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Restoring hope for refugees: a Story from the Ali Addeh Camp in Djibouti

Saturday January 20, 2018

Over the past two years, EU humanitarian support has been instrumental to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) work in Djibouti. Every month, WFP ensures 18 500 refugees are given assistance in the form of food and cash. WFP’s Miguel Tomas meets Kalsouma who has been living as a refugee in Djibouti since more than 25 years.

Djibouti, a country with a desert-like climate, where two out of five people live in extreme poverty, hosts over 26 000 refugees. The vast majority of them reside in camps.

Kalsouma Ahmed Adbi, a wife and mother of six, is one of them. She and her family fled their home in Somalia in 1991 to escape from the war. They have been living in the Ali Addeh camp ever since.

Settling in wasn’t easy. With no fixed income and six children to feed, Kalsouma and her husband struggled to take care of their family. “When I arrived here, it was difficult,” she says. “I couldn’t have a normal life anymore.”

However, with the support she receives from the World Food Program (WFP), things have changed for the better. Funding from the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department allows WFP to provide Kalsouma and thousands of others like her with a combination of food and cash.

This mixed form of assistance helps refugees and asylum seekers get the food they need to stay healthy. “Now, our situation is better and I can choose what my family and I eat,” smiles Kalsouma. “Thanks to the food and cash we receive, we have a more varied diet which includes milk, vegetables and meat.”

Kalsouma can now take better care of herself and her family. This has not only improved her health, but has also given her the opportunity to work and earn money within the camp.

Back in Somalia, she used to help her husband manage a sewing workshop and this experience has come in handy during her time in Ali Addeh. “Being healthy allows me to work,” she says. “I now sew handkerchiefs and handbags, earning money to help my family.”

When thinking of the future, Kalsouma remains hopeful. Her children are doing well and she is happy that her two little boys, Hanas and Dini, can go to school. “I hope that one day peace will be restored in Somalia and we will be able to return home,” she says. “In the meantime, I wish I could have my own sewing workshop in Djibouti and provide consistent support to my family.”

Cash assistance offered by WFP thanks to the EU’s humanitarian funding means much-needed relief for refugee families but also a considerable boost for Djibouti’s economy, with thousands of refugee shoppers buying food in local shops and markets.



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