Mohamed Haybe Hassan is worried about his five children who were forced to drop out of Ugas Yasin School in Bosaso when support for their tuition ended. Four of the children were set to join secondary school.
The school serves 3,000 students from Somali Ethiopian families living in Washinton camp in Bosaso. It was supported by the UNHCR, who this year ended their financial support to tuition fees for refugee children, after a period of gradual aid cuts.
“There were setbacks to the education last year. At first we lost some services, such as the school bus the children used to get. After some time, the uniforms we got for the children became irregular, and sometimes there were no books,” Mohamed said.
Mohamed and his family joined Washinton camp in Bosaso in 2019 after returning from Yemen, where they had lived as refugees since 2005 when they fled insecurity in Somali Region of Ethiopia.
According to Mohamed, Puntland’s interior ministry has informed the roughly 5,000 Somali Ethiopian families in Bosaso that they plan to recognise them as displaced instead of as refugees, in order to help them to access better services and rights.
“There has not been a solution yet. Some people from the UN came some time ago and told us they would look into the education. But until now we don’t have any official commitment,” said Mohamed, who is anxious to know about his children’s future.
Mohamed was a pastoralist before his displacement but since coming to Bosaso he has been doing whatever odd jobs he can find to support his family. His income is little and irregular.
Abdi Mohamed Haji also lives in Washinton camp. His children were in Imamu-Shafi primary and secondary school, where he was paying fees until he recently contracted diabetes and had to stop work. He was hoping to access the tuition support from UNHCR.
“I have four children in school. The youngest is in grade six, the other is in grade seven, and the other two are in secondary school. We were informed that there is no longer education support,” he explained.
This father of nine said the aid from UNHCR had been diminishing between 2021-2022 and these new cuts would have a huge impact on their lives. They tried to speak to the Puntland authorities without response.
Normal tuition fees in local schools are $15 for primary students and $25 for secondary.
“How can I pay when our life is now that we get something one day and are deprived the next? Where can I get education for them? We can’t support their education and we need help to support their education,” he said.
Abdi Mohamed was also a pastoralist in Aado district in southern Ethiopia’s Qorahey zone, but they were forced to flee their homes in 2007 following conflict and went to Yemen.
He and his family came to Bosaso in January 2009, where they have been living under refugee status.
The director for IDPs and Refugees at Puntland’s interior affairs ministry, Mohamed Ali Mohamed, told Radio Ergo that they wanted to help integrate these families into local society by building houses for them and providing free education.
“There have been different factors. The United Nations agencies that supported us stopped their support. We also saw that these Somali families have been living in Puntland for a very long time and they are interacting with the locals,” Mohamed said.
He added that there is little chance of the UNHCR tuition aid being resumed in schools but the authority is looking for alternative solutions for the children to continue their education.