'Where Life Takes Us’: Photography Exhibition in Hargeisa Celebrates Migration in the Horn of Africa

Hargeisa, 11 December 2022 — A one-week photo exhibition titled ‘Where life take us’ opened in Hargeisa, Somaliland, to mark International Migrants Day which takes place on 18 December. The exhibition features stories of migrants and returnees from across the Horn of Africa region.

The photography exhibition aims to inform the public about the challenges that push people to move in the Horn of Africa whilst highlighting the unique role that migrants play in social and economic development. The stories, collected across three years with the support of IOM, will also offer a window into the migration dynamics in the region.

‘Where life take us’ is being hosted by local art studio and gallery Fankeenna and done in collaboration with Somaliland’s National Displacement and Refugee Agency.

“This event is a unique opportunity to bring together migrants, returnees, youth, activists, artist and local authorities into one space to discuss the challenges and possible solutions to make migration safer, orderly and more dignified,” said Wria Rashid, IOM’s Head of Office in Hargeisa. 

Somaliland lies at  the  centre  of  old  migratory  routes  dating  back  centuries. Today, it continues to be a corridor for migrants, particularly youth wanting to reach the Gulf countries and Europe, as well as for migrants returning from Libya, Europe and elsewhere.  

The narration of migrants and returnees’ journeys through the exhibition will offer a  glimpse into these  multi-faceted realities, while providing a space for youth in the city to gather and interact. 

In 2022, more than 50,000 migrants left the region trying to reach countries like Saudi Arabia, due to unemployment and lack of opportunities. Limited life opportunities and an ongoing drought have forced people to risk their lives by trusting smugglers in perilous journeys. 

“Migrants in the region are often unaware of the dangers of migrating irregularly. This photo exhibition is an opportunity for IOM and partners to shed light on migration stories as we help the youth to take better informed decision,” said Rashid. 

Since 2021, IOM has worked with local authorities to provide more than 7,300 vulnerable migrants with health care services, information, and psychosocial support through Migrant Response Centres (MRCs)  located alongside key migration corridors in the Horn of Africa. 

If  leaving  home  is  hard,  then  returning  to  one’s  community  of  origin  is  equally as difficult  as  it can mean confronting stigma and discrimination. IOM provides returnees with counselling sessions, cash grants, skill training and information to help them reintegrate into their communities whilst achieving economic self-sufficiency and psychosocial well-being.  

As part of the exhibition, IOM will also host a one-day storytelling workshop with returnees and students from Hargeisa University to foster cohesion through participatory exercises that will allow them to express their thoughts and feelings in a safe manner.  

The exhibition contributes to IOM’s efforts to improve the lives and safety of migrants in the region. For over a decade, IOM has worked closely with Somaliland’s local authorities to strengthen their capacity to address the risks associated with irregular migration.  

The work exhibited was produced by photographers Yonas Tadesse, Claudia Rosel, Muse MohammedMustafa Saeed, Tobin Jones and Ismail Salad Osman with the support of IOM.  

The photo exhibition is possible thanks to generous funding from the US Government, Norway and France, as part of the Regional Migrant Response Plan (MRP) for the Horn of Africa and Yemen, as well as from the European Union through its EU-IOM Joint Initiative Programme. 

For more information contact Claudia Rosel, Media and Communication Officer, 



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