Grown up in civil war

Why A. escaped Somalia

Siamo cresciuti entrambi con l’assenza di un governo, in mezzo alla guerra civile. Noi abbiamo sempre visto militari con i fucili e posti di blocco. I genitori erano sempre preoccupati, si era sicuri di uscire la mattina, ma non di tornare la sera. Molte cose sono successe nella mia famiglia, persino mio padre, una mattina è uscito e non è più tornato. Mio fratello andava all’università, una mattina è uscito e non è più tornato.
Sono stato in questa situazione per tutta la mia vita, per diciotto anni. Molte volte ho pensato di morire e invece ero vivo. Per fare un esempio, un giorno mentre stavo andando a scuola hanno aperto il fuoco sul bus su cui viaggiavo. È morta una persona vicino a me, ho sentito il calore del suo sangue. Pensavo di essere ferito e sono sceso, non si riescono a raccontare tutte le cose che abbiamo passato. Si poteva morire anche senza nessuna ragione. Questa è la ragione per cui ho pensato di andarmene.

We both grew up in the midst of civil war without a government. We always saw soldiers with guns and checkpoints. Parents were always worried, you were sure to go out in the morning but not sure to come back in the evening. A lot happened in my family, even my father left one morning and never came back. My brother went to university one morning and never came back. I was in this situation all my life, for eighteen years. I often thought about the possibility of dying and instead I was alive. For example, when I went to school one day, they opened fire in the bus I was riding in. A person near me died, I felt the warmth of his blood. I thought I was hurt and I went outside. You don’t get to tell all this the way we went through it. You could die for no reason. That’s the reason why I left.

A. is from Somalia. This is an excerpt from the conversation he had in 2009 with other Somali refugees and the Archivio Memorie Migranti (Archive of Migrant Memories). The archive collects and publishes oral and written biographical reports of refugees.

The civil war that forced A. to flee Somalia developed from the armed resistance of various forces against the dictator Siad Barre, who had been in power since 1969 and was overthrown in 1991. After that, Somalia had no functioning central government for more than 20 years. The country fell apart into spheres of influence of various actors such as clans, militias, warlords and radical Islamist groups. The political situation remains unstable to this day, which has led to far-reaching violations of human rights. In addition, the population of Somalia suffers from severe poverty and hunger, particularly as a result of the droughts of recent years. 11See Amnesty International, 2017/18: Somalia 2017/18. Country report, in: Amnesty International, https://www.amnesty.de/jahresbericht/2018/somalia#section-3692194 (24.03.2020). As a result, according to UNHCR figures, more than 870,000 Somalis are registered as refugees in the Horn of Africa and Yemen, while approximately 2.1 million are believed to have fled internally. 22See UNHCR, 2018: Somalia, in: UNHCR, January 2018, https://www.unhcr.org/somalia.html (24.03.2020).

    Footnotes

  • 1See Amnesty International, 2017/18: Somalia 2017/18. Country report, in: Amnesty International, https://www.amnesty.de/jahresbericht/2018/somalia#section-3692194 (24.03.2020).
  • 2See UNHCR, 2018: Somalia, in: UNHCR, January 2018, https://www.unhcr.org/somalia.html (24.03.2020).

Archivio Memorie Migranti, 2009: Sul cerchio narrativo con i ragazzi somali uscì allora un intervento a più mani di Igiaba Scego, Marco Carsetti e Sandro Triulzi su Lo straniero n. 107, http://www.archiviomemoriemigranti.net/cerchio-narrativo-rifugiati-somali-CN/1 (28.11.2019).

Translation from Italian © Minor.

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