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Somali refugees start new life after sojourn in Kenya

22 September 2015, 21:35

Mogadishu - Fatima was busy serving tea to her loyal customers as sweltering heat engulfed the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

The jolly former refugee engaged her clients in a banter as she is navigating a new path after a five-year sojourn at Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp.

"I have been away from home as a refugee for five years now, but I am happy to be return to my motherland," said Fatima as she was warming tea for a new customer.

Fatima is one of the over 4,000 Somali refugees who have voluntarily returned to their homeland from Dadaab since last December following a deal signed by Kenya, Somalia and the UN refugee agency.

"Selling tea in the streets is not the best you can do, but when you know you are in your motherland, that comfort saves you the agony," she said.

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Her story is typical of most Somali women who were displaced by war, lost their property, jobs and some even husbands, and were forced to become the breadwinners for the children.

"I lost my husband to the bitter conflict which ravaged this country for over two decades. So I am solely responsible for my children," Fatima told Xinhua.

After decades of civil war, Somalia is struggling to rise from the ashes.

Millions of Somalis spread in different parts of the world are slowly returning home.

Those in the West and the Gulf states feel inspired to go back and rebuild their homes.

However, for those who have spent their lives in refugee camps in Kenya and Yemen, the stories are different. They are facing the harsh reality of starting from scratch due to lack of money and life skills.

Nevertheless the comfort of returning home prevailed the hardship ahead, pushing many refugees to set off.

"The security situation in Somalia remain precarious while jobs are scarce, but home remains the best option for us refugees having tasted the bitter fruits of displacement for too long," Fatima said.

Sucado Muhidin, a 41-year-old single mother, is now working at her uncle's shop in Mogadishu after returning from Dadaab.

She is determined to rebuild her shattered life for her children.

"I want a good life for my children so I have to work hard every day to ensure they get a good education and lead a better life than mine," said Muhidin, expressing optimism about the future the country.

According to the tripartite repatriation deal, a total of 425,000 voluntary refugees are expected to return to Somalia within the next five years.

Mohamed Dalha, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Somali Federal Parliament, told Xinhua there were "elaborate plans" in place to facilitate the re-integration of the returnees.

"We are working hard to create a conducive environment for Somali diaspora returning home. There are sound policies and legislation to promote job creation for the returnees," said Dalha.

- Xinhua


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