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Abdi Mohamed Ahmed, 42

An Oromo Ethiopian refugee from Dire Dawa, now living in Eastleigh, Nairobi, Kenya.

I had to leave my country for political reasons. I am from the Oromo community and used to support the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The OLF was a member of the transitional government between 1991 and 1992. Towards the end of 1992, political divisions opened up between the OLF and other transitional government parties. The OLF withdrew from the transitional government and the government began harassing those they thought were connected to the OLF.

I was arrested, held in a military camp and tortured from 1996 to 1997. When I got out, everything I owned had been taken and I had to start all over again. In 2002, I was arrested for a second time, for no reason, and held in a military camp for 11 months. Under the terms of my release I wasn’t allowed to leave my hometown, but I had to in order to find work. One night, I couldn’t get back home and the security agents came to check up on me. Because I wasn’t there they arrested my wife. When I got back, my cousin told me what had happened and warned me to leave the town before the security forces found me. I fled and escaped to Kenya where I have been ever since.

After they had held my wife for seven months they released her on the condition that within 20 days she must find me and turn me over to the security forces. She agreed, but instead of doing what they wanted she fled and came to find me in Kenya.

Living in another country when you never imagined you would live anywhere else is very hard, even without having to bring up five children. I cannot walk freely, I cannot go where I want in this country, there is always a security issue. There are a lot of refugees captured and deported to Ethiopia, or left suffering in detention centres. In order to survive, my wife cooks Halva and I sell it in the market.

We have UN refugee status. It proves I fled persecution in my home country and it enables me not to be deported against my will. My hope for the future is that I will be a man like any other, to be able to teach my children and make them human. Being human doesn't simply mean to stand on two legs; it means to fulfil their potential, to have their rights protected, so they can become what we all hope them to become.