Wednesday March 27, 2019
By Rachel Kaburi
What do you do if you are a parent of teenage boys and you’ve seen youngsters you know fall victim to the growing problem of knife violence?
For some mothers from the Somali community in London the answer has been to protect their teenage boys by sending them to Somalia or Kenya to get them away from gangs.
But that drastic measure is not always straightforward or safe.
Video by Channel 4
Knife crimes have been on the rise in the U.K. In London, 28 stabbings were reported with 17 of them being fatal, between January 1st and March 10th, 2019. Reports indicate that homicide across the U.K. rose from 649 in 2017 to 739 in 2018 alone. This is an increase of 14 percent.The Observer newspaper reported a story of a Somali mother who flew all the way to Mombasa to prevent her 19-year-old son from returning to the U.K. This was after drug gangs threatened the 19-year-old to return to London. “I am very scared of what the gangs will do if he comes home,” the mother said. In another similar case, a 15-year-old was sent to Somali after his friend was stabbed in Islington, London and was threatened that he would be next.
Homicide is not the only cause for alarm, but also the rise of drug gangs. Drug gangs and criminal networks use young people to transport narcotics from the cities to the rural areas of England. As a result, Somali natives living in the U.K. are sending their teenagers away from Britain to Somali in a bid to keep them safe away from the drug business and knife crimes. Most of the Somali families have been living in Islington, London since 1990s following civil unrest in Somali. Members of the Somali community, have flown their children in hundreds back to Somali, Somaliland, and Kenya.
Those who don’t comply with the gangs face the consequences and are often killed. As per a report by the Guardian, Albanian Mafia is now the kings of cocaine in the U.K. They have seized control of the U.K. drugs trade from the ports of Europe to the streets of London. Albanian Mafia has managed to stay on top of the drug world by lowering the price of cocaine and increasing its purity.
British teenagers are being sent to Somali by their parents due to fear and concern from the parents that the British police are doing little to protect their children from these threats. Somali mothers who arrived in London following a series of civil unrest in Somali in the 1990s, now fear for their sons’ lives and are sending them away. “Sending them away has become the only way they can be safer. This issue of safety has been repeatedly raised by the community but nobody has listened. So many children have gone abroad. Two weeks ago, there was a stabbing and a child was taken back home two days later,” said Rakhia Ismail, Islington deputy mayor.
According to Sadia Ali, treasurer of Islington Somalia Forum and founder of Minority Matters, “Hundreds of youngsters have been taken to Somali, Somaliland and Kenya, some taken all the way to the rural areas. Parents feel they have no choice if they want their sons to be safe.” This is due to the fact that children from the Somali community are mostly recruited and exploited by gangs and drug traffickers.