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Genet Mengesha - "Yemen is still my destination"

A group of would-be Ethiopian migrants sleep outside a building in Bosasso Photo IRIN

Ethiopia - Genet Mengesha - "Yemen is still my destination"

Story Published in IRIN

BOSASSO, 10 December 2007 (IRIN)
- Genet Mengesha, a 24-year-old mother of one and former university student, left her home in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, shortly after the 2005 elections to reach Yemen through the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia.

"I left with my husband and a group of other migrants. We were led by a broker we met in Addis, who took us to Nazareth and then on to Harar.

"I left Addis after my brother was killed in the violence that followed the elections [in 2005]. I did not feel safe and was tired of the violence.

"The trip was dangerous but I prayed day and night to get through it.

"Some of the brokers took our money and delivered on their promises but others were very bad and cruel. The worst part of the trip was when we got to Burao [Somaliland]. The broker there was so cruel. He held us prisoner for 15 days. He robbed us and took everything we had, including mobile phones. He even killed three people, a woman and two men, for trying to escape.

"There were days when we did not eat but Burao was the worst experience of the whole trip.

"It took us 30 days to do the journey from Addis to Bosasso, including walking the last four days to reach Bosasso.

"Bosasso was not what we thought it would be - it was very, very hot and we had no one to help us. We had no money, so we had to do any odd job we could get. I worked in tea shops to clean and take tea to customers.

"At night we sleep in front of buildings and move on in the morning or if you are lucky you get to sleep in one of the 'bushes' [a tea kiosk during the day].

"I spent a total of US$300 to come to Bosasso, but now we have to raise $100 for the trip to Yemen [to pay smugglers].

"By then I was pregnant and my husband and I decided it would be impossible to raise all the money, so he would go first and then send for me. Unfortunately, my husband died on the way and now it is just me and my girl [nine-month-old Sabrina].

"I love my country but I cannot go back now, and I cannot stay in Bosasso; there is no life here for me and my daughter.

"It is not a trip I would wish on anyone but I must find a better life for my daughter, so Yemen is still my destination."


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