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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 November 2007, 09:18 GMT
Displaced in Somalia: Yusuf
Somalis describe their lives in and around the capital, Mogadishu, amidst violence between insurgents and government troops backed by Ethiopian forces.

Yusuf, 35, fled Mogadishu last month to the town of Galcayo.

Somalis ride a truck laden with their belongings as they leave their neighbourhoods
Military roadblocks are making it difficult for civilians to flee the city
Words cannot explain what it was like.

To move around Mogadishu was getting more and more difficult day by day.

From my house there is only one way to pass and it is incredibly dangerous.

I used to try and do everything in the morning: look for food or get credit for my mobile phone.

The mornings are generally a little quieter - there is little shooting and shelling first thing in the morning.

But by 1600 local time there is no movement and by the time it is dark we sit and listen to the gunshots and mortars.

Terrible feeling

I have even heard of people not being able to bring their sick and injured to the hospital in the evening.

Somalis and their belongings in a car as they flee from their neighbourhood in Mogadishu
The UN says 100,000 people have left Mogadishu in the last two weeks

My mother told me of a woman who died because she went into labour one evening and could not get to the hospital; she died during the night.

I had lived in Mogadishu all my life, my three children were born there and I was married there, my life is there. I finally left with my mother; we were the last to leave.

I had sent my wife and children away in March to stay with relatives. It was when the shelling and the fighting in Mogadishu became too much of a risk for them.

I thought they would at least be safe in Galcayo; there was little I could do to protect them in Mogadishu; this is a terrible feeling for a father.

I stayed behind to look after our house and try to keep working but it is impossible and I needed to take my mother away.

Running for my life

I am scared.

Somalis flee Mogadishu with their belonging loaded onto donkey carts

Mogadishu has had trouble in the past, but now, in these past months, I have never seen fighting like this.

I don't know how to describe it but I feel like I am running for my life.

Everyone is leaving, if you are lucky enough to have money and somewhere to go you leave Mogadishu; if not you try to find somewhere safer within Mogadishu, but really there is nowhere safe.

The journey between Mogadishu and Galcayo also has its dangers.

I have seen checkpoints throughout my life, in a way I am used to them, but now it is unlike anything else I have seen.


I tried to count the checkpoints on the way here but there are too many.

I managed to count 86 over 300km, but I forgot to count the ones as we were leaving Mogadishu because I was too busy watching and looking around and worrying about getting out safely.

The journey itself took six days with all of these new checkpoints.

Generally there is a system: the driver pays a fee of about one million Somali shillings ($55) for the entire bus and we then pass. However, these days, we don't know who these people are.

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

It is lawless and the system has gone.

Half-way through our journey we came to a checkpoint where the money was not enough and they took everything, our mobile phones, our clothes, and our money - everything from everyone.

After that the journey became so much harder, because we had nothing to give at the other checkpoints.

At one point we were kept overnight at a checkpoint because they refused to believe we had been robbed of everything. Eventually they realised we really had nothing to give and they let us pass the following morning.

Now I am here with nothing but the clothes I wear.

I am not sure what will happen now but I am here now and I am with my family and we are alive.

Fierce clashes on the streets of Mogadishu


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