Somali families torn apart by war unite in Tri-Cities

PASCO -- Four tall women in flowing robes filed out of the security area Thursday at the Tri-Cities Airport. One of them clutched a boy's hand.

Their flight from Denver finally had landed after being delayed an hour by a hailstorm.

They surged toward a man and woman -- reuniting a family after more than five years.

Safia Jama and Bashir Gulet are refugees from Somalia who now live in Kennewick. Their children were torn from them in early 2006 by the civil war crippling their native country.

On Thursday, after years of struggling -- first through deserts, then through red tape -- a mother finally could sink into her daughters' arms and a father could hug his son.

Everyone in the family has survived incredible hardships.

Jama returned to her house in Mogadishu, Somalia, one day about five years ago to find her husband and children gone, pushed out of their neighborhood by warring factions.

Without any clues to where they had gone, Jama fled her country on foot, landing first in neighboring Ethiopia, then in the small island nation of Malta.

She met Gulet in the refugee camp there.

He had left behind a son with his first wife in Somalia and drifted through North Africa with his second wife and two children, looking for a future.

His wife and children finally took a boat to Malta but Gulet had to stay behind to save more money for his passage. The boat sank, killing his family.

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