Return to Somalia

Ali worried that his young children would never meet their grandma or see the ocean. Now, after five years in exile, they are going home to Kismayo.

Ali and his son visit the beach near Kismayo, Somalia.
© UNHCR/Tiger Nest Films

Ali and his family fled famine and war in Somalia five years ago. They sought refuge in Kenya's Dadaab camp, home to more than 300,000 Somali refugees. The family settled in, believing they'd never go home.

But today, after more than two decades of conflict, Somalia is slowly rebuilding. Ali has decided that he and his family will make the journey home, joining some 5,300 others who have returned in the last year.

Return to Somalia

The family heads back to Kismayo, the coastal city where Ali is from. The children meet many of their extended relatives, including their grandmother, for the first time. Ali is able to show his son the ocean, something he feared he would never get to do as refugees living in landlocked Dadaab.

The road ahead for the family will not be easy. After so many years of strife, job opportunities in Somalia remain a challenge. But for Ali, being able to raise his children in their home country is worth the struggle.

"I am happy because I am finally home," he says. "Whether we are hungry or full, at least we know we are free."