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Hardship and Hope Unite Two Somali Refugees in Tunisia

Jedi and Abdulkadir are two Somali refugees from Mogadishu who had been working in Libya for a few years before having to flee after violence erupted earlier this year. They both share the burden of exile and high hopes for a future that can erase their tragic past.

Despite lives filled with incredible hardships, Jedi Momal Iman and Abdulkadir Muktar Molim, Somali migrant workers living in Shousha camp in southern Tunisia can still smile and hope that life will start anew. (Copyright: WFP/Julia Stewart)

Jedi and Abdulkadir are two Somali refugees from Mogadishu who had been working in Libya for a few years before having to flee after violence erupted earlier this year. They both share the burden of exile and high hopes for a future that can erase their tragic past.

Ras Ajdir, TUNISIA -- Despite a staggering age gap, Jedi Momal  Iman and Abdulkadir Muktar Molim became good friends soon after they arrived in a refugee camp on a sandy plain in southern Tunisia earlier this year. Jedi, 40, and Abdulkadir, 20, had been living in Shousha camp since last February.

The two men discovered they came from the same neighborhood in central Mogadishu; they shared the fate of two flights; from their native Somalia and then again from Libya where they both worked as construction workers.

Abdulkadir spent his childhood in fear after being randomly shot in the street at 14. “It was too crazy,” he recalls. “Life had no meaning; I woke up every morning asking myself: will I live or die today,” he said lifting his sweatshirt to show the entry and exit bullet wounds.

He took his chances and escaped from Somalia first to Yemen and Saudi Arabia and then to Italy. He was returned each time to Mogadishu before he managed to settle in Libya working in construction at the Tripoli zoo. He sent most of his salary home to support his poor, elderly parents in Mogadishu.

Jedi also sent his hard-earned money home to two younger brothers who are caring for his three children whose mother died after a violent assault in Mogadishu.
Abdulkadir and Jedi are among nearly 4,000 refugees in Shousha camp -- a few kilometres from the Tunisian-Libyan border of Ras Ajdir -- who cannot be returned to their native countries.

WFP provides the camp with pasta, couscous, tomato paste and vegetable oil as well as wheat flour for baked bread. Other organizations provide complementary food such as fresh vegetables, rice, meat and milk for pregnant and nursing mothers.

Dream a little dream

Both men share the dreams of a new life, in a new place.

“At night, I contemplate whether to return to Libya, even though I was not treated well there, because I must send money back to my remaining family in Somalia. Then I think, no, just hold on. Wait until you can get to a good place.”

Abdulkadir thinks about his plans to study computer technology. “I might be able to finally be able to finally start my life when I get on a flight to the USA,” he says.