MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) Chatting women sitting outside makeshift homes at night is a new scene in a once-dark refugee camp in the Somali capital. In a city where darkness brings the threat of attack, recently installed solar lights are helping to ward off sexual assault.

Women living in Mogadishu’s hundreds of refugee camps often stay and don’t use communal bathrooms at home at night because of the threat men armed with knives and guns pose to them. With the installation of 79 solar-powered lights by the Danish Refugee Council in a camp known as Zone K, life has returned to Mogadishu’s nights.

“It feels like we are starting a new life,” Sadiya Hussein, a mother of four, said while resting with other women on a sandy spot near their homes, which are made out of sheet metal or sticks and cloth. “Because of the lights we can come together to chat and get some fresh air. No rapist can sneak in now. It’s fully lit and better.”

Since a devastating famine struck Somalia in 2011, refugee camps in Mogadishu have held tens of thousands of people fleeing both hunger and violence. The number of rapes rose sharply, making the simple act of going to the bathroom a life-risking activity.

“They simply came and waited for women between their house and bathrooms,” said Fatima Nor, who said she was once attacked but escaped when her husband intervened. “We really feel a little bit safer than before. I think having light scares the predators.”

Mohamed Bundu, the Mogadishu director for the Danish Refugee Council, said that in addition to the extra security the May installation of the lights brought, they are also helping children study and businesses attract customers.

“All the criminal acts that were often committed because of the darkness have considerably gone down,” he said.

The 79 lights erected on tall poles in the Mogadishu camp cost about $2,000 each.

Heather Amstutz, the regional director for the Danish Refugee Council, said the group has also installed solar lights in northern Somalia. The projects ask for buy-in from the communities they serve, which reduces the threat of vandalism or theft. The projects are paid for by U.N. funds.

The lights “add five productive hours to these small settlements. Kids can study by the light, the vendors are selling their vegetables by the lights,” she said.

A U.N. monitoring group report on Somalia published last month said there are 530 camps in Mogadishu housing internally displaced people, 75 percent of whom are women and children who are particularly vulnerable to sexual attacks. The report said officials recorded 1,700 reported rapes between January and November 2012.

The report said there were probably more attacks that weren’t reported and that the number of reported rapes was higher than previous years.

Attackers frequently wear government police or military uniforms, though the government has consistently denied its forces are responsible.

Despite the positive impact of the solar lights, one past sexual violence victims says she still doesn’t feel safe.

“I see that the lights are helpful but they cannot, sadly, prevent the rapists from coming,” the veiled 30-year old woman said while standing at the door of her home. “We are still exposed to the rape attacks because no one protects us.”

Salad Ahmed, a 40-year old father of six, feels the lights are beneficial. Most camp residents can’t fight back against attackers who wield guns or knives during attacks. Ahmed, though, has an axe and sword to protect his wife.

“The more you can see your enemy the more you can plan how you should engage him,” he said.

Source: AP


  1. Are these unfortunate women in camps belong to minority clans? I doubt H@bar Gidir or Abg@l women are in refugee camps in and around Xamar and subjected to this awful crime.

  2. Hawiya men are some hor/ny pricks motherf@@kers they would rape anyone they will even rape a monkey.

    All the women in the camp must be armed.

    • Hawyias are decent people unlike you darod queers where each men have intercourse with another a man.
      Hawyias are original Somalis unlike you darods you darod monkies, hawyia men don't rape or abuse them by anyway but isaqs and darod men rape women insight.

        • hey man don't insult tribes if you are hawiya why are representing darods. DOn't call Somali men rapists or abusers people will call you a daqan clis that's the real daqan clis not the one's who live in the diaspora, the ones who insult their own people.

          • I haven't insulted or attacked any tribes kk I'm jus laying down the facts that Hawiya are wild baboons who have destroyed Somalia. Hawiya brought al qaeda from the bushes of Afghanistan Pakistan and Iraq into Somalia. Hawiye are culturally violent and ignorant clan they don't know any peace, they destroyed the once beautiful Mogadishu.

            As long as Hawiya are in Somalia there will never be peace Hawiya should all be deported to Zimbabwe.

            Ps I am half Hawiya half Darood and my wife is Isaaq. I have been living in hargeisa since 2007 with me wife and three kids but I recently came back to London to look for jobs but it doesn't seems like I will get one well for a start I refused to obey the British white trash law aka Slavery Act because I am not a !!door who will bend over his ass sideways for his English white trash master nah mate I am a man with dignity and honor.

          • You are a liar, you have said you haven't insulted any tribes yes you did and you are grown man who is lying and insulting shame on you. Hawyias haven't destroyed Somalia they built Somalia and the Mogadishu re construction is hawyias who are returning from the diaspora to build their countries and now we have isaq and darods who are going their to destroy Somalia by blowing themselves up and shooting people there. Hawiyas is the best tribe ever they haven't destroyed Somalia it was darods who destroyed and I have evidence for that, Darods pay Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to destabilize Somalia and they have created al shabab, hawiys don't want a war it's the darods and isaqs who wants trouble.

        • why would I calm down for telling the truth, that' s problem with Somali if someone speaks the truth they are told to calm or called insane.

  3. It seems Mogadishu men are more sexually frustrated than the rest of Somalis in other cities or it is kinda like a sub cukture of their own.

    • Elias Donkey Mogadishu men are twice the men you will ever be. Well there are rapes in Hargeisa and the men of Hargeisa are sexually frustrated as well.