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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Peer Pressure Drives Somalis to Risk Europe Odyssey

Berbera is a coastal city in the north of Somalia, in the self-declared state Republic of Somaliland. April 2014) | usage worldwide Photo by: Yannick Tylle/picture-alliance/dpa/APTahriib is an Arabic word that has gained prominence and popularity in the Somali language. In current parlance, young Somalis are said to be “going on tahriib” when they embark on the hazardous journey to Europe via the Sahara and the Mediterranean.

Tahriib has gradually become part of Somali youth culture, a practice shared by youth across different social strata. Young people often use the word “we” to describe why young people undertake tahriib, as one respondent explains: “If we just sit here and wait, nothing happens. We have to go. We have to go try our luck in life. We can’t wait forever.”

Tahriib is a way out – an exit strategy. As a youth movement it puts pressure on young people to join their peers and friends on tahriib. Incidences of large groups leaving together are not uncommon.

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