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Somalia: In God’s Shadow

People in Mogadishu shelter in the grounds of an abandoned church

People trying to escape the upsurge in fighting in Mogadishu have taken shelter in the grounds of an old Roman Catholic church in Hamar-Weyne district of the city. Oxfam partners SAACID spoke to people living in the shadow of the church:

In the camp there are war victims everywhere. Take, for example, five year old Hanan Kuweyd. She was seriously injured by what her family says was an AMISOM (the AU peacekeeping mission) mortar shell. Her mother, Faadumo Haji Ahmed, told how it happened:

“It was about 3pm and I was fetching drinking water from a nearby well. Suddenly I heard shouting from my house. I ran and found that two of my children were hit by a mortar round. One of my daughters, called Sa’diya, was killed instantly. She was only two years old. Another two of my children – a boy and a girl – were wounded. Hanan was seriously wounded and she was in Medina Hospital for three months. She is now disabled in her left arm.”

Habibo outside her new shelter

Habibo Ali Nor is a mother of three boys and two girls. She says she fled Shibis district in July after persistent heavy fighting:

“Initially we fled to Bondhere district for safety, but we did not stay long because further heavy fighting between Al Shabaab, AMISOM and the TFG (Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government) forced out civilians.

Habibo, her husband and children were lucky to escape with their lives as the fighting was so intense. But they fled with nothing and since then have lived off the charity of people in the neighbourhood: “We prefer to live in this church site, because we can’t afford a rented house. But the main problems we face are a lack of clean water, good shelter and health facilities. We need assistance – most of us are women and children,” she says.

Preparing lunch in the camp

Aamino Mohamed is the Deputy Chairlady for Kaamka Bisharo Camp, as the site of the church is now known: “There are now 111 families here who have been displaced from different districts within Mogadishu. This number is definitely on the rise.” She said that the biggest problem they faced was the complete lack of latrines. She said that currently people are going to the toilet in abandoned buildings.

The Vice District Commissioner of Hamar-Weyne, a man known as “Afweyne”, appealed to the international community to help with resources to assist the destitute families:

“We have allowed these displaced people to reside in this building site after we considered their dire need. We now have 35 such camps in our district, and the numbers are growing on a weekly basis. It is a real strain for us, as we just don’t have the resources to help these people even at the most basic level. But we at least agree (for them to have) sanctuary in abandoned building sites, so that they can have some safety from the current high level of fighting on the city.” 

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Written by SAACID

SAACID is a Somali non-profit women's organisation which assists people caught up in the conflict in Mogadishu. You can find out more about their work at

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