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Somalia, 14 November 2016: Continued fighting forces a mother to walk 24 km per day with her children to find work

© UNICEF Somalia/2016/Mahat
Displaced Somali mother Lul and her children on the road walking the 12 kilometres between the IDP camp where she lives and Galkayo where she hopes to find work.

GALKAYO, Puntland, 14 November 2016 – An upsurge in fighting in central Somalia has forced more than 90,000 people to flee their homes and take refuge in nearby towns and villages. The difficulty of finding a new, safe place to stay and a way to make a living has forced great hardship on everyone – but particularly the children.

Lul Ali Hassan has been desperately trying to find somewhere safe for her, seven month old Dalmar and three year old Zamzam for over a month.

They were staying in Garsoor village in South Galkayo when the fighting flared in early October. Lul moved to a makeshift shelter in a camp for the internally displaced in Garsoor a few months earlier. She had been a refugee in Yemen but returned to Somalia after her husband died and managed to make a living in the camp selling and painting with henna.

“God blessed my business and my family’s life was among the best in my settlement,” she said.

However when the conflict broke out in October, Lul spent most of her savings on transport to take the family to Bandiiradley, 70 km south-west of Galkayo town. Unable to afford to rent a house, they were among 42 internally displaced families housed at the local Community Center.

“We spent over 3 weeks in the overcrowded community center - food and water were expensive and there was no work for pay. I realized if we stayed all my money would be finished and all I would be able to do is watch my children hungry and dying,” she said.

She decided to return to Garsoor and travelled with many others in minibuses towards Galkayo. But close to the town – fighting broke out. The drivers refused to continue so Lul and others decided to walk to another village about 12 kilometres away.

“I woke up Zamzam, washed her face and forced her to walk for 20 minutes before joining the other displaced IDPs in Xaarxaar,” said Lul who spent the night in the open with her children. The next day Lul and her children walked to Galkayo, dismantled her make shift shelter in the camp there and carried it on her head to put up in the village of Xaarxaar.

This was the best solution given the circumstances she says.

“I can walk with my children to Galkayo, find some odd jobs during the day, feed my children and walk back with them to Xaarxaar to spend the night,” she says.

So every day Lul is a familiar sight as she puts Dalmar on her back, grasps Zamzam’s hand and walks 12 kilometres to Galkayo, works and then walks the same distance back.

 

 
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