FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Somali Diaspora Network (SDN)
Phone: (703) 888-5409
Fax: (703) 891-9120
Email: [email protected]
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Fairfax, VA (SDN) - In recent weeks, the Ethiopian military and militias loyal to the Transitional Federal Government have launched a ruthless campaign of systematic killings, detentions, and utter destruction of the economic lifeline of Mogadishu's Bakaara Business District thus impacting the livelihood of many innocent Somalis. This new violence has not spared the innocent and only aggravated the situation.
The TFG militia and Ethiopian forces have placed roadblocks throughout the city, bringing back memories of the warlord-operated roadblocks of the past where motorists were routinely robbed or forced to pay exorbitant bribes.
According to Shabelle Media Network, on Sunday, July 29, 2007, 40 trucks transporting passengers and essential goods have refused to enter Mogadishu due to the demand of extortion by TFG militias.
Furthermore, according to U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, 10,000 people have fled Mogadishu within a single week of violence. “Even those who had returned to Mogadishu recently are heading out again, fearing for their safety” added the Commissioner. This added to a several hundred of thousands mostly women and children who were displaced since the Ethiopian occupation and the subsequent Mogadishu massacre a couple of months earlier.
In a heart-wrenching report on August 1, 2007, by Edmund Sanders of Los Angeles Times, Dr. Hawa Abdi, a gynecologist who runs a clinic for women and children outside Mogadishu, discloses the daunting level of miscarriages that makes it unbearable for even professionals like her to deal with. In her clinic alone, Dr. Hawa Abdi has counted 1,111 miscarriages in four months.
On August 3, 2007, UNICEF issued a statement indicating that it is “distressed at the impact that violence is having on children in Mogadishu and calls on all parties to the conflict to ensure the safety of civilians, especially children.” In another statement, Christian Balslev-Olesen, UNICEF Representative stated “The indiscriminate killing of children makes a mockery of any movement toward reconciliation…For Somalia to move forward, it must ensure that its most vulnerable do not come under attack.”
Meanwhile in Mogadishu, people are routinely disappearing out of their homes and are yanked out of their beds in the still of the night. They are being held in various prisons around Mogadishu without any due process, and in some cases are handed over for extraordinary rendition. Reports point to the emergence of a cottage industry of corruption in which families of those ghost prisoners could be freed with minimum ransom money of $500.
As if that is not enough to exacerbate the situation, the Bakaara Business District was targeted to systematically cripple Mogadishu’s economy and in the process killing dozens, mainly business-people, customers, and residents. In addition, large segments of the market and surrounding houses have been destroyed or severely damaged. We will be remiss if we don’t highlight that the majority of the business community affected by this vicious campaign are women, whose hard work and tremendous tenacity played a significant part of Somalia’s survival of the 17 years civil strife.
The effect of this vicious campaign has taken a toll on the people of Mogadishu. The campaign caused increased insecurity and widespread looting that brought commerce to a sudden halt, therefore, causing severe shortage of food and basic commodities such as rice, sugar, wheat flour and vegetable oil and a serious inflation.
The Somali Diaspora Network is concerned about the ramifications of these tactics. The insecurity and loss of income to families will result in a man-made famine which will only fuel more hatred, foster extremism, and further alienate a significant number of the population.
And because the TFG and its Ethiopian backers have repeatedly ignored condemnations from various bodies within the international community, it is imperative that the US, EU and the UN take the following concrete actions to stop this latest terror tactics perpetrated against the Mogadishu civilians and its business community:
- Call for the immediate withdrawal of the Ethiopian forces.
- Hold both the TFG and the Ethiopian forces accountable for committing human rights abuses against the civilians.
- Make aid monies contingent upon TFG reining in its security forces, stopping human rights abuses, demonstrate good governance and compliance with the Transitional Federal Charter.
- Assist in the establishment of a legitimate unity government that upholds the Transitional Federal Charter and respects the system of checks and balances. This unity government’s primary goal should be to sustain peace and pave the way for genuine national elections.
We call upon the United States Congress to conduct hearings on the role of the current administration in the Somali crisis. Washington’s unyielding support of the Ethiopian occupation and the Transitional Federal Government’s dictatorship tendencies is tarnishing the reputation of the United States and is causing us to lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the people of the Horn of Africa.
ABOUT SOMALI DIASPORA NETWORK (SDN) – SDN is a grass-roots organization committed to advocate on critical policy matters pertaining to Somali-American interest and issues of concern through communication and information sharing, raising public awareness, and educating the public and government officials.