Somalis face prejudice and exclusion

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A new report into Somali integration in Oslo has found immigrants from the east African nation often feel excluded from Norwegian society, and must battle against prejudice and stereotyping. School absenteeism and dropout rates are higher for Somalis than other immigrant groups, and employment rates remain very low.

The Open Society Foundation’s (OSF) ‘At Home in Europe’ project investigated Somali integration in Oslo, Malmö, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, London and Leicester. The report found Somalis make up Oslo’s third-largest immigrant group, and are one of the largest refugee groups coming into Norway.

“Many are working hard to be accepted as Norwegian citizens,” OSF Director Nazia Hussain told newspaper Aftenposten. “Compared to the other European cities, Norwegian Somalis are characterized by a strong commitment to participation in and belonging to the community.”

Despite these efforts, researchers found the group lacks a sense of inclusion. About 80 per cent of Somalis are under 40 years of age, and 80 per cent of second-generation Somali-Norwegian children are under 10. The youth aren’t seen as Norwegians, but no longer identify solely as Somalian. Education is vital for integration, yet Somali students have an above average drop-out rate and a higher absentee rate than both the general population and other immigrant groups. Language and cultural difficulties make it hard for parents to help children with their studies.

Low workforce participation
In the workforce, only 40 per cent of Somali men and 23 per cent of women have jobs. OSF found there are few job opportunities for unskilled workers in Norway, many immigrants lack the qualifications to apply for work, and processing of asylum claims delays job hunting. Cultural reasons are partly to blame for the low number of women in work, especially mothers of young children. Somalis feel discrimination, exclusion, poor language skills and a lack of qualifications all hinder the job hunt.

Abdirahman Awila, a 44-year-old father of eight, has never held a job for longer than three months in his 13 years in Norway. “I would feel more included in the community if I had a job,” he told Aftenposten. He has high school education, car and truck driving licenses, has worked in warehouses, factories and shops, and is now memorizing the streets of Oslo in the hopes of getting a taxi license.

OSF was concerned to find little information available when it comes to assessing immigrant health. In the housing market, only 16 per cent of Norwegian Somalis are homeowners, many struggle to access housing subsidies, standards are low, and illegal discrimination is rife when seeking private rentals. Despite the number of organizations geared towards Somali integration, many have low involvement in their neighbourhood, school and wider communities.

Negative media portrayal
The researchers found Somalis were the immigrant group most often cited in reports of unemployment, poor school performance, abuse of the drug khat, female genital mutilation and other negative topics. Somalis surveyed in the report said stereotypes have a major impact on their every day lives.

Cindy Horst from the Peace Research Institute (PRIO), which led the research for OSF in Norway, said this view isn’t representative of Somalis as a whole. “Some are employed, some are unemployed, they are highly educated or illiterate, some have been here for two years, others for 20, some are poor, others highly paid.”

Horst told Aftenposten the negative media attention can become a self-fulfilling prophecy for young Norwegian Somalis. “They become so disillusioned that they give up, no longer striving for inclusion and turning their back on society. Some think, ‘When that’s how they see us, forget it!’.”

“It must worry the authorities that a whole group of citizens feels excluded. We don’t yet know what the consequences of that will be,” she said.

The report found there are many good programs underway helping Somali integration, run by religious, social and government groups. Norwegian Somalis are becoming more politically active and better able to manage their own integration. But the OSF warns Norwegian society as a whole needs to come to terms with its growing ethnic diversity, because being ‘Norwegian’ is no longer defined by a person’s parents and birthplace. Woodgate


  1. Observer2796 says

    “Abdirahman Awila, a 44-year-old father of eight”

    Right here is the problem. Eight kids. Good lord. This actually means the man had all of them in Norway without ever worrying how he would support 10 people w/o a meaningful job. These people need to learn about birth control. Mother probably has been pregnant almost all of their stay in Norway, iow a baby factory. Living in a ghetto and her only contact is with other poors. How will they control all these kids when they grow up? No wonder they prowl the streets looking for someone to rob. Being poor and having no outlook plus living in a society so geared to consumerism is a recipe for disaster. We discussed all these factors in several other threads.

    • I agree, but the problem isn’t lack of teaching birth control. It’s about expectations. If the father expects that someone will take care of his family, since working 3 solid months in 13 years can’t possibly do this, then they can just keep churning out babies for the rest of the world to support. Surprisingly, this article is about how difficult it is for them here. I think when you compare the situation in their country of origin and the ability to successfully support 8 kids with no job, we need to examine what, exactly, we mean by “difficult”.

      • Observer2796 says

        “Somalis feel discrimination, exclusion, poor language skills and a lack of qualifications all hinder the job hunt.”

        Tis_not this is the difficulty they are talking about. Working on the latter three of those will eventually solve the first. Sadly no one is willing to make the sacrifice. It should be all given to them. The dude in the interview was 31 years old when he came here.

