Monday, May 15, 2006

FIVE MISSING CHILDREN IN MOGADISHU!


'I don't know if I will see my children again' . Somali widow and mother-of-10 Nuuro Salab Farah, 40, told the BBC News website via mobile phone from the Hamarbile area of Mogadishu how the fighting that is raging in Somalia's capital has left her homeless, destitute and missing five children.

Nuura, like this Somali woman, has been displaced by the fighting Muhammed Deeq is missing and Mohammud is missing. Fadumo, my daughter, is missing. And Nesteho too. Abdi Fatah is missing. Five of my beloved children are gone. Gone. I do not know where they are or what has happened to them. I have Abdi Jalil and Ayan and Ismihan and Yasmin is still with me too. And Abdirahman is here, lying on my legs. Lamed Abdirahman is 20 years old and is my oldest if I count his years.

Q&A: Mogadishu fighting
Global battle plays out
Running from fighting

But when I think of all I have to do for him, to look after him, it is as though he is my youngest. He was hit by a stray bullet three years ago. The bullet went into his spine and since that day when he was lamed he has not been able to walk. Until that day, when he was 17, I used to look forward to the happy life he was bringing our family. He was our breadwinner, working so hard to look after us.

When the fighting started on Sunday afternoon we fled our home for safety. There was no time to take any of our things and so we just left. We ran together and I pushed Abdirahman in a wheelbarrow. There cannot be peace in Somalia as long as clan allegiance is deep rooted in the Somali culture Ahmed Xayuuke, Oslo, Norway.
That night we all slept on the ground. The next morning, Monday, we woke all together. Then two of my children left to go to the market to find us some food. They were taking a long time and so the other three that were attending school said that they could not wait and would go to their school. We didn't think that the fighting was that bad. We thought that it would soon stop and that everything would return to normal. That is why my children went to school. They told me that by hook or by crook they didn't want to miss school as they liked it so much. I accepted that they should go and so they went. From that day up to now I have not seen them. I have called all my relatives and friends but they have not seen them either.

I am so worried and distressed. It hurts me to remember them. At the moment, in the name of God, I don't have even one Somali shilling We have found a new place to live. It is a refuge area near the Hayat hospital. We are depending on our new neighbours for food and support. There are no toilets and there is no electricity or running water but we use gerry cans to collect water to drink and for our washing. Many of us are sharing a small hut-like house. We all sleep on mats and Abdirahman has the one bed that is here to sleep on.

Map of Mogadishu

We are alright and God willing we will be. We cannot go back to our home because it has been destroyed. I called a friend who is staying on despite the fighting and he told me that a mortar had destroyed my home and three or four others. Even if it was still standing I wouldn't want to go back. I have given up what I had there and do not want to go back.

Facts and figures about life in Somalia.

At-a-glance

At the moment, in the name of God, I don't have even one Somali shilling. All we have is what we are wearing. In my case, my "gares" (shawl) and my "bati" (dress). It doesn't matter though because I will have more, if God is willing, everything will be got. Except my soul. The soul is the body's most precious and vulnerable part and for it to heal will take more than I can imagine.

For now I only feel full of sorrow for my children and for my lame son. I have always worried about Abdirahman, since his accident anyway, but it is worse now because there is very little I can do to ease his pain. His skin is diseased from having to always lie down. His body is covered in sores. Now, here in our new home, I don't have the medicine to treat his wounds or the dressings to wrap them in. I am always thinking of ways to try and get doctors to cure him, to give him the best medical treatment that there is. And lately now I also am also thinking about my missing children. I do not know whether I will ever see them again. I keep believing that if God wills it, then we will be together again.


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This interview was translated by Ahmed Muhammed Fardolle for the BBC News website.

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