Copyright on imagesAFP

LegendMemorial to the victims of the air raid on Hargeisa in 1988

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Mohamed, who used to run the Hartisheik refugee camp in Ethiopia.

Kate Stanworth.

I saw an elderly Ethiopian, Mohamed, who, as it turned out, had once worked as a camp guard, a place he remembered because it was filled with the pain of war.

Ismail Einashe Journalist

 

Then I noticed an elderly Ethiopian, Mohamed, who, as it turned out, had once worked as a camp guard, a place he remembered because it was filled with the pain of war.

He now lives with his family in a bull pen, in a small traditional house, and they have the cows, goats and farms they can.

He told me that some buildings in the camp were still standing, including a possible hospital, which a woman named Sahra and her young granddaughter showed me.

Copyright of the imageKate Stanworth

LegendThis former storage building is now used as a goat farm.

Apparently painted in UN colours (blue and white), it stank of rot and goat shit, as the animals belonged to the Sahra family, who once lived in Wajala on the Somali side of the border and now breed here.

I’ve been thinking about all the people who must have lost loved ones in this building.

Of course, many of the young people I met when I was a young rancher in Jimale had no memory of refugees.

Copyright of the imageKate Stanworth

Photo captionThe nomads now roam the vast plains of the camp, which was closed down by the UN in 2004.

I also met a group of Somali speaking nomads who followed their camels in search of fresh grass and water and offered me, a weary traveller from London, fresh and spicy camel milk.

When the sky turned orange, I decided to return to the city of Hartisheik before sunset – a second time to leave the camp, this time a man, but a changed man, slightly dizzy and confused by the tricks of memory.

It brought back another memory: When I was five years old, I found a small jar of Vicks ointment thrown at the camp and rubbed it naïvely in my face.

The inevitable ended with him in my eyes, and a fountain of tears ran down my face as I ran blindly and confusedly through the camp looking for my mother.

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