Borama, Somaliland - From emotionally-traumatised returned migrants, to the chief immigration commissioner to the top smugglers, one thing keeps turning up in conversation: social media.
It keeps the steady flow of would-be migrants coming, they say, enticing young Somalis to risk it all - even death. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter paint the West as a paradise that should be reached by all means, I was told repeatedly.
The polished and heavily touched-up photos Somalis abroad post on their social media accounts mask the reality, officials complained.
“Our young people all have Facebook on their phones and the pictures they see on there can only be described as paradise on earth,” Somaliland’s Immigration Commissioner, Mohamed Ali Yusuf, told me in his office in the city of Hargeisa.
The 72-year-old father-of-five, who is not a fan of new technology, had to change his ways. He learned to embrace some “new tricks” in a bid to halt the flow of young people leaving Somali shores every day, destined for Europe via the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean.