The best pizza in Mogadishu

AFP Correspondent blog
Mogadishu, Somalia

Somalis play football as the sun sets in Mogadishu (AFP Photo/Carl de Souza)
Somalis play football as the sun sets in Mogadishu (AFP Photo/Carl de Souza)

The first time I went to Mogadishu there were soldiers on the roof of the airport terminal and a crashed cargo plane on the apron with a rocket-sized hole in its fuselage. I wore body armour pretty much all the time, was woken by explosions at night and ducked rifle fire by day.

That was five years ago. I was back again recently and went out for a pizza, at night. Continue reading The best pizza in Mogadishu

Life and opportunity in the world’s biggest refugee camp

Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Dadaab, Kenya

A Somali refugee shops for fresh produce at a market within the Hagadera camp in the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp (AFP)
A Somali refugee shops for fresh produce at a market within the Hagadera camp in the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp (AFP)

Soon after dawn Bashir Bilal sat outside on his usual plastic jerry can surrounded by young girls and boys chanting Koranic verses.

Each child clutched a worn plank of wood instead of an exercise book, writing on it in Arabic script with ink made from charcoal and water.

In Somalia the Islamic madrassa is often the only education on offer, but here in the Dadaab refugee camps it is just the start. Later in the day the children are able to attend, for free, primary and even secondary school while scholarships are available for college education.

Uprooted and dispossessed, life as a refugee is tough. But for the Somalis who have for years, or even decades, called Dadaab home there are opportunities too. Continue reading Life and opportunity in the world’s biggest refugee camp

Kenya and its Somalis | Scapegoats

The Economist
Dadaab, Kenya

Before the refugees came, Dadaab was a forgettable little way-station in north-eastern Kenya on a dusty road to Somalia. More than two decades later the original town is dwarfed by five sprawling camps spread across flat, dry land that together house at least 350,000 people. It is Kenya’s fourth-largest population centre and the world’s biggest refugee settlement. As Kenya’s government struggles to deal with Islamist terrorism, it is blaming Somali refugees and wants Dadaab gone. Continue reading Kenya and its Somalis | Scapegoats

Lure of high-risk riches too strong for Somalia refugees

Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Dadaab, Kenya

A refugee sits near a crumbling mud-wall in the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp (AFP Photo/Tony Karumba)
A refugee sits near a crumbling mud-wall in the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp (AFP Photo/Tony Karumba)

On a good day, Salat Ahmed and his pregnant wife Sadiyo make two dollars (1.80 euro) selling kilogramme bundles of khat, a leafy green herb that is mildly narcotic when chewed.

They run their business from a corrugated tin shack beside an extravagantly cratered dirt road in Ifo, one of five camps that together form the world’s largest refugee settlement, Dadaab in northeast Kenya.

Most of their money goes on rent, food and medicine for them and their two young children, four-year old Farhiyo and her little brother Guled, aged two.

But Ahmed’s dream is big, common and dangerous. Continue reading Lure of high-risk riches too strong for Somalia refugees

Blaming the victims of rape in Somalia

Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Mogadishu, Somalia

Fatima (not her real name), 14, who was arrested after reporting a rape, pictured at the Elman Centre in Mogadishu (AFP)
Fatima (not her real name), 14, who was arrested after reporting a rape, pictured at the Elman Centre in Mogadishu (AFP)

After 14-year-old Fatima was raped by a tuk-tuk driver, she was arrested, detained for a month and raped repeatedly by a police officer, according to the child and her aunt.

Sexual violence is widespread in Somalia and rarely prosecuted. If anyone is punished at all it is often the victim, not the perpetrator.

“We are fighting to change that attitude of blaming the victims,” said Fartuun Adan, who runs the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre in the Somali capital Mogadishu, where survivors of sexual violence can find refuge, medical care and support.

“There must be consequences for men who rape,” she said, but instead those who report rape are frequently arrested themselves. Continue reading Blaming the victims of rape in Somalia