News / Africa

UN, AU Troops Protect Mogadishu Aid Workers

United Nations personnel look on as a worker serves food at a camp in Hodan district in Mogadishu, January 19, 2012
United Nations personnel look on as a worker serves food at a camp in Hodan district in Mogadishu, January 19, 2012

Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, is said to be among the most dangerous places in the world, mainly because of the multitude of unpredictable and deadly attacks by the militant Islamic group al-Shabab. Yet, national and international aid workers continue to provide badly-needed help among the traumatized population, with the assistance of security officers from the United Nations and African Union.

Today’s mission is to take a group of journalists to various sites within Somalia’s beleaguered capital. It is a tour designed to show first-hand the deplorable living conditions of those who fled drought, famine, and al-Shabab.

United Nations’ field security coordinating officer Jotame Misivono knows that anything can happen at any time. Within the past week, several roadside bombs have gone off on Mogadishu’s streets and almost a dozen armed clashes took place. Just yesterday, the mayor’s deputy assistant’s car was blown up by an IED, or improvised explosive device, that was planted inside his car.

Misivono’s job is to transport United Nations staff in armored vehicles called “caspers” as they carry out their humanitarian work. He says anticipating possible insurgent attacks - and taking measures to prevent being targeted - is a challenge, but needs to be done because, as he says, “people need to be fed and supported.”

“It’s normal to a human being’s reaction, that you have fear. But as a professional, you have to control your fear, taking into consideration that the life of the staff members are in your hands,” said Misivono.

For Gwendoline Mensah, head of the United Nations refugee agency in Mogadishu, Misivono and his colleagues are a godsend, as is the African Union mission, known as AMISOM.

“Whenever we go outside of the U.N. compound, then we go, as we did today, in the caspers," said Mensah. "You have the highly professional AMISOM soldiers who are protecting you. Of course, they cannot mitigate against every possible threat, but you do feel confident that, if something should happen, they will be on hand.”

A Ugandan peacekeeper from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) assists his wounded colleague after an encounter with Islamist militia in the northern suburbs of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, January 20, 2012
A Ugandan peacekeeper from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) assists his wounded colleague after an encounter with Islamist militia in the northern suburbs of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, January 20, 2012

AMISOM is comprised of troops from Uganda, Burundi, and Kenya.  AMISOM’s stated aim is to, among other things, stabilize the capital to make it safe for humanitarian workers to operate.

Captain Ronald Kakurugu takes comfort in the fact that he and his colleagues are trained to physically and psychologically prepare for, and deal with, anything that could happen at any moment. He describes what happened after he was injured when insurgents fired a bomb as the troops were securing part of Mogadishu.

“Fortunately, we have a very swift medical team - we have several medical teams. Casualty evacuation is very fast," said Kakurugu. "First aid itself is done very quickly, and evacuation to the hospital is also very fast. So all that was done and in the space of about 15 minutes I was under very good care, and I recovered after a few weeks.”

In the bustling compound of the Somali Rehabilitation and Development Agency, or SORDA, hundreds of mostly women and children receive food rations and health care.  Nurse Khadra Suleyman is giving a young mother medicine for her sick baby.

Suleyman has had at least one close call on the streets of Mogadishu, being injured by a stray bullet when thugs shot a man while robbing him.

Al-Shabab killed Suleyman’s husband three years ago - she says she is both mother and father to her eight children.  Love and care for her children keep her going back to the workplace day after day despite the risks.  Her big worry is who will care for her children if she dies.  But, speaking through a translator, she says she has found strength and a certain level of peace.

“I pray to Allah and I feel that I will not be in trouble since I am helping people," said Suleyman. "But thanks to Allah, since I have been working here, I have never encountered a problem.”

The safety of national and international aid workers is a growing problem within Mogadishu and across the country. Doctors Without Borders this week announced that they would cease operations in a section of the capital following the killings of two of its workers.

Last November, al-Shabab banned 16 international aid agencies from operating in the territories it controls. The militant group accused the agencies of spying on them on behalf of western entities.

A season of rains has eased the drought that helped drive parts of southern Somalia into famine last year. But the situation in the country remains dire. According to U.N. figures released in December, 250,000 people in Somalia face imminent starvation, 450,000 children are acutely malnourished, and 3.7 million people all across the country are in need of primary or basic secondary health care services.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid