Saleban Mohamed Nour: We had nothing, yet we kept relying on each other

Growing up in Mogadishu, I acquired a number of skills in different areas such as car washing and painting. These skills became so important when I got to Yemen. For the 20 years that I lived there, I switched jobs, depending on what paid best. In certain instances, I even worked as a watchman. I did any job that enabled me to provide for my wife and our six children. My eldest child is 11 years old, and my youngest is one year old.

When the war broke out, everything changed. In addition to worrying about the insecurity, it became increasingly difficult for me to take care of my family.

In my last job, I worked as a watchman. I relied on my boss for money that he did not have. He also relied on his boss for money his boss did not have. We had nothing, yet we kept relying on each other. Over time, I accumulated a lot of debt. At one point in time, I told my boss that I desperately needed money because I had not paid rent in two months. He told me that he had also not paid his rent for the last three months. At that point, I owed a lot of money to so many people. Some of them were so kind to me because they saw how I was suffering, so they decided to cancel my debt.

One day, my boss made a proposal. He said that it was clear from his financial situation that he would not be in a position to pay me any money in the near future. Therefore, he suggested that in exchange for my services as a watchman, he wanted me and my family to move into his house, so that we would not have to accumulate more debt in the form of house rental fees.  

At this point, it became clear to me that I could no longer stay in Yemen. I was no longer able to take care of my family in a foreign land. That was when I made the decision to come back home.

We heard from friends that there was a ship that had been hired to help Somalis return home. What was so surprising was that they were not charging for the boat ride. I immediately signed my family up for the trip. Two months later, we were on the boat, heading to Somalia.

We are in Berbera at the moment, and we plan to travel to Mogadishu over the next few days. We shall re-establish our lives alongside my relatives in Mogadishu.

Saleban Mohamed Nour 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 arranged 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 7 months. IOM will organize evacuations by air to Mogadishu and by sea to Berbera. For further information visit: