Shugri (26) fled Somalia, in November 2010. This is her story:

Shugri
Photo: Waldo Swiegers

“Most of the time, a lot of people are being killed in Somalia – this is one of the main reasons that forced me to leave Mogadisho and come here to South Africa eventually,” Shugri explains.

“My grandmother and father were killed in Mogadisho. I don’t know who killed them. There is constant fighting and deadly cross fire in the city. When you leave your house to the market, then you will find people dead in the street and nobody knows who killed them,”
But violence isn’t the only challenge associated with the conflict in Somalia.

“Forget about anything that can be called healthcare. There is too much killing that is going on and there are too few hospitals with staff that who can treat you.”

It became impossible for Shugri to survive there and she decided to flee the country.

“Since life is too hard. You get used to hearing bad news all the time, about someone being killed. sooner or later it is someone you know, a relative, like my dad and my grandmother. I had to leave.”

Shugri’s journey was a tough one, taking her along the east coast of Africa, travelling first by boat to Mozambique, and then overland into South Africa. She suffered much hardship and watched fellow travellers die along the way.

“On the way I spent some days without even eating. On the boat there is no food and little water to drinking. We sailed for more than seven days without eating and drinking water. An old man with blood pressure problems he died on the way. They put his body into a sack and they threw him into the ocean…”

Once in Mozambique Shugri contracted malaria, becoming gravely ill but she did not get any medical treatment.

“When we arrived to Mozambique they arrested us all the people. Some of us got malaria in while being kept in the cells. No one gave us medical care and some of us died without access to doctors.”

The months she has spent in Johannesburg have not been easy either, but the she feels safer here than back home.

“With the violence that keeps on going in Somalia, you cannot tell them to stay there. They suffer and they same things await them on the way. It is a dilemma that we face. However hard it is, they have to face the difficulties in fleeing because they don’t have peace at home.”

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