Nadifo Gedi: "I have never begged but I am close to it now”

Nadifo Gedi, a 30-year-old mother of three, is living in a makeshift camp for internally displaced people on the northern outskirts of Mogadishu. She fled the fighting in the Somali capital in August and now lives in the village of Burbishaaro, 20km north of Mogadishu, with about 400 other displaced families.

Home for Gedi, her husband and her children, aged one, two and three, is a hut made of twigs, torn clothes and plastic, in the baking sun close to the Indian Ocean.

Until recently, Gedi had been living with her family in Wahara Ade, near the livestock market in north Mogadishu. Wahara Ade is part of Huriwa district, considered to be one of the most dangerous in the Somali capital, with frequent clashes between insurgents and Ethiopian-backed government troops.

"We were better off than other parts of Huriwa but then the violence spread to us too. Last month [August], things got so bad that there were constant killings. Every morning you hear so-and-so was killed last night. It got so that my husband and I could not go to the market to earn a living.

"Slowly the neighbourhood got empty as people left, first in small numbers, then in greater numbers. We had no choice but to leave since our neighbours were either dead, injured or had left.

"A shell landed on our compound and destroyed my husband's wheelbarrow. That day we decided to leave. My husband had a wheelbarrow to carry goods for clients and I had a stall in the market where I sold vegetables.

"We were renting a small house. We did not have much but we survived and our children did not go hungry. My husband used to bring food every day when he came back from the market. Now he cannot even go to the city, because it is not safe.

"Now our home is a small hut. It can protect us from the sun but if it rains I don’t know what we will do.

"We have nothing, not even cooking utensils, and survive on what others give us. We sometimes manage to get one meal a day through the kindness of others.

"I have never begged but I am close to it now. My children are going hungry more and more and I cannot explain to them why we cannot feed them."

ah/mw