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Donation Funnel
view of make-shift homes made of straw and a tent in ethiopia

Nowhere to call home

In his second blog as a regular blogger, Charles Njanga, Islamic Relief’s Regional Media Creator for Africa, recounts a trip to Ethiopia where he worked with refugees.

On 20 June every year, the world marks World Refugee Day. This is a day to remember the millions of people who have been uprooted from their homes, some never to return.

I have been working with refugees for a long time now, first in Tanzania then in Kenya and the wider East Africa Region.

I have met amazing people who have been forced to flee from their countries. Their lives have been changed forever, some quite tragically.

There are some situations that are hard to understand. You flee for safety to a neighbouring country and after staying there for some time, fighting breaks out and suddenly, you are forced to flee again.

That is what is happening in Sudan, where fighting has been raging on since 15 April. The fighting is between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Forced to flee

According to the United Nations nearly 1.9 million people have fled to safer locations inside and outside Sudan since the conflict began.

When fighting first broke out, I thought about the Ethiopian refugees I met at Um Rakuba Refugee Camp in Sudan’s Gedarif State during my visit in February 2021. What would happen to them if the fighting continued?

Muez, a young father of 1, fled for Sudan when conflict broke out in Ethiopia
Image: Muez, a young father of 1, fled for Sudan when conflict broke out in Ethiopia.

One of the people I met then was Muez, a youth leader at the camp. The then 21-year-old was a father of 1. When conflict erupted in Ethiopia, he had fled with some family members but had been separated from his wife. To his joy and astonishment, he was reunited with her at Um Rakuba Refugee Camp.

Dashed hopes

Muez had been looking forward to going back to his home as life in the camp was hard: “I don’t have a job and can’t provide for my family. This makes me feel frustrated,” he told me.

I have many worries, but there is not much that I can do. At least I am alive, many were not so lucky.

Muez, a young father of 1, fled for Sudan when conflict broke out in Ethiopia.

Mulu, is a 30-year-old woman who was living with disability. When we visited her, it was nearly lunchtime and she was making injera, a traditional Ethiopia flat bread that is part of every meal. She was living at the camp with her husband and a 16-year-old orphaned boy that she had taken under her care.

Mulu, a refugee from Ethiopia, with a traditional flatbread
Image: Mulu, a refugee from Ethiopia, with a traditional flatbread.

Mulu told me that she missed her family that had been left behind. “I am disabled, but I worry about them more than I worry about myself,” she said, adding:

I don’t have clothes, or a mobile phone to get in touch with my family.

Mulu, a refugee from Ethiopia.

As the fighting rages on in Sudan, I think about these people and how life has turned out for them. Where are they now?

Refugees are people who had many dreams and were well settled in their lives before being forced to flee. Anyone can become a refugee, you and I included.

Islamic Relief is supporting refugees in the Horn of Africa with essential items and shelter, as well as offering long-term support to those caught up in protracted crises. Please help us to continue this vital work. Donate now.

Charles is one of our regular bloggers. Each month, he’ll share stories from his work with Islamic Relief.

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