A 31-year-old Somalian man born in a Kenyan refugee camp has been elected into the Somali House of Representatives. Abdullahi Sheikh Abas defeated Somalia’s Minister for Information, Abdullah Olaad Roobe, and will represent the people of Kismayo in Somalia’s Jubaland district. The BBC reports that Abas grew up as a refugee and spent the larger part of his formative years at the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp on Kenya’s border with Somalia.
The Dadaab refugee camp is currently home to nearly 300,000 Somali refugees. The camp was built in 1992 in Garissa County, Kenya, to accommodate hundreds of thousands of Somalis fleeing the brutal civil war. The camp is run by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), providing food, healthcare, and education for children in the camp. Abas was one of the many children who benefited from the education provided at the camp.
For many young residents of Dadaab, it is the only home they have ever known, but it may not be so for much longer. The Kenyan government plans to repatriate each one of the more than 300,000 Somalian refugees at Dadaab, effectively shutting down the world’s largest refugee camp. If that happens, many would return to a Somalia still trying to contain pockets of radical Islamist groups led by al-Shabaab.
Somalia is in the middle of concluding its first parliamentary elections since 1984. Due to security challenges, the country’s elections are voted on by clan leaders and community representatives instead of a general election determined by a national vote. The 54 members of the upper house will be elected by the state assemblies, while the 275 members of the lower house will be elected by 14,025 delegates from different regions in the country.
The new parliament is expected to elect a new president on November 30th.