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War in central Somalia forces children from Amara out of school

Wednesday April 24, 2024

Children sitting for primary school/ Radio Ergo

(ERGO) –  The education of scores of children has been disrupted after families living in the central Somali town of Amara were forced to flee during the recent recapture of the town from government forces by Al-Shabab militia.

It is estimated that 2,500 families left their homes in Amara in February, scattering to locations near and far, such as Garab-Adde, Dhaan-daya, Seego, Godinlabe, Adado, and Bahdo in Mudug and Galgadud regions.

Most of the children of these families have not been able to find alternative schools.

Hussein Farah Awale, 70, a father of 14 children and husband to three wives, had 10 of his children in school in Amara. When the town was taken over, he moved one of his wives and five older children to stay with their relatives in Bari IDP camp in Adado, more than 200 kilometres away, to access a free school.

As he couldn’t afford to move all his large family to Adado, he and the rest of his family went to the village of Garab-Adde, 10 kilometres outside Amara. His younger children cannot reach their school in Amara and there is no school in the village.

Hussein is worried that his younger children will miss the national exams scheduled in May.

“If we had peace, we would resume the children’s schooling and return to our lives together, but without peace we don’t have any plans. If we get peace we can go back to our lives but if we don’t we cannot do much except rely on God,” said Hussein.

Hussein said they struggle to find food and water in their new village although local families who are pastoralists and farmers sometimes help them. They sleep rough under the trees, as they left all their belongings behind whilst fleeing Amara.

“We have fallen on hard times as we were living in the town and now we’re living in the remote areas. I came here along with children, elderly people and pregnant women. We don’t have food or water. We will only be able to get the children back in school once everything else is in order,” he said.

Also displaced from his home in Amara by the conflict is Abdiweli Abdullahi Ada, who has been supporting his four nieces and nephew since their father died in 2020. Also prioritising education, he has moved with the children to Adado where they joined tuition-free Omar Al-Faruk school.

Immediately on fleeing Amara, they went to Dhaan-daya village, where they stayed for two months but were unhappy because there were no schools.

“We decided to find another place where the children can get a better life and education, so we came to Adado here, hoping to find better living conditions and education in this area” he said.

Abdiweli said he was looking for a teaching job to enable them to stay in the town and make a living.

“We have got the life we were looking for in Adado, we have got peace and education, the rest will follow God willing,” he said optimistically.

Abdiweli said they couldn’t find any vehicle to transport them and their 20 goats in the scramble to get out of Amara, so they had to abandon the livestock.

Children in Amara were being educated at the town’s only primary and secondary school that has been supported by the diaspora for the last 14 years.

According to Mohamud Mohamed Jama, the head of Iftin, an umbrella organisation that oversees 11 schools in Mudug and Galgadud regions, there were 300 students enrolled at Amara school and only 40 have been able to continue their education in schools in Adado.

The rest of the children had been forced out of school at a critical time, due to the chaos caused by the ongoing conflict.

“The school in Amara was important for the people. There are five batches of students who have graduated from the secondary school since 2009 and the sixth was set to graduate,” Mohamud said.


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