Ambiya Abdi Hussein: "We have safety but nothing else"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ambiya Abdi Hussein, a mother of seven, was first displaced from her home in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia at the height of the 1992 civil war. After 15 years in a camp in Mogadishu, she and her family, like hundreds of thousands of others, have been displaced again. After fighting broke out between Ethiopian-backed government forces and insurgents in Mogadishu, Hussein, 35, and the children moved to the Buulo Jawaan camp in south Galkayo, 700km north of Mogadishu, where they have lived for the past three months.

"It took a week to make the trip from Mogadishu to Galkayo, because I did not have any money to pay for transport, so I had to beg drivers to drop us in the next town and we finally made it," said Hussein.

She felt life in the Mogadishu IDP camp was hard, but work was always available. “Even the older children worked,” she added. “But we had to leave because it was becoming more and more dangerous. Some of my neighbours were killed when shells landed on their shacks.

"So I ran with my children to find a safer place and I heard that many people had already gone to Galkayo because it was safe, and you could find jobs."

When the family arrived in Galkayo they were directed to Buulo Jawaan, which was already hosting 1,600 families. "People told us that the Jareer [Somali Bantus] live there, so we came here. We have found safety but we have nothing else. You can see where we live."

Hussein described the camp as overcrowded and lacking basic necessities: "We have no proper shelter from the rains, we have no latrines, and food is whatever we can find by doing whatever jobs I can find.”

She supports her children by doing odd jobs in the town. "I go out every morning to find work. I clean people's homes, clothes and shops," she said. "What little I make we eat.

“My oldest son used to find work and help, but he cannot find work any more. People are competing for even for the smallest job. We are lucky to get enough for one meal a day."

The children, aged between two and 16, do not go to school. Hussein said: "My dream is for all them to go to school and learn, so they don’t live the way I live."

She has hopes of returning to her home in Lower Shabelle, where she had a farm and "lived much better than this … But first we need peace," she said. "Wherever I can find peace and my children can find education that is where I will call home."


Source: IRIN