        Don’t want to prejudiced but he probably chewed khat all day and let life pass by. When he woke up from the haze there were 8 kids running and screaming. He’s now probably being pressured to get a job.

        Do search on this site and you’ll find we endlessly discussed the issue.

        ETA: In Somalia where he’s from the number of kids would be the same, however he would have moved on to find himself another woman in another village where the same would happen.

  2. John Palmer says

    There is a place for discrimination. (Def. recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.) If you don’t exercise sound judgement over whom you let in to your country, then soon it won’t be yours; it will be theirs. Lykke til.

    • I call it extracting the ‘yellow water’.

      • John Palmer says

        Of course there is a place for hard-working honest immigrants. Some of the nicest people I met in Oslo were immigrants. They were often tolerant of my halting attempts at the language.

  3. As usual the media here fails to grasp the real issues.

    Taking in immigrants from a country torn by war for 40 years one should plan on difficulties on all sides in the first generation. The real question is what happens to their kids, the first generation Norwegians.

    For those kids, there should be programs designed not so much around the mythical “integration” objective but rather programs designed to support and bring children though education who are the first of their family to reach the level they are at. These sort of programs have been succesful in places like America where a small group of pioneering universities and high schools have used them to increase graduation rates of african american children whose parents were lesser education:
    For example:

    These sort of programs are end-to-end: classroom, study support, counseling, social events, providing historical and out of classroom experiences etc. And it works.

    That is not being properly addressed in norway at all. The schools here dont have this skill set or even grasp the extend of the need. And neither the social services either. They spend too much time on this “integration”/brainwashing agenda, when the focus should be on getting these kids though school with succes.

    You do that and then scale it and these problems will go away over time as this group gains societal and economic power. All that we would be left with is basic blatant discrimination, which should be addressed vigorously by strong anti-discrimination laws and enforcement of those laws.

    But we are in Norway and the “cultural war” and brainwashing agenda always takes away from ability to get anything useful done.

    • So CAL Snowman says

      No the real issue here is that there are Somalians in Norway of all places. The people of Norway NEVER voted to become a multicultural state and a dumping ground for third world refugees. There is NOTHING that the somalians can provide that the Norwegian people cannot provide from themselves. Norway in no way, shape, or form benefits from Somalian “immigrants.”

      • It benefits from crime,rape,drugs,ignorance and very soon will benefit by being kicked out of your own country.

        • Observer2796 says

          Yes, yes, yes,yes …err No. There won’t be a caliphate in our lifetime:) I however get where you’re coming from; Their women get kids outnumbering Norwegian (and other European) women 3 to 1. Maybe because they have a lot more things to do than forever being pregnant.

      • Observer2796 says

        SCS. Judging by the amount of up-votes a lot of readers seem to share your sentiment. You should however be aware that although the citizens weren’t asked to vote for multiculturalism, Norway has a reputation of brokering peace and rescuing oppressed people especially in SE Asia and NE Africa.

        As such the Somali’s/Erithreans/Ethiopeans/Afghanis/Sri Lankans/Pakistanis are in Scandinavia, and before them Bosnians/Kroatians/Kosovars exiled from the 90’s (Ibrahimovich anyone?). It’s also the reason why the only peace University in the world is based in Tromso.

        Let me tell you they’ve been allover Europe, but the one over arching factor seems to be which govt. is most gullible to give the most for the least.

  4. Alexandra1973 says

    Maybe the Somalis should stay home in Somalia.

    You import the third world, you GET the third world!

    • Observer2796 says

      Honey, assuming the 1973 in your handle is your birthdate, a 40 year old woman(?) should know better than to shout something as ignorant as this. Does.not.compute. Pay peanuts get monkeys, I believe is the phrase you were looking for.

  5. Observer2796 says
  6. Observer2796 says

    Now. Now. TFD. It is the same as in Germany and in South Africa. In Germany before 2010 it was impossible to hold a German passport if one of your parents was not an ethnic German. The reason why since then you see a (a powerful may I add) multiculti Deutsche fussbal mannschaft. ETA: The Chinese in South African where officially declared “black” in 2008.

  7. Observer2796 says

    Michael, why don’t you enlighten us how Norwegian culture is now chaotic and poor. We’ve been through this radical racist rhetoric before. We’ve even had commenters suggest using eugenics techniques to eradicate uncontrolled “breeding”. I’d like to hear your theory. Beware though I’ll run you out of town tarred and feathered if it’s not well thought through.

  8. Observer2796 says

    Nathan. Interesting subject. Thorny too. A right minefield. Look, Tibet is historicaly accepted as being part of China, along with HK, Taiwan, Macao and those half submerged rocks in the Chinese sea for which it has now issued an ADIZ. China is making moves which may upset some but are natural.

    I’ll leave that for another 1on1 but re: Tibet. China created a railroad to that region to unlock it’s economic potential. Tibet is not considered it’s own country. It belongs to China. Don’t believe me? Search this site for the articles covering how Norway has been in the dog house since awarding it’s Nobel PP to a Chinese dissident and hosting the Dalai Llama. China does not give an eff. Your example about Chinese immigrants is rendered moot. Find something else.

