the conflict is going on. So, the situation was really different. And, and you see, the ways in which people arriving in the country really determines the experience there. And for refugees and asylum seekers, like, from my family, and people from similar backgrounds, if you're arriving in a country like the UK, you know, the UK, I always say, and I've written about this before, you know, Britain, was generous enough to give us space after point, but was quite indifferent to help people join in. So, a lot of refugee communities were forgotten in the 90s, in Britain, I think, and that was a disaster. And we saw the consequences, what happened in the 90s, in the 2000s, effectively, you know, you were taken from some of our differences in ticket to Britain and sort of forgotten. So that was one issue. Also, in terms of the connection back home, I think, you know, in my teenage years and into my 20s, I sort of, you know, was trying to make a conscious effort just to get on, and, you know, go to university and study and so on. But it's, been later in my late 20s. And now my, early 30s, that I am beginning to think about those questions and thinking about what that means. And I do have been in the diaspora, which you mentioned before money, and the Baroness was talking about as well.

Paddy Siyanga Knudsen: Yeah. interesting to hear and the Diaspora How was that the world coming in and they coming in? Did you feel as though, you know, what was the experience like with the Diaspora that was already in the UK that your family tried to connect to?

Ismail Einashe: I mean, I think the, the situation for Somalis is interesting in the UK, because they make some makeup, some of the oldest African migrants in the UK, because in the 19th century, there was someone there. And they would work as much as the men or there were freelancers effectively hired by the British. And they largely came from what's now called, you know, semi land or purchase of my land. And but they came in the 19th century, and they settled in places like Cardiff and lift balls, you know, a dock area, and also the East End of London. So, there was a very old small community. And then, of course, there's the other diaspora communities that exist from other places, but I think there definitely were, there was a welcome spirit at the beginning and arriving in, in the UK from others of my list, because I think those days in the 90s, people were just trying to get to safety of people were trying to, you know, find family because a lot of people were stranded in various countries and camps, and people were families were broken up, you know, you had, you know, mothers and children been broken up by conflict, and parents dying, and then the children become the responsibility of the extended family, and so on. So, this is what happened, it was a real era of change. But I think now I look back on it. And I'll come into I've got a little presentation, Paddy, so I'll give it in a second. But when I come talk more about the work I do, covering migration, as a journalist in Europe, and in the Middle East, and Africa, you know, nowadays, things have really changed in the sense that it's really difficult for people to get safe, legal, you know, access into Europe, and seek asylum. And the majority of people who are seeking asylum, for example, are coming from conflict regions are in the regions of conflict and not in the UK. And you know, we've had situations in the UK with law dubs and others that have been trying to champion the rights of child migrants and, you know, be really shocking how things have happened on that space. And, you know, I think there's been a hardening of attitude. But the reality on the ground is very different as a reporter who's gone to Sicily, Italy, Greece, Spain, you know, going to North Africa, East Africa, West Africa, reporting with migrants on the ground, the facts are that this few come and if they do make it, you know, that they're very few. And Europe as a continent is, you know, 500 million people in Europe and a 19 trillion economy. You know, the real crisis when it comes to refugees, and you know, and hosting that is in Lebanon, and it's in Turkey, it's in Ethiopia and Uganda, it's not in Britain, it's not in Germany, it's not, you know, in Italy, necessarily. So I think this is one of those I not contrast my experience that's in the 80s, or the 90s. People could come through family unification people could go to an embassy in Nairobi, or out and make a claim and then be flown out. Now it's impossible. So, people have been forced to go across the Sahara, and take dangerous journeys on boats, or dingiest Europe. You know, there's a reason why this is happening. It's not just come out from nowhere……

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Interview Date:   Thursday, Nov 05, 2020
Person Name:   Ismail Einashe

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