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SOOMAL: DISPATCHES FROM A NOMAD

Rare good news from Somalia

It is not a prank despite the coincidence with April Fools Day

In Summary

• As much as we often blame them and the government whenever something bad happens, we have to this time round applaud and motivate them to even work much harder to save more lives in Somalia.

• Just for the record, Somali soldiers work under very harsh and poor conditions.

Somali security forces stand at the scene of an explosion near the president's residence in Mogadishu, Somalia December 22, 2018
Somali security forces stand at the scene of an explosion near the president's residence in Mogadishu, Somalia December 22, 2018
Image: REUTERS

On April 1 "Fools Day", Somalia's Special Forces seized a truck laden with heavy explosives in Sabiid, a small village outside the capital Mogadishu, which they recently captured from al Shabaab terrorists.

Security sources claim that the size of the bomb fitted in the lorry was much more deadlier than the one that exploded on October 14, 2017, which killed over 500 people in Mogadishu. 

These soldiers good work has for sure saved hundreds of lives and must be lauded and encouraged.  

This is good news and yes it is true. It is not a prank despite the coincidence with April Fools Day. 

SILENT HEROES

This is exactly why we need to celebrate those silent heroes because Somalia forces hard work, dedication and patriotism is often very much overlooked.

As much as we often blame them and the government whenever something bad happens, we have to this time round applaud and motivate them to even work much harder to save more lives in Somalia. Today, we salute and celebrate those soldiers.

Just for the record, Somali soldiers work under very harsh and poor conditions. Many of them fight without a flak jacket or bulletproof vests, helmet and even without heavy calibre weapons because of a UN arms embargo slapped on Somalia. 

Al Shabaab, on the other hand, has no arms embargo to observe and arms itself to the tooth when the poor Somali soldiers are only allowed to fight with light weapons because of the said embargo. How then do we expect them to win?

Did I also tell you Somali soldiers are not insured? Yes, they have no medical cover or compensation package. The government provides free medical treatment to soldiers who are seriously wounded who are often flown outside Somalia for treatment. However, there are also cases of soldiers claiming to have been abandoned after sustaining injuries while fighting for their country.

Now add all those harsh conditions to sometimes going without pay. Even after putting their lives on the line of fire, they sometimes don’t get paid. The government vehemently disputes this sad reality. 

Soldiers in Lower Shabelle just recently abandoned the frontline positions due to lack of pay. The government should stop playing politics and pay its soldiers. 

Somalia forces face many other challenges. The Somalia National Army is still work under progress but is also actively fighting al Shabaab militants. This has had its toll on the forces because you cannot build and at the same time destroy or fight. 

SOMALI PEACEKEEPERS

But then, does Somalia have an option here? Of course not. They have to fight and at the same time continue to build their security forces capacity and professionalism.  

The other challenge is lack of well-built military bases. Many of the bases in Somalia are either in ruins or have been grabbed, forcing soldiers to live with civilians. 

Somalia under Siyad Bare used to be under military rule had many military bases. The army needs those barracks in order to inculcate discipline amongst the soldiers. This is also good for morale and unity.  

Did you know Somalia plans to deploy a peacekeeping force to South Sudan? Well, in that case, they are not that bad then. On the contrary, I believe they would be good teachers for the South Sudanese rebels. Talk of a living example.

DIPLOMATIC TIES

Isn't it also nice to hear Somalia has also finally mended diplomatic ties with Kenya over their disputed marine border? This comes after meetings between the two Presidents and their Foreign Affairs ministers. 

Now back to some not really good news. The UN has been accused of double standards in Somalia for indirectly bankrolling al Shabaab. 

Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau was quoted by sections of the media saying that the UN gives al Shabaab 10 per cent of humanitarian aid in order to grant safe passage of the same relief to hunger-stricken Somalis.  

The senior official apparently said the above in response to a UN resolution on terror financing terming it as contradicting. The UN did not respond to the damning accusation. 

It surely needs to come out clean because the UN is one the biggest backers of the Somalia government and people. As a matter of fact, the current Somalia government is itself a creation of the UN.