Mimouna, an elderly Somali woman, fled famine and civil war back home for the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya.
There was no help for her there. She had no choice. So with her daughter, step-daughter and their children, she took to the road to join the other 400,000 refugees already living there.
She explained to euronews: “We always lived on our farm with our animals. But they are all dead. Most of our family had already left, especially the men because they can move about more easily.”
Her step-daughter went into labour on the way to Dadaab, but the child did not survive.
Mimouna had to register on arrival. She had her fingerprints taken and she was given ration cards which allow her one hot meal per day. She took 45 days and 45 nights to get here.
“It was really hard. We started our journey by car, but we were ambushed on the way. The thieves took everything. We slept under the stars sometimes,” Mimouna said.
The refugees, most of them Somali, try to return to some kind of normality. They have crossed thousands of kilometres to the brink of exhaustion.
Mimouna says the camp is the least worst option because “at least here it’s safe. We get medication and they are lots of NGOs working here to help us.”
Dadaab was constructed in the 1990s in the midst of Somalia’s civil war. At that time, it could host 90,000 people. Since then, it has become a large canvas city. Several NGOs work here and the communication between is difficult. They take charge of basic medical care and distribute food.
Mimouna does not know if she has a future outside Dadaab. “I’m an elderly mother and have a lot of health problems. I have painful joints, which hurt a lot. I feel that my health is not what it was and I don’t see so well. I’m an old lady now.”
“I won’t go back to Somalia because here, at least. I’m safe. I have food. It’s not much, it’s true, but it’s better than nothing. I don’t well want to go back to that hellish place,” she concluded.