Displaced for decades, Somali families finally find a home

More than 5,000 families in Galkayo, Somalia have received land and shelter after living in displacement for decades

Khalimey Hassan Mohamed stands inside her small shop in Salama 2 settlement in Galkayo, Somalia.
© UNHCR/Caroline Opile

Khalimey Hassan busies herself in her small shop in Salama 2, in Galkayo, Somalia. The 53-year-old mother of six looks over at her daughter Muhubo, 13, as she helps out around the shop.

“I moved here from another camp because I needed a permanent home for my family,” says Khalimey.

Salama 2 is a settlement for internally displaced people in Puntland State in Somalia. Khalimey and her family are among 1,500 people that have been settled here within the larger Salama IDP settlement.  It is estimated there are more than 122,000 people displaced in Galkayo.

Khalimey, who supplements her income from the shop by selling snacks, adds that without support from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, she would have been unable to care for her family.

“We are grateful for the support we have received through education, shelter and security because the quality of life has improved,”

“We are grateful for the support we have received through education, shelter and security because the quality of life has improved,” she explains.

With her income, she is able to take care of her 70-year-old husband and four children, currently in primary school. Two of her children are already married.

Families living in Salama have access to amenities like schools, water points, health centres and a community market. While families pay US $60 cents for a 20 litre jerry can of water and US $1 per month for school fees, health services are free. More importantly, each family is issued with a title deed to a standard one-roomed house that sits on 100 square metres of land with a latrine.

Somalia: Shelter

A group of children wait at a water point in Salama settlement where residents get water for domestic use.   © UNHCR/Caroline Opile

Khalimey’s daughter Muhubo is in primary 7 at Salama primary school. Although her elder sisters did not continue with secondary school and got married, she is determined to stay in school.

“I want to continue with my education and be an English teacher,” she says.

Another family, of 65-year-old community elder Abdirashid Salaah Daud is living in the settlement. Abdirashid’s four children go to school in the settlement.  Unlike Khalimey who has a retail shop, Abdirashid depends on income from his six children who have small businesses in Galkayo town. 

“If the government continues to support us like this, we will have good jobs.”

“We want to be elected in the local councils and be part of decision making,” he says. “If the government continues to support us like this, we will have good jobs.”

Somalia: Shelter

A UNHCR staffer visits community elder Abdirashid Salaah Daud and his wife Zeinab, who live in Salama settlement in Galkayo, Somalia.  © UNHCR/Caroline Opile

UNHCR facilitated the acquisition of the land in Mudug, where Salama 2 is situated and the regional government issued title deeds for the land. 

“The support we received from the Mudug administration has really helped us improve the displaced people’s access to basic services, housing, land and jobs,” says Caroline Van Buren, UNHCR's Representative in Somalia.

Hassan Khalif, the Governor of Mudug acknowledges that the regional government’s capacity to provide additional support to the 44,000 displaced people spread out across 38 IDP camps in the region is limited.

“Despite our limited resources, we continue to provide security, create awareness on civic and human rights, coordinate resource mobilisation and provide land for displaced families,” he explains.

Majority of the displaced are from South Central and South Somalia, displaced by insecurity, while those from Puntland were displaced by drought.

UNHCR’s van Buren notes that local administrations in the Federal Member States of Somalia are key in providing lasting durable solutions for the displaced. 

“Salama settlement is one of our model integrated settlements in Galkayo that is self-sustaining and can be replicated in any of the states in Somalia,” she explains, adding that the cost sharing system has helped reduce the cost of maintaining the settlement.

Somalia: Shelter

A section of houses in Salama settlement where the regional government has donated land for displaced families to settle.   © UNHCR/Caroline Opile

As the government provided land, UNHCR worked jointly with other agencies to provide shelter and other amenities to benefit both the displaced families and their hosting communities.

“The beneficiaries pay really minimal costs for maintenance of the facilities as we handle the bulk of the costs,” she adds.

UNHCR has also installed solar lights in public areas and put in place protection and safety interventions targeting women and other vulnerable groups. A solar-powered borehole serves the entire Salama settlement, including the host community living in the area, helping families engage in small scale agriculture.  Operating through a cost sharing system registered under the Puntland water agency, the borehole is self-sustaining.

As UNHCR and other agencies continue helping families like Khalimey’s and Abdirashid’s to acquire permanent land and integrate in Galkayo, the government is continuing to identify land for settling more displaced families.

“Additional land has been donated by the regional government to settled 10,000 displaced people,” says Governor Khalif. “We are appealing for support to develop the infrastructure for these settlements.”