This story was recalled by a Somali refugee named Haroon*. The details described are accurate to the best of his recollection.
In 2013, a young man named Haroon attended a community forum in Dadaab refugee camp, where he learned about REFUNITE’s family tracing services.
Dadaab is located in Garissa County, approximately 100 kilometers from the Kenya-Somalia border. It is one of the largest refugee camps in the world and is home to more than 500,000 refugees from different conflict zones in East and Central Africa.
The community forums are where refugees go to learn about the different services and programs available to them, and it is also where they get the latest news and updates from the agencies that support them.
Haroon and his family come from Kismayo, a port city in the southern Lower Juba province of Somalia. During the family’s escape from renewed insurgent fighting in Somalia in 2007, they lost contact with their brother Jama*. Haroon, his mother and 4 younger siblings had been living in Dadaab for 5 years, when they learned of REFUNITE’s family reconnection service.
For 5 years, they did not know where Jama was or whether he survived the war. Although they didn’t know his fate, they remained hopeful that he might still be alive and that they would one day be reconnected with each other. At the forum, a REFUNITE outreach volunteer informed Haroon of the family tracing platform and helped him register his missing person. Haroon shared some of the fond memories of reading and swimming in the Indian Ocean with his younger brothers. He also shared his worry and longing to find his brother Jama.
Two years later, Haroon could not believe his luck; he had just received an SMS notification from REFUNITE’s platform stating that there was a possible match on the details provided for Haroon’s missing person (name, age etc.). After a few verification messages and a call, Haroon was able to confirm that he had successfully connected with his brother Jama who was living in Ethiopia. The family in Dadaab was ecstatic and relieved by the news.
Although they haven’t yet been physically reconnected, the family is happy that they have finally found their beloved brother and son who they feared they might never see or hear from again. They now talk often and look forward to reconnecting with each other in the near future.
By Kalson Abdi
ABOUT THE INTERVIEW
The above interview took place on April 27, 2015 in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya. It was conducted in Somali and translated by Noor Osman, a REFUNITE Outreach Volunteer.
* All the names have been changed to protect the identity of the individual.
Kalson Abdi, Campaign and Partnership Specialist, REFUNITE (firstname.lastname@example.org)