Osman Omar quoted in his book Mr. Sam Toussie, one of the
medical doctors sent by the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) in 1991 describing the situation in Mogadishu in
the following chilling words:
have been in wars for eight years, and I have never seen a
slaughter like this. We were getting 150 casualties a day at
one hospital. Seventy five per cent were children and we were
losing five persons an hour. We had parents coming into the
hospital compound armed.”
ROAD TO ZERO
By Mohamed Osman Omar (page 221).
Osman, a former Somali diplomat and an old friend of mine,
also quotes the ICRC Press release of November 20, 1991, which
situation in Somalia is a human disaster of the first
magnitude. Fighting continues unabated in Mogadishu with heavy
shelling and continuous gunfire.
are thousands of wounded, including many women and children. A
large number of them are not treated in hospitals because of
lack of security and the impossibility of transferring them.
The medical infrastructure is quite inadequate to cope with
the extreme emergency of the situation.”
was 1991 and the situation was getting from bad to worse since
then and there’s no end in sight, in spite of futile peace
talks that heaved and dragged for almost 15 years.
as it was then, nobody stops to pick up the wounded or bury
the dead. The United Nations, the African Union, the Arab
League, and the Islamic Conference Organization (ICO) of which
Somalia is (was) a full member pay no attention to the
unending human tragedy in Somalia (or is it a conspiracy of
silence?). Some say that unless the United States was involved
in any given situation, as in Afghanistan or Bosnia, it is not
worth paying attention to it. The Western media prefers to
call it “The Big Profile” just because Washington was
“alarmed” about the orgy of violence in those countries.
this electronic age and satellite technology the world is
getting smaller and ignorance of what is happening in Somalia
is no longer a valid argument.
1993/94 the Americans and UNOSOM were well aware that a social
cancer confronted the Somali people and they should have
employed whatever surgical procedures were necessary instead
of pulling out prematurely. They were also aware that they
were dealing with tribal shibboleths and power hungry warlords
who were bent on destroying a whole country and its people in
order to fill the vacuum left by the former military dictator.
The end justifies the means was their preferred catch phrase.
1993/94 the Americans used a hundred-ton steam hammer to smash
one roach. It is true they could still be walking into a
fusillade again. But that’s to be expected in a country
where guns are galore. It can be irritating and the Mooryaan
are like horned vipers. Something irks them and they lash out.
That’s always fixations.
But with a different approach this time, they can
easily be disarmed and send to a rehab center.
all their hi-tech weaponry and helicopter gunships, not to
mention their intelligence network, the Americans, after
storming the beaches of Mogadishu, should have rolled up their
sleeves and invite the warlords for a Pow wow and immediately
whisk them out of the country to a penal colony ten thousands
miles away, preferably Pappilon’s Devil’s Island.
There were only 14 warlords who were at each other’s
throat at the time. Since then the number has jumped to 25,
mostly wannabe warlords/faction leaders who endeavor to mimic
their more “experienced” Dons.
the 911 tragedies and the war against Iraq paranoia, a second
visit to Somalia by Uncle Sam would be unlikely in the very
near future, unless we can convince Washington that Osama and
his minions are entrenched in Mogadishu (or Shimbiraale, the
bird sanctuary) for regrouping.
would have been an enormous sigh of relief for the ordinary
people of Somalia.
I accept the old adage “as ye sow, so shall ye reap.” But
it was not the vulnerable Somali people as a whole who sow the
seeds of conflict and bloodshed. The UN and the Americans knew
from the very beginning that the warlords are not exactly
his book, The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
said: “But man is not made for defeat. A man can be
destroyed, but not defeated.” In the end the warlords and
their henchmen will become a past tense and the masses will
win. Hobbesian self-survival is the only target at the moment,
and we earnestly hope that one day healing and self-esteem
would prevail in the country and reconstruction will start
from ground zero.
I repeating myself? But that’s how things are and have been
for more than fifteen years of death, doom and destruction
never seen before.
Not since Britain’s all out war against Sayid Mohamed
Abdille Hassan and his followers. The Sayid was destroyed but
not defeated. He died peacefully in the small nomadic
encampment at Iimey in 1920 as he was in the process of
regrouping his forces for another go at the British forces
that resorted using the Royal Air Force, the first ever used
against African insurgents.
bamboozling bombshell is that Britain recently declared it
would save the shaky Somali peace talks in Nairobi. One of the
irony of history is that Britain had given huge tracts of
Somali territories (the size of Britain) to Ethiopia and Kenya
against the wishes and desires of the inhabitants of those
territories in order to gratify “the king of kings, the lion
of Judah”, emperor Haile Selassie and Mzee Jomo
Kenyatta, father of the anti-British colonial administration
known as the Mau Mau movement in the 1950s. Historians believe
that Britain was mainly responsible for the current nightmare
of violence and brutality in the Horn
is more puzzling is that the British delegation at the Nairobi
talks did not say how they intended to save the peace talks or
gave any pointers as to what extent their government planned
to save it from the brink of collapse.
it another British façade to farther re-divide the Somali
Peninsula? Why Britain’s sudden interest in the complex
Somali politics? Or is it an attempt to redress the wrongs
they committed against the Somali people? I think only 10
Downing Street is in a position to answer these questions.
to you, Mr. Blair.
Afrah © 2003
Mr. Afrah is an outspoken Author/Journalist and
a member of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
He contributes hard-hitting articles to Canadian and international
newspapers and magazines on the Somalia situation "through
the eyes of a man who covered the country for more than two
Many of us remember his critical articles in his
weekly English language HEEGAN newspaper, despite a mandatory
self-censorship introduced by Guddiga Baarista Hisbiga Xisbiga
Hantiwadaagga Somaaliyeed in 1984 and the dreaded NSS. I am
very proud to know that Mr. Afrah openly defied the draconian
censorship laws and went ahead to write what he thought was
wrong in the country. He received several death threats from
the warlords and was briefly held hostage by gunmen in 1993.
But he remained defiant and continued to send his stories
of carnage and destruction to Reuters news agency. He still