July 16 2009

Families in Mogadishu move out of the SOS Children's Village

16/07/2009 - The worsening security situation in Somalia's capital town Mogadishu has caused the evacuation of the SOS Children's Village for the second time in 18 months.

Photo: SOS Archives
Mogadishu: The children can not live normal lives - Photo: SOS Archives

Due to the deteriorating situation in Mogadishu the SOS families have once again moved out of the SOS Children's Village into temporary homes for their own safety. The families are now living on the outskirts of the city in makeshift accommodation which, while not very comfortable, is at least safe for the moment.

The SOS Children's Village Mogadishu had only been reoccupied six months ago when the families moved back, after leaving in December 2007 when mortars hit the village, killing one SOS aunt and injuring an SOS mother. At the time the families were relocated into houses in different parts of the city, considered to be out of the danger zone. Once the Ethiopian army left Mogadishu in January 2009 it was deemed safe for the families to return to the village and for the school to relocate back to its own premises. However, the security situation in Mogadishu has since worsened as the Al-Shabaab group fights for control of the city.

Children return to take exams

Village director, Osman Shukri Sheikh, is currently in Nairobi to discuss the situation. He said that although the SOS families are not as comfortable as they were, they at least feel that they are far away from the fighting because they are not hearing the boom of shells any more. "But life is not as usual", he added. For example, the children are no longer attending school which is located on the village premises. However, those who had to take exams this week have been transported to the school, so that they can at least finish off their studies. Once the exams are over the school will close for the scheduled summer break. Reopening will depend on the security situation in Mogadishu in September.

Families are fleeing Mogadishu - Photo: Reuters/Feisel Omar, courtesy www.alertnet.org

Worried about the future

"It has been a big challenge", continued Osman Shukri Sheikh, "to see the children first living in dangerous conditions, and now living in poor conditions. You cannot do what you are supposed to do for those children because moving around is very dangerous. You feel helpless".

Ahmed Ibrahim, the national director for SOS Children's Villages Somalia, said that it is the future of the children that is his main worry. "Mogadishu has been a battle ground for many years and our children cannot live normal lives if they have to continually move around to safer areas. We are reviewing the situation and looking for a more permanent solution."

The SOS Hospital meanwhile, located next to the children's village, is still functioning under difficult conditions.