< >

Kenya

Amina Abdi Hassan, 50

Refugees from Mogadishu, Somailia, now living in Nairobi, Kenya.

I left Mogadishu because life became impossible when Al Shabaab came into power. I couldn’t even go out to the market, I had no freedom. It was like I was a prisoner in my own city. It had been bad before, tribalism had started under the warlords; we were regularly robbed and it was difficult to run a business. When Al Shabaab came, things got even worse. Women were forced to wear the jalabaab (long garment), we weren’t allowed to go out and if we were seen talking to a man they would accuse of us of being prostitutes. They attacked and sometimes even killed women for such trivial things. There is no security there now, no government or authority to report to if anything happens. I saw people shot on the street and houses shelled. They forced their way into my neighbour’s house and killed the whole family.

I fled Mogadishu in a cattle truck and then took a bus to Nairobi. There were eight of us, myself and my mother, two sons, two daughters and two grandchildren. We travelled in groups of two because we had no documents. If we had all travelled together it would have been too dangerous.

We had some relatives from the same clan and they contributed money, which helped us to rent a place. In the beginning a lady helped me to buy some flasks and I started selling tea. Now I sell vegetables to help provide for my family. My husband has mental problems; he roams the streets of Mogadishu.

I have been here for four years. We didn’t go to Dadaab [refugee camp in Northern Kenya] because what refugees are given there isn’t enough to feed a large family; people there either have other income or relatives who send them money. It is also better for the children here because they can go to public school.

Life as a refugee is full of problems; at present my biggest problem is paying the rent. I would love to go back to Somalia but there is nothing left to go back to. It will take a very long time to improve. My hopes and expectations for the future however are not bad; I always think God will do something. I believe there will be changes, my children can maybe travel abroad and help me.