Columbus’ Somali residents celebrate World Court’s recent ruling in favor of home country2 min read
Columbus’ Somali residents are celebrating the World Court’s decision this month to rule in favor of their home country in its maritime dispute with Kenya.
On Oct. 12, the International Court of Justice of the United Nations sided mostly with Somalia in its seven-year-long sea boundary case with Kenya, which affects a territory in the Indian Ocean believed to be rich in oil and gas.
The court rejected Kenya’s claim over the territory and drew a new boundary close to the one sought by Somalia. Somali Information Minister Osman Abokor Dubbe called the decision a victory “through sacrifice and struggle” in a Facebook post while Kenya expressed that it would not recognize the court’s judgment.
Delighted by the court ruling, Somali residents in Columbus have planned a Saturday event to celebrate the news. Taking place at 8 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Columbus Airport hotel, the celebration will feature a number of local Somali speakers and performers. Advocates are expecting more than 100 attendees at the event.
“The case took years and years to finalize, and we have been following the news this whole time,” said Kawther Musa, a Northeast Area commissioner and an advocate for Columbus’ Somali community. “People are celebrating here in the U.S. and also back home. Everybody is excited, and even the kids are excited.”
Right now, there are about 2 million people from Somalia living outside their country, the United Nations estimates. Most of them live in neighboring nations such as Kenya.
The ongoing civil war that started in 1991 further increased the size of the Somali diaspora as many sought refuge in countries including the United States.
In Columbus, there are about 45,000 Somalis who came here through either refugee resettlement or secondary migration, advocates estimate.
“The community here knows that Somalia has been in a civil war for so long and the country became very vulnerable,” said Hassan Omar, president of the Columbus-based Somali Community Association of Ohio. “We want to hold the celebration as a way to show our support to the Somali government and Somali people all around the world.”
On the day of the court ruling, Omar said he anxiously awaited the decision at his office for six hours while the court’s deliberations were being livestreamed. He said he was glad that Somalia mostly won the case, but he hopes the international community could do more for the Somali diaspora.
Meanwhile, some residents who have family members or own businesses in Kenya are worried that Kenyan troops might retaliate against them.
“A lot of Somali diasporas (have) businesses in Kenya,” Musa said. “And they are afraid that Kenya people start destroying their properties because of this decision.”