How long must Somalis suffer?
By Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
Somalia President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed left Nairobi for his war-torn
country, the question that remains unanswered is whether his departure
will restore peace in the country where famine, war, and all the
crimes that go along with them has existed for decades.
President Yusuf says he is confident of ending the infighting that had
delayed the move for nine months, inter-clan fighting which broke out
on Monday in the town of Beletweyne, south-central Somalia which left
at least 30 people dead and more than 70 wounded and hundreds more
displaced in the violence, in its one week now is indeed a challenge
to his government.
which broke out when militias from the Galje'el and Jajele sub-clans
clashed on the west side of the town triggered by a land dispute and
revenge killings for the deaths of two Jajele men last week and one
Galje'el man on Sunday has forced about 7,000 Somalis to flee to Kenya
The fact that
Hotels in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, gave members of Somalia's
transitional government up to Wednesday to vacate the rooms they have
occupied for almost three years, one may argue that Somalia government
did not leave Kenya on their own free will but due to condition they
were given. It has cost Kenya taxpayers’ money 1billion shillings to
host Somalia government since then.
government had been given enough money to pay their bills until next
week, when they were expected to relocate to Somalia. The government
of Kenya did not wish to continue giving more money towards that
It is due to
this fact that Kenya's ambassador to Somalia, Muhammad Abdi was forced
to issue a statement that demanded all Somali MPs and government
officials to start leaving Kenya by 14 June, adding that where to go
in Somalia is a decision for the Somali government.
Somali officials, whose accommodation was being paid for by the
international community and IGAD, were not being kicked out of Kenya,
this condition was binding them all.
the Somalia government, which includes several faction leaders, could
not relocate sooner because of security considerations. These are some
facts that prove that had it not because of come increasing pressure
from the Kenyan government and western diplomats to do so, Somalia
government would still be in Kenya to date.
by interim Somali President and Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi that
the government cannot function in Mogadishu until the city is pacified
and secured are some statements that do worry a lot for the stability
of that country.
already disagreement between former faction leaders and current
cabinet ministers such as National Security Minister Muhammad Qanyare
Afrah, Commerce Minister Muse Sudi Yalahow, Housing and Public Works
Minister Usman Hasan Ali Atto and the Religious Affairs Minister Omar
Muhammad "Finish", who hold the view that Mogadishu poses no
immediate threat to the functioning of the interim government.
Baidoa is one
of the towns to which the Nairobi-based transitional government wants
to relocate on a temporary basis until Mogadishu is secured. The
Shatigudud-Madobe alliance supports the interim government's position,
while Habsade is opposed to it.
fighting in Baidoa is another manifestation of a widening rift within
members of the transitional federal institutions.
in Baidoa is rooted in a power struggle within the senior ranks of the
RRA that resulted in a split in 2001.The town has changed hands
several times since then.
elders and religious leaders to intervene between the two sides have
been unsuccessful so far despite the promise by President Mwai Kibaki
of Kenya that logistical support for the peace keeping mission from
the African Union that will support the establishment of the
transitional government in Somali with bid to stability.
foreign peacekeepers, Yusuf fears militia rule in Somalia will prevent
ministers and their teams from carrying out their work in safety, free
from violence and extortion.
At least 100
members of the 275-strong parliament, led by Speaker Sharif Hassan
Shaykh Aden, are in Mogadishu in an attempt to stabilise the city.
They have been convincing faction leaders to disarm and encamp their
But as the
first operation to rid Mogadishu of illegal roadblocks manned by armed
militia began last Tuesday, in a move aimed at restoring security to
the war-torn city, a radio journalist who was covering a protest by
bus and truck drivers near the Somali capital, Mogadishu was killed on
manning a checkpoint on the Mogadishu-Afgoye Road, 30 km from the
capital, shot dead Duniya Muhaydin Nur, 26, on Sunday as she covered
the protest for her radio station, HornAfrik, which is based in
Mogadishu. Duniya "was killed by a single bullet fired at the
back of her taxi. She died instantly.
A very young
and dedicated journalist who had a big heart for the suffering women
and children was shot because she hosted "a very popular"
call-in radio programme titled "Mogadishu Today", covering
issues affecting minorities, women and children in Somalia.
passionate about the difficulties faced by these vulnerable groups won
her a prize in heaven where we believe she is going to pray for the
everlasting peace in Somalia.
Duniya is not
the only journalist killed on the line of work in Somalia. In February
this year, a producer with the British Broadcasting Corporation, Kate
Peyton, was shot dead outside her hotel in Mogadishu.
another HornAfrik journalist, Abdallah Nurdin Ahmad, was shot and
wounded, also in Mogadishu, when an unidentified gunman shot him three
had no effective central government since the collapse of the late
President Siad Barre's administration in 1991. Since then, faction
leaders have carved the country into rival fiefdoms, many of which are
wracked by violence.
government was set up in neighbouring Kenya in October 2004 following
peace talks, sponsored by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on
Development, between Somalia's various clans and factions.
after years as Italian and British colonies, Somalia gained its
independence in 1960. Siad Barre assumed control of the country in a
dictatorship. Aideed spent the late 1960s and early 1970s in prison
for planning a coup against Barre. Barre eventually freed Aideed and
made him ambassador to India, Sri Lanka and Singapore.
Barre's dictatorship had crumbled, and he was deposed. Aideed became a
prominent leader of the United Somali Congress (USC), one of the
rebelling factions. USC Somalian ex-patriates in Italy then proclaimed
Ali Mahdi President of the Republic of Somalia, a claim recognized by
very few inside the country.
In June 1991,
Aideed was elected chairman of the United Somali Congress by a
two-thirds vote, but Ali Mahdi refused to step down as President. By
October 1991, Ali Mahdi had formed a government of eight ministers,
and the Italian government promised massive financial support.
erupted as various clan-based military factions competed for control
after the collapse of Barre's regime.
militia forces gained the upper hand, confining Mahdi's supporters to
a portion of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. Aideed then concentrated
his efforts on violent factions in southern Somalia, which were
largely responsible for the famine in that region.
In March and
June 1993, six clans from northern and central Somalia sided with
Aideed, adopting the traditional Somali political system known as the
Xeer (pronounced "hair"). In a bloody civil war with
devastation on all sides, Aideed's faction was emerging as the center
of a coalition.
Mogadishu has become a place of unpredictable death, with no one in
authority and no one capable of enforcing a social commitment to
order. Everyone appears armed. Whoever draws first carries the day,
since there is no civil authority to punish someone who robs or kills.
human casualties since fighting began in September and then escalated
to high intensity on November 17, 1991, are based on review of daily
and weekly hospital records, which are kept with varying degrees of
reliability and regularity.
these records, the ICRC believes that approximately 30,000 people have
been wounded or killed in the last five months of fighting.
Yet the food
and medical situation in Mogadishu will worsen with the passage of
medical personnel, people are slowly becoming visibly thinner (even
Somali hospital staff who are surviving on one meal a day provided by
malnutrition among the civilian population is becoming more widespread.
There is no central electric power or water supply for the city. Most
of the water mains have been tapped.
the psychological effects on children of the current war are extremely
difficult to assess. Tens of thousands have lost a parent; many have
have been injured. None have been to school for more than a year. All
are familiar with different forms of weaponry and with their effects.
observation suggests that many children, especially boys, are behaving
in a manner that would normally indicate severe delinquency or
have joined the forces or have become looters. Occasionally, boys
under ten years of age are seen wielding automatic weapons, and it is
common to see boys of twelve years or so manning checkpoints or
serving in fighting units.