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Somalia, 7 January 2015: UNICEF helps Somaliland street children reunite with their families

UNICEF Somalia/2014/Sarman
© UNICEF Somalia/2014/Sarman

By Jamal Abdi Sarman

7 January 2015, HARGEISA, Somaliland – More than 30 children, who had been living on the streets, were reunited with their families at a ceremony held in Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa with support from UNICEF.

Over the past few years the number of children living in the streets in towns and cities in Somaliland has grown. The children at the ceremony all came from the Mohamed Moghe Street Children Centre in Hargeisa which is looking after 122 children mainly from the surrounding area.

Those in the Centre include runaways, refugees and children abandoned by their parents and range from four to fifteen years in age.

The Centre’s manager, Fathiya Seleban Haji, said that as well as providing accommodation and food, they also worked to rehabilitate the children.

“You can imagine they lived in the streets where at a very young age they started abusing drugs like sniffing glue and chewing qat,” said Fathiya.

She estimated that there are some 2500 street children in Somaliland - in Hargeisa and towns such as Burao, Boroma and Erigavo.

Some of the parents of the 30 children were traced through telephone numbers provided by the children when they were taken from the streets. Others showed the Centre workers where they had lived. UNICEF supports the Centre in its work on tracing and reunification of children with their guardians.

Sahra Dahir mother of eight year Huda Adan was visibly relieved to be reunited with her daughter.

“I can’t really described how happy and grateful I am to see her again,” she said. “She went missing more than a year ago. I am not at home during the day as I am in town where I sell onions and tomatoes. I’m told she was picked from near the river where she was with other children sniffing glue and living in horrific conditions.”

Sahra added that her daughter has been transformed by her stay at the Centre and she is looking forward to enrolling her in primary school.

“I told her I will enroll her in school and she gladly accepted. Now I can live my life happily after worrying about for so long,” she said.

The Director of Social Affairs at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Abdi Abdillahi, who attended the ceremony, pledged his government’s support to help work with street children to reunite them with their families.



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