Ban The khat Import to Somalia

Ban The khat Import to Somalia

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July 18th, 2020
President Mohamed Abdullahi
Mohamed(Farmaajo) &
Acting Prime Minister of Somalia Mahdi Mohamed Gulaid & Health Minister Dr Fawziya Abikar Nur 
Jamhuria Road, Mogadishu – Somalia
P.O. Box 66

Dear Leaders of Somalia,

      We as the Somali community are petitioning in support of anti-khat initiatives and campaigns.  We are demanding from the current government of Somalia to ban the import of khat to Somalia and make its use illegal for the following reasons: Medical, Economical, Family health, children’s welfare,  and for the direct benefit of the affected individuals.

   As you know, the Coronavirus lockdown had naturally created the ideal conditions to wean the highly addictive substance(khat) off those affected with its consumption. For 120 days due to the  Coronavirus pandemic, majority of people have not consumed it; thus, biologically,  their  bodies have passed the withdrawal phase from khat which gives the current government an opportunity to capitalize on that circumstance and  to ban khat for good.

    Khat cannot survive land transportaion, but direct flights are the biggest barrier and our govermnet needs to take accountability. Allowing business as usual not only will it continue to endanger our public health, but it will also complicate and hinder measures to stop the spread Coronavirus infection to an already vulnerable population.  khat consumption creates context of social gatherings in small spaces with poor ventilations and it also renders the health of the consumer poor by lowering his/her immune system.

         According to the 2019 data from Anti-khat campaign initiatives spear headed by Abukar Awale, on average 3,330 large sacs full of fresh khat arrive daily from Kenya and are distributed to 11 major cities in Somalia by direct flights excluding Somaliland region( supplied mainly by Ethiopia). The net benefit to the Kenyan (drug) dealers is $450 US dollars. Annually, the direct economic cost to the people translates into $546, 952,500 US dollars not to mention the poor health outcomes and the decreased productivity to the country at many levels: individual, family, and communal level. This money could have circulated within the country, increased quality of life for the Somali citizens, and provided economic stimulus.

The 120 days of the Pandemic, thus far, had cost saving of $179,820,000 US dollars. People are resorting to investing in their local sale of fruits and vegetables.  The benefit is already being experienced by the locals. 

         Khat import came to a halt during the current Coronavirus pandemic which had been a blessing in disguise for the Somalis and to the chagrin of those who exploited khat addictions. Given the imminent re-opening of the international flights, Kenya will pressure Somali government to resume the khat import. If our Somali Government is telling the truth to its slogan “Nabad iyo Nolol” which means “Peace and improved quality of life” for its citizens, then we demand concrete actions. Having khat drug imported to Somalia is a huge barrier to the “Nabad and Nolol” for those inflicted with addiction. It contributes to the family breakdown in our society, and it increases morbidity & mortality resulting from khat consumption.

       We also want the government to put programs in place to address addiction and mental health. We need school curriculums to provide educations related to mental, addiction, and illicit substance abuse. We need government funded addiction and rehabilitation centers to help those affected.  We need skills and trade schools for our young adults.

      We demand our government to use the expertise and the available research to create sustainable change to support the khat ban. We also want the government to put in place mechanisms of public health measures to help with the prevention, the treatment of addiction, and to address the underlying causes of addiction.  

Thank you very much on behalf of Somali and the Concerned World Citizens who signed this petition