Mogadishu Day Four
Today was a burst of activity following a very slow day yesterday – to ensure our security following the assassination of a senior al-Shabab leader (Aden Hashi ‘Ayrow) we spent most of the day inside the hotel conducting interviews there.
This morning, however, we began with an interview with Somalia’s TFG (transitional federal government) deputy prime minister, in fact half-Canadian, in which we discussed the possible routes to peace that Somalia might take. I was extremely impressed with what he said, but as always, these things are easy to talk about but less easy to implement.
The afternoon was spent with African Union troops operating as AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) at their base on the seafront in Mogadishu.
Their mission, as the spokesperson outlined it to me, is firstly to create an environment for Somalis to conduct peace talks; secondly, to contribute to the national security stabilization plan (perhaps in the guise of training, but yet); thirdly, to protect TFG infrastructure; and fourthly and foremostly, self-protection.
AU forces – 2 Ugandan battalions and 1 battalion from Burundi – are well-known for not leaving their bases often, but we visited the ‘hospital’ that they operate on base for Somalis; I put hospital inside quotation marks as it is really just some tents put up for the purpose. It was initially intended for AU troops’ exclusive use, but after observing the need for such facilities they set up shop for Somalis.
This happened about a year ago, and as such the tents are old and need to be replaced.
But, as Dr Sayyad Joseph – the orthopedic surgeon – told me, “even though we are badly funded, and badly equipped, in Mogadishu this place is considered a hospital, and we can do a lot.” They see 5000-6000 patients each month, but there are no beds in the tents. They are even so under-funded that they asked me to appeal for some drugs and mattresses to be sent to the hospital.
This is a photo of Libelle Hassan, the father of one-year old Ali Hassan, who doctors at the AMISOM hospital suspect of having a intra-cerebral lesion in his brain. The child needs a CT scan to confirm this, however, and – being Somali – cannot leave the country to do this (there are no CT scanners in Somalia).
For now, all his family can do is wait and hope that somehow their problems will be solved.
The city itself has been quite calm today, with only one IED attack in the morning. You can view a slideshow of all photos from today by clicking here.