Somalis in Britain support Miraa ban expected later in 2014

Members of the Somali community in Britain say its continued use causes family break-down, mental health problems and unemployment. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]


LONDON: As Britain gets ready to slap a ban on miraa or khat this year, members of the Somali community who favour the prohibition have turned to Conservative MPs to enforce the government’s decision, the London television network Channel 4 has reported.

The Home Office has confirmed that it will go ahead with the ban of miraa classified as a Class C drug similar to cannabis.

However, the channel’s reporter Jamal Osman said there is anger in Kenya where thousands of farmers fear for their livelihoods which depend on exports of miraa.

Miraa is widely used by the East African diaspora, particularly the Somali and Kenyan communities in London. Anti-khat activists are convinced the government will enforce the ban.

“By making such decisions, Theresa May defied government scientists and some of her fellow MPs,” said Osman, adding that the Home Secretary has become “an unlikely hero of the Somali community” and particularly among those who are championing a ban.


Khat is used by more than 90,000 people in the UK, mainly Somalis. Community members, however, say its continued use causes family break-down, mental health problems and unemployment.

However, as reported by Channel 4, a ban in the UK will affect the $100 million annual trade from miraa which comes from Meru and is one of Kenya’s leading exports.

Osman spoke to Kenyan farmers who painted an abysmal picture of their future if Britain goes ahead with the ban.

He said the lifestyles of many miraa farmers would be severely hit if they lose income from miraa sales.

The ban has a potential to damage UK-Kenya relations. An important partnership in combating terrorism could be significantly affected, according to influential Home Affairs Committee which urged the Home Secretary to abandon plans to control khat under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, said in a wide-ranging report: “It is extremely worrying that such an important decision has not been taken on the basis of evidence or consultation,” she said.