Somali journalist Ahmedsadik Yusuf moved to Uganda in 2008 to receive medical treatment following an attack. After years of receiving death threats, his enemies finally came to blows with him that day in 2007, when they stopped his car and tortured him as he was driving to Mogadishu.
Yusuf has been living in Kampala as a refugee ever since, longing for a safe return to his homeland.
‘Being a refugee doesn’t mean I’m not alive.’
“It is not an easy life to be a refugee, it needs tolerance. I am really depressed because I miss my country, my family and my dignity. I have nowhere to work, no food to eat, no health services and no hope to return to my home country.
In Uganda, there are more than 20 Somali journalists including me who fled their homeland after being threatened. We don’t have jobs now, some of us are living in Nakavali refugee camp.
‘Resettlement is nearly impossible’
Only two out of 20 journalists received refugee status in Australia. Some cases were rejected for resettlement and unfortunately, Somali refugee journalists do not receive necessary protection from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The attacks on media houses, and killings of journalists are now common in Somalia. So far six journalists were murdered deliberately in Somalia since the beginning of 2012.
I have lost some of my friends working on the ground like Abdisalan Sheikh Hassan known as “Hiis” from Horn Cable TV, Hassan Osman “Fantastic”, director of Radio Shabelle, Abukar Hassan, former director of Radio Somaliweyn, reporter Ali Abdi Ahmed from Radio Galka’yo reporter, Mahad Salad, another radio journalist from Shabelle in Hiran province and Farhan James Abdulle, radio reporter at Daljir, were killed within six months. It is a clear attempt to silence free press in Somalia.
‘I still want to go back to my country’
I‘m often struck when I remember my fellow journalists who were killed in Somalia, particularly the death of the son of Bashir Diriye Naleye, who is one of Somali exiled refugee journalists living in Kampala.
Bashir’s son was a student at Mogadishu University and was recently killed by unknown militias.
Before they killed his son, they asked when his father would return to Mogadishu. “I don’t know” he replied.
I went to Bashir’s residence in order to share the sorrowful death of his son, and I saw Bashir nodding and tearing up in front of his house. After a few minutes, tears streamed out of my eyes and I cried with him.
I’m sending my condolences to the families of countless journalists killed in Somalia – may Allah grant them paradise – and I applaud the brave Somali journalists for their sacrifice, despite the insecurity and risks involved working in Somalia.
More than 40 journalists have been killed since the outbreak of the Somali civil war in 1991.
My country is among the world's deadliest countries for journalists and there is lack of a powerful central government to crack down on the killings of the journalists. But one day I will go back to my country to continue working as a reporter and push for protection of journalists and freedom of expression.”
Yusuf was the director of Hiran journalists club, a local organisation fighting for journalist and human rights based in Beledweyne, a town in central Somalia. He also cofounded of National Union of Somali Journalists.