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Last Updated: Monday, 12 November 2007, 13:39 GMT
Displaced in Somalia: Khatija
Somalis describe their lives in and around the capital, Mogadishu, amidst violence between insurgents and government troops backed by Ethiopian forces.

Mother-of-three Khatija, 25, lives in a camp for displaced people in Mogadishu.

Wounded Somali child is treated by an African Union doctor at makeshift hospital , Mogadishu (8/11/2007)
Mogadishu's hospitals are packed with wounded from the fighting
There are approximately 200 families in the camp where I live, and our houses are made of cardboard and plastic which we tie over some wooden sticks.

Earlier this year when the fighting was very bad we had to leave. We went to Afgooye [west of Mogadishu].

Before fleeing the city we had spent a few days hiding in an empty building in the camp because we were scared that the mortars would come through the plastic sheeting we have on our small shelters.

The reason we left was because there was no work.

Because the fighting was in and around Mogadishu's main market, Bakara, the market was not open for business and so we were not able to earn our living by carrying goods for the traders.

We stayed in Afgooye for three months.

Malaria and diarrhoea

When we got there the first thing that happened was that all of our children got malaria and diarrhoea. There were many people, all from different places and we all lived together on the same land - none of us had any shelter.

Somalis flee Mogadishu with their belonging loaded onto donkey carts

My children did not die but children all around us were dying.

If our children were very sick we took them back to Mogadishu to the Banadir hospital but to get from Afgooye to Banadir cost 50 cents.

We would have to stand in the street begging and wait until we collected enough money.

But here in Mogadishu, now we are back, if our babies get sick we either stay at home or take the babies to the therapeutic feeding centre.

No work, no money, no food

The majority of the time though, the baby dies.

I lost one baby two years ago.

We take them to the feeding centre because it is free, but sometimes they cannot do anything.

Ethiopia should pull out its troops before it is too late, they are part of the problem not part of the solution
Mustafa, Leicester

If there are a lot of checkpoints we don't go out, but we have been lucky because near our camp there are not too many checkpoints.

Every morning I go to Bakara market and the children stay at the camp. I only take the smallest one, who I'm still breast-feeding.

If one of children is sick I can't go to work.

If I can afford it then I take my sick child to hospital and while I am away at the hospital, I ask my neighbours to look after my other children.

And if there is fighting there then there is no work, and if there is no work there is no money, and if there is no money there is no food.


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