Archive for June, 2009

Mogadishu, Somalia: The City the World Forgot

You may recall the controversial movie Black Hawk Down by Ridley Scott, which featured the task force of Delta Force soldiers, Army Rangers, and Special Operations Aviation Regiment in an attempt to capture two of Mohammed Farah Aidid’s senior subordinates in the Bakaara Market neighborhood of Mogadishu in the early 1990’s. More recently, you may recall the Somalian piriate drama. In reality, Mogadishu has fallen off the world’s radar, even though it is considered to be a state that is near total collapse.


It’s a odd world when we get most of our information of this ravaged country and city through the likes of a grandiose big blockbuster Hollywood movie like Black Hawk Down and South Park, who recently aired an episode poking fun at the recent wave of Somalian pirate news.

In an incredible glimpse into the current conflicts ravaging Mogadishu, Somalia, journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad recounts his one week experience within the war-torn city.

He tells the story of Dr. Taher Mahmoud, a surgeon who has been working within the city for the past twenty years. Mogadishu has been brutally ravaged by running battled between the current notional president, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and his forces and the radical Islamist Al-Shabaab Militia. In the past few days, over 200 have been killed and over 60,000 have fled.

With medicines and supplies running low, there is also no room in his hospital. Many patients are forced to sleep under trees on makeshift beds. Ghaith tells us of a mother looking after her child with terrible burns. She says “We pray for peace – we have nothing but prayers. This is the best hospital in Mogadishu and we don’t have electricity or running water.”

These people live on a tightrope. Al Hassan, a police officer within the city, says “When the whole state is collapsing all that we have is our religion.” He has not been paid in the last 18 months and he says a good month for him is when he receives some wheat, water and canned food.

In a land that has only known conflict and war, a Ugandan officer in the presidential compound gave his view of the whole picture. “Look. The best thing the Somalis know how to do is to kill other Somalis.”

Mogadishu is a place that offers little hope, but there are still people who believe that things can change. The resilience of the Somalian people is incredible. They can survive in a city with a near absence of a viable economy. A young government employee explained that “Somalis have a very strong social support network. If you work with the government or in the market you support at least 10 people of your family, and your neighbors. The people who live outside [the country] send money, and if there is a rich Somali and he doesn’t support the poor, he will be despised, and no one would marry his daughters.”

These are the stories we should be reading about. These are the real people of this world and they barely register a blip on the world’s radar. I think this article is incredible and I hope you take the time to read it here.

Check out Boston Globe’s photo montage of the conflicts here.

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