Saturday November 4, 2023
Abdullahi Elmi Nur, 70, a father of 10 children living in Beledweyne, Hiran, went around collecting sticks and pieces of clothes to construct a makeshift hut for his family to live in after their house was destroyed in an explosion.
He could not afford to move his family to a rental house, but the hut they are in gives little to no protection as the deyr rainfall continues.
His family is among 400 families in Beledweyne struggling to rebuild their homes and lives following an explosion in the city on 23 September.
“There are reports of possible rainfall, we are worried about river floods. I only know this place and that is why I remained here. We put our trust on God,” Abdullahi said.
Since 2013, he and his family had been living in their own three room iron-sheet house made of iron-sheet. Now they are forced to depend on their relatives for food and other help.
“We are now faced with uncertainty. I call up my relatives when I get confused, they send us whatever they can. Some send us money, some give us rice, that is how we survive,” he said.
Many of his neighbours migrated after the explosion turned their houses to rubble.
“It’s hard to build a house if we don’t get help. The people in the area would be of help but we’re all in the same boat, it’s hard to construct a house because we’re grappling with the bills. Sometimes even our young children don’t get food,” he said.
Abdullahi is a religious cleric and earns $100 a month reading the Koran for people. He used to earn a living with a donkey cart but gave that up due to competition from tuk-tuk taxis.
The explosion happened just 30 metres from their house, as a car loaded with explosives hit a police checkpoint. Three of his children were in the house and sustained injuries after being hit by falling debris.
His daughter in ninth grade had to drop out of school due to her injuries.
“Two [of my children] got head injuries and had to have stitches. The other got a piece of metal that pierced his ankle. We took them to hospital and they received some treatment. The girl with the leg injury is still limping and the affected area is now infected,” said Abdullahi.
Others affected by the explosion include Abdinasir Ahmed Jimale, a tuk-tuk taxi operator in Beledweyne, whose vehicle was damaged. He lost his $15 daily income and is still out of work.
He took his battered three-wheeler to the garage where they informed him repairs would cost $120.
He and his family of six children are living in a tent given them by his aunt set up on their plot of land in Koshin area in Beledweyne.
“I don’t have any job since the bajaj got hit. I had parked it near the area hit by the explosion,” said Abdinasir.
His two room brick house was also damaged and would cost about $1,000 to rebuild.
Worse still, Abdinasir’s mother was among the 18 people killed in the explosion. She had given him $3,500 to buy his tuk-tuk two years ago.
“It has affected me very much, because it’s more painful to lose my mother than even the house. You can understand someone who lost his house and mother, it’s hard to move on now,” said Abdinasir.
Beledweyne district commissioner, Omar Osman Alasow, said that as well as the shock of the explosion, they were challenged by the exodus of people leaving parts of the city due to heightened threats of river floods.
“It is painful that the people who lost their houses in the explosion are now living in fear of floods and the El Nino rainfall. We have shared the situation with the Hirshabelle state government and other concerned institutions. We have collected information on the people who died and those who lost their houses. We hope that we get a response,” he said.