Khabor lived with 12 siblings in Somalia’s Suddur village near the border with Ethiopia, farming potatoes and barley and raising livestock. Since his father was paralysed, his mother Anav Haasan took care of the fieldwork as well as the family. But life was not easy, there was never even food and the land owners treated them badly.
One day a gang of men with guns arrived at his home and stole all the grain. His uncle was shot. Khabor’s sister tried to run away, but was raped. Khabor came to Mogadishu with his 17-year-old brother and 15-year-old sister. He started washing dishes at a hotel, leaving early in the morning and coming back late in the night. He found out too late that his sister was pregnant with the child of a high class man who had promised to marry her, but instead threatened to kill him if he spoke about it.
Fighting erupted in Mogadishu, and Khabor could not get away from work. When he got to his room, his brother and sister were missing. He left, travelling through Kenya to Uganda. “I don’t think any of my 13 family members are alive now,” said Khabor one recent evening in Kathmandu. “When I see Nepalis happy with their families, I remember my childhood, the barley bread and soup that my mother used to make. I remember the yard where I used to play. I cry a lot.”
In Kathmandu, Khabor met a few other Somalis like him. Among them was Marian Abdulhi, who had seen her husband and father murdered in front of her eyes, and also fled to Uganda. She also paid $10,000 to traffickers to get to Naples.
Khabor and Abdulhi are married, and now have a 4-year-old daughter.
“Even mourning and grieving needs time, which we do not have,” says Khabor. “So we cry in the night after the city goes to sleep.”
Abdi Rasid, 27, and his two siblings used to live in Mogadishu. When the fighting started, three armed men entered their home, killed their father inside his shop, and then shot his mother, brother and sister in the yard. Abdi, a witness to this terror, managed to hide and was helped by his father’s friend. Abdi met a trafficker who promised to take him to Australia, but landed up in Kathmandu as well.
“A man who came to get me at the airport said this was Australia,” Abdi recalls. “He told me I would be working in a hotel, and took me into one.” The hotel turned him out the next day, and he spent the night in an alley. He also received an UNHCR ID, and eventually married Sudi Abdi Ameena, a fellow Somali who had entered Nepal a month before he did.
The Nepal government has decided to waive the delayed visa fees of Somali refugees, and deport them. They do not want to go back to Somalia where a civil war is still raging. “I saw my parents and siblings murdered before my eyes, how can I take my child there?” asks Abdi, whose one-year-old son needs a kidney transplant.
There are 27 Somali refugees in Nepal, and they do not know where to go next. Says Abdi: “The world has abandoned us.”