As IOM submits photographs of alleged illegal immigration and refugee camps in Somaliland at an exhibition in the Piedmont regional council in Turin Italy
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – Gruesome Photographs of alleged camps in Somaliland dedicated to illegal immigration are doing the Italian rounds.
The pictures depicting two illegal immigration camps in the Somaliland cities of Berbera and Hargeisa are on exhibit at a fair hosted by the Piedmont regional council in Turin and titled “Rafaat – gaze from the refugee camps of Somaliland”
Inaugurated, by the Office of Public Relations in Turin, the exhibition “Rafaat – gaze from the refugee camps of Somaliland”, was organized by the Regional Council and curated by Suad Omar and David Rigallo. The work is the result of a series of missions conducted in Hargeisa and Berbera, Somaliland within the Midas program and a number of significant readings were presented, by Vesna Scepanovic and Ikram Mohamed at the free of charge exhibition on display until April 20.
According to organizers of the Somaliland refugees and illegal immigration camps exhibition the photographs were supplied by the International Organization for Immigration-IOM thence authenticity unquestionable.
“The photographs of refugee camps Illegal immigration centres in Somaliland were submitted by IOM” tweeted the organizers in response to a query by journalists Mahmoud Walaleye.
On the issue of how IOM a respected UN agency submitted fake photographs which purporting the existence of illegal immigration centres in Somaliland as well as actual promotion of the scourge that has claimed many youthful lives of this country,
IOM officials in Hargeisa approached by journalist Walaleye could only acknowledge the fact that the photographs were taken in the Bosaso port of Somalia in 2011 but refused to comment on reasons behind attributing them to Somaliland.
Though Somaliland authorities who maintain good working relations with the UN body are yet to react to the fake photography and subsequent insinuations of abetting illegal immigration, citizens are up in arms more so as pertains motive behind.
According to Saad Harbi a journalist with Dawan newspaper IOM which is clearly aware about the non existence of illegal immigration centres in Somaliland as well as the counter activities of the government “the organization hit Somalilanders below the belt”
“As long as I can remember IOM has always told the truth and the truth alone as pertains to relevant issues of Somaliland be they negative or positive thus the submission of fake photographs to an international exhibition is unfathomable” said Saad Harbi as he urged the UN body to retract the photos and issue an immediate apology.
In his turn veteran photojournalist Ahmed Sawirle was at pains to understand how the organizers in Turin where he believes professional photographs were at hand, failed to distinguish difference between recent pictures of Yemen refugees taken in Berbera recently and those of ‘on illegal immigration’ taken years ago.
“Even a child can distinguish the ages of the Yemeni refugees taken in Berbera and those of alleged immigration camps” said Ahmed Sawirle while opinionating that IOM has a hidden anti-Somaliland agenda.
According to Graphic designer Liban Haji Rabi the UN agency just like others that assume Somalilanders to be backward and ignorant people even failed to utilize simple software like Photoshop to spruce up their fake pictures.
“I wish they had the sense to approach me or other expert thus make their 2011 photographs look recent and factual” said Liban H Rabi as he urged IOM to realize that Somalilanders are not that backward or uninformed.
Decrying the never ending degrading of the Republic of Somaliland and Somalilanders by most members of the so called international community Ms Rooda Hasan a Small market Entrepreneur in Hargeisa said the IOM fake photography was part of calculated machinations to mar the image of this country in order to promote the dysfunctional Somalia.
“I believe the portrayal of Somaliland as place where illegal immigration is officially sanctioned is part of the agenda to force us into reunion with Somalia’ said Rooda as she warned that citizens will not keep silent as their country I thrown to the wolves.
Queried on the alleged existence of camps dedicated to illegal immigration the Somaliland Red crescent Society National Tracing Officer Abdillahi Saeed Mohamed replied “Am aware of numerous IDP camps in various parts of the country and a refugee transit centre in Berbera for those escaping war in Yemen but not a place where illegal immigrants are serviced”
In apparent defense of IOM which partners the SRCS in some refugee related activities Abdillahi Saeed was of the opinion that a slight mistake occurred while the UN agency was submitting the photographs to the Piedmont exhibition.
Said he, “Since as you inform that IOM acknowledged the photos being not from Somaliland it is obvious a technical error is to blame”
Without doubt something went astray somewhere for IOM undertakes very important work in Somaliland including close cooperation with the immigration department and vigorous intervention in refugees, IDPs and illegal immigration related interventions among many others.
In the meantime the ball is in the government’s half as pertains to getting the photographs retracted as well as IOM issuing a statement.