Woyanne’s Crime: A Somali girl’s childhood ends in shelling, burns and terrible scars – Source: UNHCR

February 21st, 2008 Print Print Email Email

TEFERIBER REFUGEE CAMP, Ethiopia – Hamda Mohamed Yusuf somehow survived the artillery blast and the burns over most of her face and body. But the 13-year-old Somali refugee, disfigured by inadequate medical treatment in an ill-equipped Mogadishu hospital and facing a lifetime of pain, often wonders if she wants to continue living. (more…)

TEFERIBER REFUGEE CAMP, Ethiopia – Hamda Mohamed Yusuf somehow survived the artillery blast and the burns over most of her face and body. But the 13-year-old Somali refugee, disfigured by inadequate medical treatment in an ill-equipped Mogadishu hospital and facing a lifetime of pain, often wonders if she wants to continue living.

“What happened in May 2006 scarred my whole body and devastated my future,” she told UNHCR visitors to Teferiber Refugee Camp in north-eastern Ethiopia, where she fled with her family. “I was burned in a terrible fire, so terrible that my survival was seen by my family as little short of a miracle.”

Hamda remembers a carefree childhood spent with close friends. “I have had very happy days playing with friends and laughing all day.” With the chronic violence of Somalia – marked by widespread rape and murder – none of them attended school. But she could not escape the violence.

“My mother told me that an artillery shell was fired at our home in [the Somali capital] Mogadishu when we were all sleeping,” she recalled, adding that the ensuing blaze gutted the house, killed her eldest sister Sahra and left Hamda somewhere between life and death.

“I was covered in burns and blood and was rushed to the Madina Hospital in Mogadishu, where I was in a coma for a few months and somehow recovered,” Hamda said. “But, Madina is a poorly equipped hospital with a very limited capacity and the staff could not do much more than save my life and dress my burns.”

The burns, and the limited medical care, left her with permanent, though avoidable, deformities: her lower lip stuck to her cheek, the skin on her arms fused to her upper body and her chest covered in keloid scarring.

She didn’t even get a chance to continue recovering at home. In December 2006, when fresh fighting erupted between the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the Union of Islamic Courts she fled with her mother and eight sisters and brothers to Ethiopia.

“You can imagine how hard it was for me to travel all the way from Mogadishu … nursing my severely painful sores,” she said. “The pain persists and it itches so much. When I scratch it, it bleeds and another cycle of pain and itching starts. I have also developed a cardiac problem. I cannot stretch my hands. My breasts are developing with great difficulty; and as they develop, they push my chest forward which forces my burn-covered skin to crack and bleed. “

Not surprisingly, the trauma of the attack itself and the resulting deformities caused her to increasingly avoid family and friends. Hamda is hoping that some international humanitarian organization will help her to escape the lifelong pain and isolation she faces.

“Many times over, the idea of ending the pain and my life crosses my mind,” she said. “But I haven’t done that so far, for good or bad. Please do something about my burns or it will not be long before I give in to my persistent urge to commit suicide.”

By Kisut Gebre Egziabher
in Teferiber Refugee Camp, Ethiopia

  1. mere
    | #1

    Meles and his Bandits against this crime.

  2. Birhanu
    | #2

    It’s Very stupid of Abugida for posting such news. We all know all wars have civilian causalities. By causality it means that some die, some become handicapped. It’s a very sad story but its story of a war. One thing we don’t like about the current Ethiopian government, when it comes to the Somalia issue, is the fact that it creates hatred by Somalia Citizens towards Ethiopia. The government made our neighbor to be our enemy. That’s the side effect of the war. Some of us are not so upset about the mission if it wasn’t for its side effects. Many Somalians, not all, support the war if it’s not for the side effects. Now Abugida is doing an equal damage to Ethiopia as the war. That is every Somalian who reads this news post will have more hatred towards Ethiopia. They don’t care if it’s EPRDF or others who’re orchestrating the war. We’re all Ethiopians in their eyes and we all are!!

    Have you ever seen a USA media outlet posting wounded and burnt bodies of Iraqis at all? More than 85,000 Iraqis have died in the Iraqi invasion since 2001. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are wounded and burnt. Even then, no single American news agency has ever posted such news. It’s not because they’re not against the Bush administration and the war. We all know how many Americans are against Bush’s administration and the war. But have we seen a single American media reporting such news that can create hatred towards Americans? No they don’t! They’re more ETHICAL than that as a media outlet; they do things in the national interest of their country. Why does Abugida have to do something that’s going to hurt our country? Should their hatred towards EPRDF make media outlets be ignorant of the collateral damage they cause on Ethiopia in their effort to attack EPRDF?!! I don’t expect that from a genuine Ethiopian!!!

  3. Birhanu
    | #3

    It’s Very stupid of Abugida for posting such news. We all know that all wars have civilian causalities. Some die, some become handicapped. It’s a very sad story but its story of a war. One thing we don’t like about the current government, when it comes to the Somalia issue, is it creates hatred toward Ethiopia by Somalians. It made us neighbor enemies. That’s the side effect of the war. Some of us are not so upset about the mission if it wasn’t for its side effects. Many Somalians, support the invasion if it’s not for the side effects. Abugida is doing similar damage to Ethiopia as the invasion; every Somalian who reads this news will have more hatred towards Ethiopia. They don’t care if it’s EPRDF or others who’re orchestrating the war. We’re all Ethiopians to them and we all

    Have you ever seen a USA media outlet posting wounded and burnt bodies of Iraqis at all? More than 85,000 Iraqis have died in the Iraqi invasion since 2001. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are wounded and burnt. Even then, no single American news agency has ever posted such news. It’s not because they’re not against the Bush administration and the war. We all know how many Americans are against Bush’s administration and the war. But have we seen a single American media reporting such news that can create hatred towards Americans? No they don’t! They’re more ETHICAL than that as a media outlet; they do things in the national interest of their country. Why does Abugida have to do something that’s going to hurt our country? Should their hatred towards EPRDF make media outlets be ignorant of the collateral damage they cause on Ethiopia in their effort to attack EPRDF?!! I don’t expect that from a genuine Ethiopian!!!

  4. Amy
    | #4

    I am Canadian and I really do hope someone can help her. 2nd degree burns are probably the most painful injury. I’d rather crush my femurs than go through what this child has.

    Here in Canada we refuse to post pictures of those that died as well. Although one thing good can come out of it; When people see those bodies, maybe it will be enough for people to start realizing that this is not necessary. Unfortunately I do not think that is ever going to happen.

    I have the opportunity to go to Ethiopia this year and I am very excited to see this beautiful country. I was also hoping to see Somalia and some other countries. During my research, I was astounded that over half the continent of Africa is involved in some sort of war with another neighbouring country.

    To the war has casualties statement. If you can relieve just one persons pain and return their life to them, then it is all worth it. We can’t change the world but we can be someone else’s world.

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