MOGADISHU (KAAB TV) – In recent months, Somalia and Russia have intensified their collaboration, enabling Somalis – mainly those on service passports – to travel to Russia on government-related business visas.
However, it has come to light that many individuals utilizing these Russian visas are illegally entering Europe, leading to a burgeoning immigration crisis, notably in Finland.
The Finnish authorities, grappling with a surge in illegal border crossings, now face challenges stemming from the geopolitical ramifications of their NATO accession, which angered Moscow.
Dozens of asylum seekers from countries such as Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Syria have been arriving daily in Finland via Russia, a significant increase from the earlier autumn average of fewer than one per day.
As of September, the accumulated number of arrivals stands at 280 asylum seekers, according to the Border Guard Authority, the Reuters news agency has reported.
“Russia’s instrumentalisation of migrants is shameful,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen posted on social media.
Ursula said she fully supports the measures taken by Finland citing the need “for protecting European borders”.
On Saturday, Finland announced it was set to shutter four out of its nine border crossing points with Russia, a decision announced by Prime Minister Petteri Orpo on Thursday.
The move is aimed at curbing the influx of asylum seekers to the Nordic nation.
The roots of this crisis trace back to May 2021 when the Russian Embassy in Djibouti offered a five-year training program for the Somali Police Force, covering various aspects of law enforcement.
However, a report from HornObserver in January 2022 revealed that a significant number Somalia sent to Russia under the guise of police officers were not genuine law enforcement personnel.
According to an anonymous source from Horn Observer, “The top police commanders sell visas to the highest bidders. Those seeking to migrate through illegal means have been buying these visas to cross to Europe upon reaching Russia.”
The source emphasized the challenge of verifying the authenticity of individuals claiming to be police officers, citing mismanagement and tampering with police rankings.
A scandal unfolded in May of this year when 50 visas intended for Somali police, including officers from the criminal investigations department (CID), ended up on the black market.
Although reported by CID officers, the issue did not garner attention from top commanders.
Now, the voices of those victimized by this crime are being heard. Shukri Abdifatah, a 29-year-old woman, currently finds herself in Belarus, falling ill after a strenuous journey from Russia. Her initial aspiration was to clandestinely reach Europe, but illness has diverted her course, landing her in a hospital.
Shukri arrived from Somalia on a Russian visa, a document obtained through illicit channels involving Somali government officials.
Struggling from a bathroom, she now pleads for assistance as the hospital insists on payment for her medical bills.
This multifaceted crisis is exacerbated by Somalia’s status as the world’s most corrupt country, with rampant corruption permeating various sectors.
Adding to the complexity, a recent incident involved the goalkeeper of the Somali national team participating in the FIFA World Cup Qualifying game in Algeria, who fled to embark on a perilous journey through the Mediterranean Sea.