Somalia + 1 more

Somalia: Ali Hussein Diriye: "All we have is freedom"

BURAO, 28 June 2007 (IRIN) - Ali Hussein Diriye, 78, is a resident of Kosar camp in Burao, one of the main cities in the self-declared republic of Somaliland, northwest Somalia. Kosar is home to thousands of Somali returnees from Ethiopia. Diriye spoke to IRIN about his life in the camp.

"We were among the first groups of families to settle in Kosar in 2001. We came from the Daroor refugee camp in Ethiopia's Somali region.

"We used to live in a rented house in Burao but were forced to flee our homes in 1988 when the civil war led by Siad Barre [Somalia's president from 1969-1991] broke out. We became displaced and ended up in the refugee camp.

"After the end of the war, when we came back, we had nothing. We had no land, no buildings or even a plot to return to in Burao.

"Over time, the number of people in my family here at the camp has increased to 11. My oldest son is 40 while my youngest child is eight.

"My son is also a father and his family is living with us too. Life is difficult for us because despite being the head of the family, I have no job.

"We have been forced to rely on relatives in towns who are working in construction sites or operating their own businesses to support us.

"Before the war, life was easier. My wife was working in a slaughterhouse where she would buy and sell goats. I was working as a foreman attached to the ministry of hides and skins.

"But now, food is sometimes hard to come by; in terms of feeding, the refugee camps were better.

"Here, all we have is freedom."