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Mogadishu: will it survive another ordeal!

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by Ahmed Raghe Hassan
Tuesday 6 March, 2007


I was born in Mogadishu in 1952 and lived in it, studied and worked in it since 2002, when I realised it was time to leave my beloved hometown Mogadishu. The continuous fighting made me leave my home and family members behind. In search of a secure place to live; a place in which one can think, work and study without physical harm. Away from the marauding squads that rake the city streets in search of a prey; a victim to vandalise, a defenceless person to robe, or perhaps shoot for the sake of shooting.


The once glorious capital city of Somalia, has never known peace of mind since 1990 up to the present day. It was a beleaguered city for almost two decades. The Local warlords turned Mogadishu into a garbage camp where rodents and cats thrive. A gloomy city with no modern utilities: electricity, clean water, medical service and security system.


The remnants of the old Somali Parliament, Mogadishu, Somalia (Photo: Xiis/HOL- 2004)

Yet, it persisted in the face of all these adversities. It defied extinction- Most state main structures, prominent buildings, cultural heritage centres, university campuses, hospitals and schools still linger to exist, though partially destroyed by the sixteen years of conflict and neglect. The remnants still stand, albeit, beyond recognition and showing the deep scars of the dark years. The new comers, the Ethiopians, seem to be completing the process of destruction by bounding Mogadishu day and night.


“No city can absorb bombs better than Mogadishu”, legends say. The city and its people have been equally hardened by long years of civil strive. They have seen the bombing of the late dictator said Barre, the Aidid vs Mahdi war, the ill-fated UNOSOM conflict with Aidid and the subsequent warlord clashes between competing warlords. During all these long years of agony, the residents of Hamar* were never displaced in large scale as they do now.


A relative attends to a boy wounded during artillery attacks in Mogadishu  - (REUTERS/Shabelle Media)

Today, the picture is different. Mogadishu is crumbling under the full weight of the Ethiopian army, a heavily motorised enemy force. Thousands of families are forced out of their homes to camp outside the city without medical care and sanitation. Water born diseases are rife and endemics threaten many kids beyond the reach of NGOs.


The Ethiopian conduct, the deliberate targeting of civilian residential areas, the absence of international accountability, the indifference of the TGF to the suffering of its people have dashed all hopes of the civilian population. Consequently, a huge exodus of internally displaced people resulted. The sprawling camps around Mogadishu outskirts are growing day after day.


If this situation continues unchecked, a scenario similar to Darfur may be in the pipeline in Somalia. “A staggering 400.000 is already out of their homes and this could be the tip of the iceberg” Says Dr. Abdi Ibrahim, a surgeon in Madina Hospital. “Cholera outbreaks are our biggest worry” adds Dr. Abdi Ibrahim.


In the opinion of many analysts in Somalia, the situation in Mogadishu is deteriorating with alarming speed. The Ethiopian conscripts, not disciplined soldiers, are behaving like the Janjanweed warriors- killing at sight and destroying anything on their path. The only meaning full difference is that they ride tanks instead of camels. So many innocent civilians take direct hits from the Ethiopian occupation army. The livelihoods of thousands of people are destroyed.  A huge influx of refugees is created. The signs look like  another Darfur. The international community is requested to monitor the crisis while the sun shines.


Hamar*: Local name of Mogadishu

Ahmed Raghe Hassan

[email protected]

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