‘We cannot just die here,” Siida’s husband told her. Mohammed stood at the doorway of what remained of their five-bedroom house in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, their three eldest children at his side. “If I don’t come back let us forgive each other. You must take care of the rest of the family.”
Inside the crumbling house, three-year-old Nimo, the couple’s youngest child, was wailing. Mohammed turned and walked down the street, determined to take his three teenage children to school.
The fighting in Mogadishu had been particularly fierce during the past few weeks. Siida and Mohammed had stayed in the city throughout all the previous wars that had battered the once-beautiful seaside capital over the past two decades. It had never been as bad as this, though. Their house had been hit by mortars and bullets. One night uniformed fighters – Siida didn’t know from which faction – had come to their house and stolen everything they owned. “Even my scarf,” she recalled. Her younger sister was raped; her children were terrorised.
The morning Mohammed left to take the children to school the fighting was on their street. Within hours Siida realised it wasn’t safe enough to stay. She gathered her seven remaining children and left Mogadishu.
From my piece in last weekend’s Sunday Herald about the Bush administration’s other dumb ‘war on terror’ policy. The rest is here.
Brendan Bannon also took some wonderful photos, but I can’t find them on the website, which is a shame. Take a look at his slideshow on Congolese refugees in South Sudan instead