Travelling 20 kilometres on Foot Every Day to Mogadishu

Mogadishu Action Against Hunger

In the past two decades, more than a million people have been forced to flee the fierce fighting and chronic drought in Somalia. In our special Somalia series, Somalis displaced in their country share the daily challenges they face in the camps they now call home.

Having first been forced to leave her home in 2011 by the devastating food crisis, Safia and her 11 children have lived in precarious conditions ever since. They currently live in the Halgan camp.

The worst drought in the region for 60 years led to the death of herds, destroyed crops and saw jobs and household incomes dwindle. Food prices rose dramatically and the ongoing conflict prevented the delivery of humanitarian assistance, leaving families without food, medicines, shelter and other essentials.

When they lived in Bas-Chebili, Safia’s family relied on agriculture. When drought hit Somalia, resources became scarce and activities to a halt. When she was told that help was available in Mogadishu, Safia and her family headed for the capital.

“If it wasn’t for the fighting, we would have gone home.”

They were led to believe that life was better in Mogadishu – Safia now refers to it as ‘propaganda’: “yes, we can say that we have received humanitarian aid, but it is not a long term solution,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the ongoing fighting, we would have gone home.”

Safia walks nearly 20 kilometers a day to work in Mogadishu where a job as a housekeeper brings in just enough to make ends meet and support her children as best as she can by earning less than a dollar a day.

20 kilometres on foot every day At just 34 years of age, Safia Abdikheir has already been displaced four times within Mogadishu in as many years. CTA: Internal Exiles (712)

Her husband, a wheelbarrow pusher, struggles to contribute to family expenses. Overwhelmed by competition from tuk tuks and other transport that can carry both passengers and luggage, he earns less than 20,000 Somali shillings a day – the equivalent of half a dollar.

Before fleeing to Mogadishu, they had been preparing to sow wheat seeds, corn and beans on their land. If Safia returned home to Qoryooley, she believes she could improve the standard of living for her family. But, because of the ongoing military tension in towns and the fear of reprisals, she cannot go back. “We need peace to return to Somalia,” Safia said. “If the country is at peace, we can go and work.”

Action Against Hunger has been present in Somalia for over 20 years, treating malnourished children and helping displaced families earn a better living. Safia is registered at Action Against Hunger’s outpatient therapeutic centre. The centre supports more than 100 women and malnourished children, providing nutritional supplements for young children at risk of life-threatening malnutrition.

But much more needs to be done to protect the safety, dignity and basic human rights of the 1.1 million people displaced inside Somalia. Find out more…


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