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Africa

#DontBuyDeath encourages Somalians to stay home

After a migrant tragedy in the Mediterranean, a Twitter user from Somalia is calling on his compatriots to stay home. The hashtag #DontBuyDeath has become a rallying cry and a warning.

As reports began circulating that a boat filled with migrants, many of them from Somalia, had disappeared in the Mediterranean, Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed took to Twitter.

With that tweet, the journalist from Mogadishu created the hashtag #DhimashoHaGadan.

In Somali, the message means "Don't buy death" - a call for Somalians to stop paying thousands of dollars on a high-risk journey towards Europe.

"I have a friend who suggested this hashtag," Ahmed told DW. "We agreed to do something on our dying youth in the Mediterranean Sea in their pursuit of a better life in Europe."

Ahmed's words resonated. Roughly one in seven Somalians has left the country. Though accurate unemployment statistics are difficult to come by in Somalia, estimates are 50 percent or higher.

Many desperate Somalians take dangerous routes toward North Africa, where human smugglers attempt to ferry them across the Mediterranean. Those voyages typically launch from Libya or Egypt and aim for Italy.

This year alone, a combined 25,000 refugees have attempted the sea voyage. An estimated one in 30 has died en route.

Ahmed as a "survivor of two terrorist attacks," does not see a point in risking one's life to get abroad. He equates the voyage to suicide and says he would never leave his home country.

'Every tweet matters'

Online, many Somalians shared Ahmed's hashtag, expressing their sadness and desire to see fewer people attempting the treacherous crossing.

On April 18, Somalia's president, prime minister and speaker of parliament put out a joint statement on the sinking of the migrant ship. On Twitter, many began aiming the "Don't buy death" hashtag at the politicians they felt had betrayed the citizens through corruption and incompetence. Some of the them even blaming the politicians for the death of the young people.

"Every tweet on this topic matters a lot to me," Ahmed said. "We wanted to wage this campaign against smugglers and would-be migrants. We wanted to raise an awareness campaign to discourage it."

Two survivors of the recent tragedy indicate two boats were involved. In the middle fo the Mediterranean, migrants were offloaded from one boat to the other, at which point the overloaded boat began sinking. Those who did not return in time to the stable vessel

were left behind in the water.

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