“I Live In Mogadishu”

“I Live In Mogadishu”


I live and work in the Halane area of Mogadishu, which flanks the airport. Nowadays, Halane is populated almost entirely by African Union troops (22,000 in total, most of whom are from East African countries and sent to support the fledgling federal Government), members of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and other UN agencies, which is why some skeptical Somalis call it “the occupied territory”. Ordinary Somalis will find it difficult to access areas of Halane other than the civilian airport terminal.

I happened to be out of town the day the attack occurred. A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device destroyed the front gate of our office. Suicide attackers followed.

They were eventually cornered in the compound and killed, but only after they had killed a number of guards and staff. I knew each of the victims to some extent, and one was a very close friend.

Moving into Halane headquarters was full of complications. I still breathed the same air, watched the same stars, felt the same rain (on the rare occasions that it rained) as my fellow Somalis and NGO workers, but things were not ideal. It was very difficult to access our partners due to insecurity, and we had to constantly work to separate any conflation or misperceptions between humanitarian and military operations.

Despite this, there are multiple advantages to where we are now. In addition to interacting with the humanitarian agencies based in Halane and with partners based just outside, we engage daily with the political mission, to ensure their decisions are informed by humanitarian concerns.

And we have strengthened civil-military coordination with AMISOM, reiterating our concerns around civilian protection and humanitarian access at every opportunity. Anyone who knows how AMISOM operated four or five years ago will see that while imperfect, those areas have significantly improved. Our national staff are with us again, though making their way into the compound can be perilous. In July 2016, an attack at the main gate killed a UNHCR colleague, the father of three beautiful young children.

Source: UN OCHA Somalia