    • Nathanwartooth says

      There are projected to be 4 billion people in Africa in 2100 and under a billion Europeans and their cousins.

      If you keep allowing them into your countries they will swamp you with pure numbers. In a Democracy 51% controls 100% of the country. It would be easy for Africans and Arabs to control all of Europe by the end of the century if immigration stays unchecked.

  9. Observer2796 says

    Hi kjh64. re your question: They were invited by the Norwegian government.

  10. John Palmer says

    Only when in Norway.

  11. Obviously Norway should be working harder to deport Somalis from Norway back to Somalia. That would solve the problems related to Somalis in Norway. So simple. So intuitive.

    • Observer2796 says

      Joe. It’s a bit more complicated in that they’ve not come directly from Somalia but rather have a history of (rejected) asylum applications from various different European countries. You’d have to send them back to last country that expelled them, which often is unwilling to take them back.

      • I appreciate your reply Observer2796; however, I disagree that they would HAVE to return them to various different European countries unwilling to take them back.

        I’m sure Norway has a passenger transport vessel capable of making the journey to Somalia along with a few Naval military ships to assist with security and whatnot. Having ridden on a Norwegian cruise vessel over much of the planet, I can tell you with confidence that Norway has the nautical competency to see the voyage to a successful completion. All passengers would have a one way ticket, of course, and after forced disembarkation the ship would be free to return to Norway.

        Somalians belong in Somalia NOT Norway.

        • Observer2796 says

          LOL. You sound like an operational excellence/logistics kind of guy haha. There are some hoops to jump through before anyone embarks on that one-way bound vessel. Human rights laws, laws that allow applicants to await their decision in country, laws involving decent human repatriation, UNHCR separation of family laws etc. HR lawyers can lay a road block at every end of the way.

          Shame you missed out on all the extensive discussions we had about this stuff. I stand by my initial suggestion to give every prospect-less asylum seeker a cash incentive to keep shit moving. Say €2000,– as a head start.

  12. And who has the real racial privilege?! It certainly isn’t the White side. LMAO!!

  13. Observer2796 says

    Tis. Terse response – not that it’s not the truth though – but you’ve got to explain certain caveats in a little more detail to some. Keep preaching brah.

  14. No Tis_not, you CAN deport a Somalian to Somalia. It just takes the political will to do it. Norway doesn’t have that right now. Hopefully, they’ll acquire it in the not too distant future.

    • Joe, in this era of socialistic acceptance that everyone is equally eligible for support the same as everyone is responsible for doing their part to support the system, I can’t help but recall Orwell’s remark that some are mor equal than others. I don’t see Norway, or indeed any democratic country in the world having a strong enough right to start deporting people in that manner. Good to have hope, though.

      • Will not right. Nationalism was an important factor in the development of Europe. Norway, as a sovereign state, has the right to determine who gets to be a Norwegian citizen, whether they get to remain a Norwegian citizen, who does not get to be or remain a Norwegian citizens, and the right to deport those who are not or no longer Norwegian citizens. If the laws need to be changed to deal with a Somalian problem in Norway, then as a sovereign state: they have the right to change them.

        With regards to non-citizens, ALL countries reserve the right of deportation of foreigners, even those who are longtime residents. In general, foreigners who have committed serious crimes, entered the country illegally, overstayed their visa, or otherwise lost their legal status to remain in the country, etc… may be administratively removed or deported [Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, 1995, p. 5; Forsythe and Lawson, Encyclopedia of Human Rights, 1996, p. 53-54].

        If they have no citizenship, or it cannot be determined, and no other nation is willing to accept them; then deport by way of cultural determinism. For Somalis this obviously means deport them to Somalia.

        • Nicely put, and I support the concept completely. Indeed, I look to the new government to use more than just expected tax paying status or guilt factor if declined when they decide- as you put it- who gets to be a norwegian. The problem comes from where to send those who don’t cut the mustard. This is where the Schengen states either return you to the country where you first entered from, even if it is another schengen state, where you can then apply for asylum or residency there, or they return to your country of origin (in this case somalia), if you so request and it is allowable by law. This refers to the countries which have established a Right To Return law, also known as UDHR 13 compliant law. Somalia doesn’t, in this case.
          Believe me, I’m with you on the intentions. Norway is very much at danger of becoming the crutch for every under-privledged national who manages to make it here, tilting the balance from the “all together, now” approach requried for socialism to work. It will take strong legislature to change things.

          To my knowledge, the only country who packed people up and sent them “where they belonged” was Cuba in the 80’s with the boatload of refugees going to Miami.

  15. That is a valid argument. Mass emigration prevents prevent positive change from occurring in the dysfunctional countries their citizens leave. They have a responsibility to stay and change what is broken… not run away to a functional country and start tearing it apart. Norway is acting in a codependent manner.