As global refugee day is marked on June 20, the plight of the civilian population in Ogaden remains one of the most under-reported crises in the world, due to drastic aid and media access restrictions imposed by Addis Ababa.

Abdidahir Osman sees himself as being almost fortunate to have reached Dadaab alive.

“There were too many dangers. We are pastoralists and the army started limiting access to water for our livestock. Our animals gradually died after which several people were arrested and our land was eventually seized.

“Then I had a small kiosque in town, in Laasoole. But the whole place was burned down. Four hundred families were living there… The soldiers forced us to sit and watch while our village was being torched,” he says.

“I don’t expect ever to go back to my country. Even if I wanted to, everything I had is lost. The place where we lived doesn’t exist anymore, it will now remain a place where a village once was,” Abdidahir mourns.

Nasra Ali Adan and her six children were also among the 40,000 new arrivals registered in Dadaab since the start of the year.

She fled the Ogaden late last year to join her sister in Mogadishu but was forced back on the road almost immediately by the fighting there.

“I still consider myself Ethiopian but I never dream of going back to the Ogaden… My husband was shot by soldiers in front of me. Now that I’m here in Kenya, I can live without the fear of my children being killed.”

ONA.

 

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