Safia Benaouda, 17, travelled to Dubai last December with her husband. There they met a man from Stockholm with whom they travelled to Somalia. When the war started in January they tried to return to Sweden, travelling in convoy towards Kenya, where Sweden has an embassy.
“I was scared. All you could think about was escaping,” she told Svenska Dagbladet.
Benaouda was separated from her husband in the coastal town Kismayo. She ended up in a car with other foreign women and was arrested in the desert. The soldiers shot one woman in the party and arrested the other women and children.
Benaouda says that the three men who arrested her were white and wearing American uniforms. They were leading a patrol of Kenyan soldiers. The women were first taken to Nairobi. They were then taken back to war-torn Somalia, guarded by Kenyan troops.
From Somalia she was taken on to Ethiopia, where she was put in a secret jail. She found her husband in the same jail. He had been arrested by Kenyan soldiers together with other foreigners. In February they were taken to a prison in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.
Benaouda has criticized Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt for his inaction over the Swedes in East African jails.
“I wish that Carl Bildt would show that he even cares,” she told Svenska Dagbladet.