Conflict & Justice

Somalis in America

At this coffeeshop in Minneapolis, all of the customers are East African men. this man is a 50 year old truck driver and acutely aware of the suffering in Somalia. He arrived in the US in 1990, just before rival clans began fighting over the country. the latest conflict in Somalia pits native clans against rivals from Ethiopia with US backing behind the Ethiopians. Somalia is such a hot topic that this Minnesotan Congressman recently formed a forum for the topic. About 200 people turned out including a New Jersey Democratic congressman. While sympathetic to their plight, the Congressman blames Somalis in general for putting tribal allegiances ahead of national identity. A new group is trying to bring all those factions together. The group recently opened a Washington DC office. A leader of the group says war lords in Somalia have exploited clan allegiances for political gain. In reality, Somalis are much less divided. Somalis from different clans speak the same language, share the same religion, and intermarry. But as he follows the news from home, he's increasingly worried. He wants Somalis in the US to lobby the government to address claims that Somalia is a terrorist haven, and to address hunger in the country.