Hassan Sugal Takoy
A social worker in Dadaab

We had to flee Somalia in 1992, when I was five. I cannot remember well what was going on but I very vividly remember the fighting due to the civil war.
There were rumors that women were being raped. My mother would hide in the bushes because of the threats from the men. Once, some men found her and beat her, leaving her unconscious. My father was killed when we were trying to leave. He was attacked by unknown armed men. Some of our neighbours were also killed, and all the livestock were taken.
My mother took us to another village which was calmer. From here she heard that people were fleeing to Liboi, a Kenyan border town, so we went. We stayed there for over 10 days after which we were relocated to Dagahaley camp in Dadaab.
I remember receiving a tent and utensils. Our life as refugees had begun. It was a tiresome journey, and we were afraid. Everybody was hungry and my mother was sad. It was very hard to see her cry every time she would talk  to us about her experience fleeing the war in Somalia. I would have to leave our tent to go cry. But I knew I had to be strong for her. I would come back and hold her hand to comfort her. Our neighbours would join us and comfort us, but my mother was suspicious of everyone due to the death of her husband. She was afraid, and thought that someone amongst those fleeing had killed her husband. This made it difficult for me and my family to get support.
It was a painful time for me and my family. No human should live like this: fleeing war, hunger, and hatred. It is a bad life.
In 2003, my mother passed away. At one point she complained of chest pains, and a few months later she had extreme headaches. Her health was deteriorating daily to the point she was vomiting blood. She was bedridden for about three months and she died. I was only a teenager. She did not have to die, she was only 50. Her death left us lonely. My reaction to the announcement of closure of the Dadaab camp* was that of frustration, shock and fear. I freaked out, and I could not move. If I have to go back, I feel I will not be safe. I am afraid I could be forcefully recruited to join an armed group. I am extremely scared. I do not wish to die. I am only 29 years old. Dagahaley is the place I know as home. (October 13, 2016)
* In May 2016, the Government of Kenya announced that the Dadaab camps would be closed, essentially bringing an end to 25 years of refuge for thousands who call it home. Almost one year later, in February 2017, the Kenyan High Court declared that any closure would be illegal. The government has however maintained its stance in favour of the closure, although the deadline of May 2017 has now passed.

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