Somali voices

Emergencies article written on the 24 Feb 2012

The drought may have eased off, but Somali citizens still desperately need our support.

With 325,000 children acutely malnourished, and nearly a third of the population experiencing severe food shortages, the country is a long way from security or stability. And as long as conflict continues to reign, it stands little chance of getting there.

A key conference was held in London this week to look at Somalia’s future.

Oxfam asked some Somali citizens what they hoped would come out of the conference. Here’s how they think the international community can help.

Amino. Photo: Oxfam

Amino

Married with five young children, 28-year-old Amino lives in temporary shelter in Mogadishu. Her husband had to flee the country for security reasons, leaving her to support the family with the pittance she earns selling tomatoes in the market.

“I think they should discuss and focus on how the Somalis will get out from the long-term problems which took almost twenty years to create. Somali people need peace, so the lives of the ordinary people can be improved. They need full access to jobs, health and education. Somali people are tired of fighting and chaos, so at the moment they are hungry for good government structures that pave the way for a brighter future in which every Somali should enjoy. I am urging the international community to help end the conflict, and also end the great human rights violations taking place … that are particularly touching the hearts of the Somali women.

I wish to observe my children in the … future enjoying life with peace and pleasure and also to see my children going through higher education during a period of prosperity for Somalia.”

Muhudin

Muhudin (56) is married with eight children. He sells shoes at the market to support his family, including several rural relatives who are staying with him after fleeing the drought.

“Truly speaking, there is a number of ways that the international community should contribute to improving the lives of the ordinary Somalis, but especially by encouraging and supporting the Somali people to depend on themselves by working on the production of its resources.

We need assistance for the very poor Somali people by providing food and helping to meet their basic needs. My hope for the future is to see Somalis enjoy a lasting peace and tranquility. I am also wishing for my children to live a more comfortable life. The international community should also inspire the world to put all their efforts into helping bring peace and improve the lives of the Somali people.”

Ahmed

Ahmed. Photo: Oxfam

Ahmed (58) and his family live in a camp for internally displaced people in Mogadishu. They have relied on friends and family for money since Ahmed’s business selling sweets, biscuits and soft drinks failed. He can’t afford to send his children to school.

“I think that they should talk about the immediate and the long-term problems in Somalia, with the focus on how the Somali people will get lasting peace.

The international community should improve the lives of the ordinary people through humanitarian assistance, but also cover the education costs of the young Somalis. Children want to learn and go to school, but parents can’t afford to pay the fees. Parents would be so grateful to receive assistance to send their children to school. If the young Somalis learn something while they are young, then they will be able to take part the progress of their mother country.

In the future, I am hopeful my children will have success and fortune with a high quality education, of which they will live in peace.”

Sa’ido

With her husband presently out of work, and six children to support, 36-year-old Sa’ido sells charcoal for a living. She can only afford to send two of her kids to school.

“I am hopeful they (the governments meeting in London) will focus on what can lead Somalis to live in peace and stability. I ask the International Community to contribute to improving the lives of the ordinary people; to help poor households who desperately need life-saving support, education and progress for their young children.

Everyone has their own particular hopes relating to their future, but I am hoping my children’s future will be brilliant, as they are currently living in very poor conditions. I’m hopeful to see all my children coming and going from school free of fear.”

Mohamed. Photo: Oxfam

Mohamed

Married with 10 children, Mohamed (52) earns an irregular income as a taxi-driver in Mogadishu. After having to flee their home due to armed violence, Mohamed and his family live in a small hut made of sticks and plastic.

“I heard that many governments are meeting in London, and I think they should focus on how Somalis can develop a good governmental structure that restores law and order in the country.

All Somali people, especially the low-income communities, need to get full support to cover all their daily basic needs. The international community should step up … with considerable humanitarian support as well as offering scholarships to meet the educational needs of [Somali] children. I am extremely hopeful that my children’s future will be comfortable and I wish they will live without conflict and with free high quality education.”

Find out more

Download Oxfam’s policy paper “A Shift in Focus – putting the interests of Somali people first”

Read the full media release about the Somali talks in London