Salim Mwadime is a happy man now, living a fulfilling life and serving as an icon to fellow youth facing the risk of radicalization in his home area Lamu, gratitude to the 2015 launched amnesty program that saw his character transformed from a violent extremist to now a youth advisor and mentor. After realizing that being Al Shabaab bore him frustrations and regrets, Salim made up his mind, came back home and through the help of his sister surrendered to the county commissioners office in Lamu where he was booked into a rehab center for counseling and rehabilitation a program that mentored him into the person he is now.
As many who joined violent extremist groups with hopes of finding greener pastures continue defecting and surrendering to the authorities owing to frustrations and hardships they face as in the case of Salim, we must have information readily available to the public on what steps returnees ought to take upon coming back for them to acquire both physical and psychological support.
Family and friends ought to understand that it is for their good to have one of theirs surrender to the authorities for proper grooming.
The returnees, most of whom are youth and vulnerable would need access to relevant information on where and which offices to report to for guidance on accessing protection for those who’ve surrendered, counseling and rehabilitation services through the amnesty program established in 2015, failure to which some may end up frustrated and turn to other criminal engagements.
We have been in scenarios where returnees failed to report to authorities and went into hiding through the help of some family members and friends but in the end, some fell into drugs while others engaged in other criminal activities for lack of rehabilitation and mentorship. Family and friends ought to understand that it is for their good to have one of theirs surrender to the authorities for proper grooming.
For a returnee, confused on what step to take, reporting to the nearby police post, chief’s office or county offices should be the first place to visit for support in terms of rehabilitation and counseling services that will eventually make him/her responsible youth in the society.