As the darkness fades, two flags unfurl in the wind. To the left is Somaliland, to the right Ethiopia. In the centre, bisected by the border, is a small village.
The village is encircled by minefields.
Abdifah, age seven, pushes a wheelbarrow loaded with water collected from the nearby berkhad (waterhole). He lives with his family on the Somaliland side of the village. Livestock is the principle source of income for the villagers. Camels and goats are kept for milk or traded at Hargeisa market.
Haybe Muhumed Diiriye is the Somaliland village chief. He explains how the landmines were laid during the civil war, decades before Abdifah was even born.
“Most of the landmines were laid in 1983-4. They were everywhere, under every tree. When people returned after the war, there were many accidents. People lost their limbs or were blinded, some died. There was not a day without a livestock explosion.”
Clearing landmines is the first step towards creating a safe future for children like Abdifah and their families. Until land is safe, lives are put at risk, new homes cannot be built and grazing land is cut off. Every animal lost to the minefield is a huge blow for families already struggling to survive.
HALO has begun work on the Somaliland side of the village and families are already making plans for the future. Haybe Muhumed Diiriye proudly describes the area where new houses will be built for the growing population. But on the Ethiopian side, where Abdifah crosses to go to school each day, Head of Security Nuur Musa Elmi explains how the threat of the landmines remains.
“We are surrounded by landmines right now. There is a line of mines just 10 steps from the school. It passes round the corner of the school and the maternal and child health centre.”
If the landmines were gone, life would be transformed. This Christmas, donate to HALO and ensure all children have a safe future to believe in.
Nuur Musa Elmi, Head of Security for the Ethiopian side of the village