The Global Somali Diaspora (GSD) Summit was held in collaboration with Yunus Emre Institute on August 14, 2021. Republic of Turkey's (TR) Ambassador in Mogadishu Mehmet Yılmaz, Federal Republic of Somalia’s (FRS) Ambassador in Ankara Jama A. Mohamad, Mogadishu Yunus Emre Institute Deputy Director Sinan Doruk and London Yunus Emre Institute Director Mehmet Karakuş participated in the summit together with the representatives of the Diaspora. Famous Somalian Abdi Baadil also gave a small concert during the summit.
The event was moderated by GSD's Deputy Chairman of the Board Ahmed Tohow and was commenced with the Quran chant by Sheikh Saacid.
In his opening speech, GSD's Chairman of the Board Jawaahir Daahir mentioned that the program was held upon the request of the Somalia Diaspora in Turkey. Daahir stated that the difficulties faced by Somalians in Turkey, their experiences in social integration, role of the Somalian civil society in Turkey and the commercial relationships between the two countries were the topics that need to be addressed.
Tohow said that they could come together on digital platforms despite the COVID-19 restrictions and hoped that they could hold in-person events as soon as possible.
EDUCATIONAL AND HEALTH SUPPORT TO SOMALIA
TR Ambassador in Mogadishu Mehmet Yılmaz mentioned the fellowship between Turkey and Somalia. Ambassador Yılmaz talked about Turkey's support provided for the Somalian students and stated that education was one of the main pillars of the cooperation between Somalia and Turkey since 2011. He mentioned that Turkey organized education programs with the support of Turkish Maarif Foundation, Ministry of National Defense and Yunus Emre Institute. He added that Turkish Maarif Foundation has been carrying out studies to improve education in Turkey and provided education for Somalian male students in three schools. Yılmaz also mentioned that female students' education was carried out in a different school and a total of 1,500 students were receiving education. He expressed that some of the graduates started receiving education in Turkey and benefited from the scholarship opportunities in Turkey. He added that Turkish Religious Foundation had 300 students in Mogadishu and that the Foundation provided scholarships for 140 students and some of those students were enrolled at the universities in Turkey. Yılmaz stated that 56 students studied in Turkey on a scholarship in the academic year of 2021. The Ambassador stated that Turkey provided state scholarships to Somalians and a total of 1,246 scholarships were granted since the 90s. Yılmaz mentioned that Somalians had a strong demand for the education opportunities in Turkey and that some Somalian students continued their education in Turkey with their own means and without any scholarship.
The Ambassador said that another opportunity provided for Somalia was the Somalia Mogadishu Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Research Hospital established by the TR Ministry of Health. Yılmaz stated that they have organized a ceremony for the medical students who completed their first residency at the medical faculty of the hospital and that some doctors were working at the same research hospital and others were working at other hospitals in Mogadishu. Yılmaz added that Yunus Emre Institute made great efforts for Turkish language teaching activities in Somalia.
FRS Ambassador in Ankara Jama A. Mohamed mentioned that they were focused on how to further develop their relationship with Turkey, which have been developing for the past 10 years based on fellowship.
Jama A. Mohamed stated that Somalians were investing in their education in Turkey and mentioned that some 5,000-6,000 students were receiving education in Turkey and only 15 to 20 percent of those were on a scholarship. Ambassador Mohammed added that a great majority of students financed their own education and that it was important to learn the expectations of the societies from each other in order to further improve the relationships between the two societies in the future. "If you think positive, you will positively perceive the developments, but if you think negative, then you will see the developments negatively." said Mohamed and emphasized that we should evaluate the issue of improving the relationships between the two countries from this perspective. Mohamed stated that Somalia was organizing events in collaboration with Turkey and will organize some new activities to build a common future.
Mogadishu Yunus Emre Institute Deputy Director Sinan Doruk mentioned that he was happy to see that Somalian society had a wonderful place in Turkish society. Doruk highlighted that there were many similarities between the two societies and that the histories of the two countries were connected through commercial relationships.
Dr. Idil A. Osman, working at the Media and Communication Department at Leicester University, said that Somalians have been receiving education in Turkey since 1991. Osman emphasized that such education of Somalians was then transformed into advantages for their country.
"SOMALIANS ARE QUITE GIFTED IN INTEGRATING WITH THE TURKISH SOCIETY"
During the section of the summit in which the difficulties faced by Somalians while receiving their education in Turkey were discussed, Ambassador Yılmaz voiced his assessments regarding Somalian students.
"When I asked the Rectors and other universities, they told me that Somalian students were quite happy." said Yılmaz and emphasized that Somalians were quite gifted in integrating with the society and learning a new language.
Dr. Idil Osman stated that Somalian students were facing economic difficulties, could encounter some difficulties when integrating with new societies, and their longing for their faraway families was challenging for them. Osman stated that some students came to Turkey when they were 16-17 and that it was especially challenging for this age group to be far away from their families in a foreign environment. Osman added that many Somalian students received scholarships both in Somalia and Turkey and these students became useful for their country when they complete their education in Turkey and go back.
"CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS HAVE AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN EDUCATION"
In his speech during the final session of the summit, the Coordinator of Somali Society in Turkey Sheikh Mohamed Idris Ahmed talked about the role of civil society organizations in education. He started his speech with the definition of civil society and mentioned that civil society organizations that worked for the benefit of the public could serve the benefit of their own societies and nations. Ahmed emphasized that civil society organizations operated to improve issues such as freedom of speech, human rights and justice, that civil society was quite important within the history of Islam, and that one of the most important examples of the greatness of the role of civil society in education was the Al-Azhar University in Egypt, the second largest university in the world that still disseminated knowledge to the world. Ahmed emphasized that it was important to finance the civil society organizations to enable them to play such a role.
Yunus Emre Institute (YEI) organized a 6 month course program for officers serving in the Mauritanian army to...