Mohamed Abdi Yusuf: My Feet Have Carried Me Back

When I was a young boy, I yearned to leave Somalia. I wanted to travel wherever my feet could carry me, in search of a better life. Eventually, I attempted to travel to Europe through Libya. I was arrested in Libya, and sent back to Somalia. I tried to leave Somalia once again. This time, I wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia through Yemen. When I got to Yemen, I ran out money. I thought I would only stay in the country for a few days, but I ended up staying for much longer. In fact, I made Yemen my home for six years. And now, my feet have carried me back home to Somalia.

I am 29 years old and a father of three children. I started my family in Yemen. I tried hard to support my family when I lived in Yemen. I took up all sorts of informal jobs like packing clothes in stores but my earnings were never enough to cover my family’s needs. To help us make ends meet, I registered as a refugee. At the refugee camp we were given food, which allowed me to save and use the small amount I earned to cover our additional needs. We were happy, and we lived in peace.

When war broke out in Yemen, everything turned upside down. Besides insecurity, the food we relied on was no longer guaranteed, and it became more difficult for me to find work. Added to this, a number of Somali people lived in fear because both parties of the war suspected that we supported the other party. Both parties considered us a threat.

I eventually moved my family to Al Kharaz, a rural area, that I thought would be safe. It was not as we had thought. The same troubles we were running from followed us to Al Kharaz. At this point, I started seriously considering returning to Somalia. If I had enough money, we would have left immediately.

One day, I heard from one of my friends that there were ships that were taking Somalis back home at no charge. As proof of my desperation, you will see from the records that I was actually the second passenger to register for transportation.

My family and I were given a very comfortable room on the ship, and provided all the food and water that we needed. We really enjoyed the trip! We travelled in a way that we had never expected!

We received a warm welcome in Hargeisa. Besides medical care and a hot meal, each of us was given several items that we really needed like blankets, bathing soap, and buckets. We were then transported to this facility. We will stay here, and God willing, we will be helped to travel back to my hometown, Hiiraan. We are truly so grateful to the people who organized the trip by boat, and this warm reception and ongoing assistance.

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR:  29 year-old Mohamed Abdi Yusuf is one of the 127 Somalis whom IOM evacuated from war-torn Yemen on 7 November 2016.The men, women and children arrived in Berbera, Somaliland, from Aden, Yemen on a boat organized by IOM with financial support from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief). This is the first evacuation under the one-year USD 10 million KSrelief-funded project implemented by IOM and UNHCR: "Increased Access to Safe Movement, Protection and Durable Solutions for Returnees, Refugees and Migrants Fleeing the Yemen Crisis". The successful operation paves the way for the planned evacuation of 2,500 Somali nationals who are still stranded in Yemen, which will be carried out over the next seven months. IOM will organize evacuations by air to Mogadishu and by sea to Berbera. For further information visit: