SOMALIA: Zeinab Ali - "Every day someone you knew had died”

Thursday, December 20, 2007

 In late November, Zeinab Ali, 22, fled fighting in Somalia's capital Mogadishu and is now living in a crowded camp for the displaced in the town of Bosasso, the commercial capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia. Bosasso, which is 1,500km northeast of Mogadishu, has become the port of preference for would-be migrants undertaking the arduous journey to Yemen and displaced people from southern Somalia.

Ali fled Mogadishu with her husband and their two children, aged three and three months. This is the second time violence has forced Ali to flee the city:

"I was here [Bosasso] with my family in 2004. My husband and I decided to leave Bosasso in April thinking that things would settle down after the fighting with the courts ended [fighting between insurgents and Ethiopian and Somali government forces].

"He found a job as a mechanic in Mogadishu and I sold small things near my house, we were not bad off. But we were wrong; the fighting only stopped for a short time and then it got worse.

"We used to live in Madina [southwest Mogadishu]. At first Madina did not suffer as much as other parts of the city but the violence slowly spread to us and many businesses closed in fear of looting. My husband lost his job and couldn't go out to look for another one for fear of not returning. It was just too dangerous. Every day you hear someone you knew had died.

"Here in Bosasso we have peace but not much else; we have not been registered as internally displaced people yet, so we don’t even get the little [relief aid] that other people get. We depend on the kindness of people who have been here before. We share a bush [shack] with another family. My husband cannot find work, so I have to go and find work as a cleaning woman in people's homes. Some days you find work and some days you don’t. That is all we have now.

"I would like to return to Mogadishu but things are getting worse and worse every day.

"I want to be in any place where my children will know peace and have a future. I don’t want them to grow up like me, not knowing peace and security. I pray for that every day."

Source: IRIN