Somalia: Galkayo Mother Walks 24 Kilometers Daily to Fend for Her Family


As UNICEF becomes gravely concerned about thousands of internally displaced Somali families plus children thrown out of school by continued fighting in Galkayo between Puntland and Galmudug regions of Somalia

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.

 Somaliland sun: 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.

In the meantime Thousands of Somali children displaced and out of school due to Galkayo fighting

Thousands of Somali children displaced and out of school due to Galkayo fightingMore than 90,000 people, including at least 20,000 children who were in school, have been displaced by fighting between factions in the Galkayo region of Central Somalia, which began a month ago.

UNICEF Somalia is gravely concerned about thousands of Somali children who are missing school due to the weeks of fighting. All schools in the town of Galkayo have been closed, affecting more than 20,000 children and young people. Teachers have been injured, four schools in Galkayo were damaged, and five schools outside the town are closed as they are now used to house some of the displaced. Any schools still functioning are severely overcrowded.
UNICEF and partners are setting up safe temporary learning spaces for the displaced children to allow them to continue their education and are working to ensure that the teachers receive their incentive allowances.

“This is a very serious situation for the children of Galkayo and is bound to have a major impact on their education and their lives,” said Steven Lauwerier, UNICEF Somalia Representative.

“We must ensure that there are places for children to learn in a safe environment either in temporary spaces or in schools outside town. The children must be given catch up classes and their schools must be protected from further damage.”

Many of the displaced children who have fled Galkayo are particularly vulnerable, as a large number were already displaced from their original homes and were living in settlements. UNICEF and its partners are also concerned with the continuing physical and emotional stress the forced displacement and fighting may put children and their families under.

A child’s right to an education is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Somalia in October 2015.

For more information, please contact:
Susannah Price, Chief of Communication ,
Neven Knezevic, Chief of Education ,
Tsedeye Girma, Emergency Specialist

©UNICEF Somalia