Views from Fiona: Somali Problem a Regional Catastrophe
This new housing unit, part of a pilot shelter project, offers Dadaab's refugees protection from rain and shine. UNHCR/E.Nyabera
Image Source: UNHCR Canada

Views from Fiona: Somali Problem a Regional Catastrophe


...does not stop on Muslims versus Christians.

By Fiona Abaasa
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First published: Jabuary 31, 2007


The Somali situation as days pass by continues to deteriorate and the feeling is it may indeed turn into a civil war with Islamist militias continue running battles with the government backed troops and Ethiopian troops who helped oust the Islamists from Mogadishu. Once the seat of government and a beautiful city before the 90s Mogadishu is a shadow of its former self- now a breeding city for lumpens, unruly youths high on Murra, terrorists ultimately a ghost town.

Over the New Year Ethiopian troops marched into Mogadishu fighting Islamists who had threatened to over run the government residing in Baidoa. The fighting has displaced thousands and the neighboring countries will feel the magnitude of refugees flocking into their countries. So far Aid agencies are operating three big camps at Dadaab of close to 160,000 Somalis, and Kenya which closed its boarders from the two week war against fleeing Islamist fighters, might get a spill over for the refugees.

Last week Ethiopia began to pull out its troops who liberated the south which has a strong hold for rebels in the last six months. A quick withdraw might leave the interim government in a lurch and besides there is need for a peace keeping troop to pacify Somalia as Addis Ababa pulls out. However any analyst worth his weight knows that it's a tough task considering past experience. Nobody in Africa has forgotten the last international push to pacify Somalia when U.N. and U.S. would-be peacekeepers tried to sort out the anarchy left by the 1991 ouster of a dictator. The US quickly pulled out barely months after 18 of their soldiers were killed and dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.

While many around the continent deeply feel the need to provide African solutions to African problems the Darfur situation is not encouraging. Often African peacekeepers have not been successful because they are ill equipped, with less money they are less motivated, and they have less sophisticated equipment compared to a UN peace mission. So far only our very own President Museveni has shown willingness to commit a peace keeping troop. But at what cost? The Ugandan Media, parliament and opinion leaders are all against the move. It is understandable where these fears come from, we simply do not want to become a target for muslims worldwide in their fight against the west. How do you send our sons and daughters to a landmine? Is this government interested in seeing a return of body bags from Mogadishu? We have enough on our plate trying to fight Kony for the last 20 years albeit unsuccessfully.

Reports show that the American government on 8th January bombarded four targets in its war against the unseen enemy-al Qaeda. Hayo, Garer, Bankajirow and Badmadowe were hit by the US in their bid to flush out the al Qaeda cell. This does not help matters and may spark a civil unrest plunging the country back into the 1990 turmoil. The Bush administration should send in troops if they so much want to get rid of the Islamist but they are wary of the consequences and want AU to do its dirty work. Whatever the outcome, it is important to note that the problem of Somalia does not stop on Muslims versus Christians, but a whole lot more with clan infighting, business people, civic groups who are under represented in the Yusuf Abdullah's government.

After 15 years of internal fighting Somalia is like a cursed nation. It has been in dire straights with a massive humanitarian need. With this conflict the situation might reach palpable proportions. There is need for help to feed these hungry and weather beaten people, especially the women and children. Education has also been at an all time low with less or no basic schooling for most children schooling age. The UN, AU have the mandate to try and pacify Somalia but the task is great and they need all the help each of our governments can afford to pull the country in some semblance of order.

By Fiona Abaasa
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First published: Jabuary 31, 2007
Fiona Abaasa is a visitor of UGPulse.com.

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