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.
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.
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
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.
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.