Voices on the Move

Ethiopian cafe, Hargesia. Photo: Pooja Bhalla
August 14, 2012 Written by: Pooja Bhalla

“I ask you where do I go that they will want me?”

 Johanes Belay fled to Hargesia in 2008 where he has been living with the Ethiopian migrant community ever since, illegally. He is a 28 year old single male Ethiopian national of Amhara ethnicity and was a second year IT student at university in Addis Ababa when he fled.

“I fled because there were some student demonstration in Addis. The police then started to arrest students and put them in jail. They did release some students after a few days...they questioned and cleared them. Many of the students were people I knew, they did not demonstrate but were still arrested and kept in jail. I heard that they were beaten and not questioned. I fled because I thought that they would arrest me. It was a hard thing, I really wanted to finish my studies.

There were people who knew the route to come here. All the time people are leaving that bad government and coming here. I arranged and came with them. They were just others leaving Ethiopia. Many of them, the men, they come to Hargesia to hide. Then the sneak back to see their families, give them money and then run back here. They know the hidden routes well.  Sometimes we walked sometimes we found people who gave us a ride but we had to pay for that. Some of our group who did not have money could not take this ride. Once or twice I was robbed and beaten…I think they were Somali people but it was night and dark.

I am not a refugee here as I was told by Ethiopian people in Hargesia that the government did not want us here so I lived quietly. I work here at this coffee shop, the people who own it are Ethiopian, we look after each other. But now I hear that we can register so I will go. I am tired of being unwanted first in Ethiopia and now here.  I ask you where do I go that they will want me?

I was studying IT, working everyday with computers now I wash cups and pick up people’s rubbish but I have to survive…I still dream of finishing my studies on day, marrying and having a family...I am still young.”

Contact Us

Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat
DRC East Africa & Great Lakes
Lower Kabete Road
(Ngecha Road Junction)
P.O.Box 14762, 00800
Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 709867 000


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