News / Africa

    Soldiers in Somalia Present Problems for Families in Kenya

    Suban Abdi, who claims one of her sons was recruited into mercenary forces trained by the Kenyan army, sits in a refugee camp, in Dadaab, eastern Kenya. (file photo)
    Suban Abdi, who claims one of her sons was recruited into mercenary forces trained by the Kenyan army, sits in a refugee camp, in Dadaab, eastern Kenya. (file photo)

    Dozens of ethnic Somali families in northeastern Kenya are increasingly worried for their sons in the Kenyan Defense Forces, who are battling the Islamist militant group al-Shabab in southern Somalia. While the soldiers are away, their families are left without the care of their sons and husbands, and are now dependent on family friends and relatives for support.

    The Kenyan military has raised the number of its soldiers killed in Somalia to 15. Among them is Yusuf Koriyo. Koriyo was killed on December 22, 2011 at Gerinle village, which borders Kenya.

    Family in need

    Fatuma Aden received the news that her husband was killed by a single bullet that hit his chin when his military convoy came under attack from al-Shabab. That day Koriyo was the only soldier killed in the attack.

    Fatuma is now left with the burden of raising her 11-month-old girl. She said the last time she received any assistance from the government was in December.

    She says when her husband died, soldiers sent her some money.  But she says December was the last month the family received money and that was Yusuf's salary for that month.

    This is where Kulmiye Koriyo, a brother-in-law, comes in. He has been providing assistance to Fatuma and her daughter with basic needs.

    “We normally offer anything she needs," said Koriyo. "She has a small kid, she don’t take food. She needs milk and clean water; we have to provide them. It is a must because since I am his cousin's brother, any assistance they require from my side I have to give them.”

    Soldiers in Somalia Present Problems for Families in Kenya
    Soldiers in Somalia Present Problems for Families in Kenya

    In October last year, Kenya's defense force launched a military campaign intended to destroy al-Shabab after a wave of kidnappings on Kenyan territory. Al-Shabab has denied responsibility for the kidnappings.

    Worrying for sons

    The death of Yusuf Koriyo has left many families in Garissa worried about their sons on the frontline. Mohamed, who prefers to give just his first name, is from one such family. He has a brother serving in the military, stationed on the road between Tabta and Qoqani Somalia's Lower Juba region.

    He says as a young man growing up in northeastern Kenya he wanted to join the military but his perception has changed since the death of Yusuf Koriyo and how Koriyo's family has been treated by the Kenyan government.

    “My perception has changed," he said. "Before, each and every youth, it was a career most of us wanted to join:  the military to defend the country.  But so far you can imagine [the] military is only thinking about you when you are present in your country. Their interest is when you are working. Once you die they completely forgot about you.”

    Kulmiye Koriyo agrees there is nothing to be proud of in being a Kenyan soldier after how his brother-in-law's family was treated. 

    “My sister-in-law, she was not happy at all," added Koriyo. "If someone passes like a month ago and the salary ends like that its inhuman, unfair. I suggest it’s not good being a [in the] military since this is what they do if somebody passes away. That is the end of his life and his family. It not a good job.”

    Discouraging treatment

    Koriyo warns such treatment will discourage other families, and make them urge their sons to resign from their duties.  

    Mohamed says his mother is disturbed to see her son on the battlefield and hopes she has the power to get her son back.

    “Our life has completely changed," he said. "He was the sole bread winner of our family.  We have not communicated to him for the last two months. We don’t know if he is alive or wounded or they are hiding [something] from us. We don’t have access to him in terms of information, communication and even the care of his family and we are really scrambling here and there. We [are] trying. Our best well-wishers are also helping us. You can imagine one morning you wake up and have nothing.”

    As the battle rages on inside Somalia, Kenyan forces have taken control of several towns in the last two weeks. The families hope their sons and husband come home alive, and that the government will look for ways to address their problems.

    You May Like

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora