We went to a camp on the other side of town today. I was not expecting to find such large numbers of Mogadishu displaced in the camps. The chairperson said they had received between 600-700 people displaced from Mogadishu. We speak with numerous people today. They are some of the most recent arrivals from Mogadishu, they are young mothers many of them, with children and they have absolutely nothing, they have come to Galcayo to flee the fighting in Mogadishu. There are consistent stories of people witnessing horrific things as they were fleeing. Many have left and are lucky to have their lives. 3 separate people tell us the house next to them as destroyed when artilleries fell on them, they could all tell us how many people were in each of the houses when it was destroyed, all of which died.
People tell of running and not looking back, being separated from children, husbands and family members on the way, and still not knowing where they are. Even when they have made away from the fighting, the journey out of Mogadishu is perilous. The roads are scattered with thieves and bandits who set up road blocks, where they demand money to pass. If you run out of money then they begin to take your personal belongings. By the time most of them arrive here, they have absolutely nothing, just the clothes on their backs. We have been told there are approximately 150 checkpoint between Mogadishu and here, that is only 750 km, it should only take a couple of days but with the roadblocks and the searches the journey takes anywhere between 7 to 12 days now, depending on if you have problems at some of the checkpoints.
Sometimes it is hard to put into words what you see and hear. If I tell you the stories verbatim, you may feel a sense of hopelessness and these are incredibly tragic stories in incredibly brutal circumstances. But when you talk to these people you are mostly struck by the resilience. These people are focused on survival, there is no time to sit around and be sad they are focused on finding work and building a life for their families.
I ask one woman where she is living in the camp, I assumed she had family. She tells me she knows no one here and her daughter was 6 months pregnant when they arrived and miscarried on arrival. She told me that someone in the camp moved out of their small shelter and stayed with another family to let her and her children have somewhere to stay. I am not sure if I could say the same thing would in my community. Amongst all of this chaos there are incredible acts of compassion which are quite humbling.