Amina Shakir (not her real name) fled the drought and famine in Somalia for a better life in Kenya. But she did so illegally, placing her faith in the hands of a criminal network headed by Mukhalis, or agents in Swahili. In the end her faith was misplaced as she was “sold” into employment upon finally reaching Kenya.
But Shakir is not the only one illegally crossing the border into Kenya. Natural disasters, armed conflict and famine devastating the Horn ofAfrica have caused an increase in human smuggling and trafficking in the region.
Shakir’s journey took her from a collection point in Somalia to a transaction point in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. She and several other girls made the over 1,000-kilometre journey in a truck under the guard of five men. “I was not alone,” Shakir said. “Other girls were in the truck as well, one man was also there. Our handlers assured us of our safety till we get to our destination … I felt I was in safe hands.”
But when she arrived in Eastleigh estate, a Nairobi suburb that has become an international business centre, she was sold into employment. She now works as a shop attendant for her “buyer”.
(Peter Kahare for The Guardian)