News / Africa

Mogadishu Safer, but Still Dangerous

A Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia's first Formed Police Unit stands at the top of an armored personnel carrier at a police station in the capital Mogadishu, August 7, 2012.A Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia's first Formed Police Unit stands at the top of an armored personnel carrier at a police station in the capital Mogadishu, August 7, 2012.
x
A Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia's first Formed Police Unit stands at the top of an armored personnel carrier at a police station in the capital Mogadishu, August 7, 2012.
A Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia's first Formed Police Unit stands at the top of an armored personnel carrier at a police station in the capital Mogadishu, August 7, 2012.
MOGADISHU — Today whoever visits Somalia's capital will tell you how significantly security has improved in the city. Ordinary Somalis don’t have to face the constant street fighting they endured during the last two decades.  But those involved in the process of bringing stable institutions and government to the war-torn country still face an element of danger.  Targeted killings in the city are on the rise.

General security has improved in Mogadishu, but journalists, aid workers, and people working for government institutions still face threats to their lives.

Eight journalists and media professionals have been killed in Somalia this year, and suicide bombers tried unsuccessfully to attack the meeting where Somalia's new constitution was passed earlier this month.

The U.S. envoy to Somalia, Ambassador James Swan, praised individuals working with the government despite daily threats against them.

“Let me just say we are very much impressed at the courageousness, not only for media organs but also for example members of the technical selection committee and other involved in this transition process," said Dwan. "They have shown courage, great integrity, a genuine commitment to change here in Somalia.”

The technical selection committee that Swan mentions is working to screen and approve members of Somalia's new parliament.  The committee recently rejected more than 60 nominated legislators because of their connection to and involvement in Somalia’s civil war.

This step has angered many warlords in the city and residents fear war may break out between warlords' militias and the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force, known as AMISOM.

Mogadishu has enjoyed a year of peace since AU troops along with Somali government forces drove the militant group al-Shabab out of the city last year.  

The threat of street violence has not disappeared entirely.  Nearly every street and alley in Mogadishu has a checkpoint administered by clan-based militias who portray themselves as official police.

Informed sources familiar with these checkpoints tell VOA that payment is made to the commander of each checkpoint, and depending how frequently one uses these checkpoints, drivers can pay up to $20 a day or about $200 monthly.

For militiamen manning these checkpoints, it is the only way they can earn a living.

Ambassador Swan said the security forces in the country, both African Union and Somali government forces, must provide a more secure environment for individuals and institutions affiliated with the country’s transition process.

The United Nations special representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, warned no one will be allowed to disturb the relative peace which the country has enjoyed for the last year.

“The force commander of AMISOM, he has given assurance to the international partners and to the process that AMISOM is fully equipped, is fully alert, is on top of the situation and we do not expect the peace that has been won so dearly to be disturbed," said Mahiga.

The peace will be tested in the coming days as the final members of the new parliament are selected and lawmakers then elect a new president.  The United Nations hopes the process will give Somalia its first stable central government in more than two decades.

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dr Edo McGowan from: Carpinteria CA
September 01, 2012 8:10 PM
Somalia, pushing the clock back to the late 1970s when the Russians just left for Ethiopia and we just left Ethiopia for Somalia---Musical chairs. For many amongst us who were old Africa hands as we opened the new USAID mission in the old Sinclair Oil Company offices, this was the cleanest and most secure city noted in all of Africa. One could walk the narrow curving streets and alleys of the old city of Mogadischu at 2 in the morning in complete safety. Bottles and cans were salvaged from our garbage as they were valuable containers, donkeys pulling carts wore diapers. Traffic was sparse but highly orderly, nothing like the crushing madness of Nairobi.The Somali shilling was trading at 5 to the dollar. I came back ten years later and one needed to buy $50 of local currency on entry. That amount would fill a Trader Joe's shopping bag and it wasn't worth the time to count. I was giving a paper on water at a convention in San Diego last year and got a Somali taxi driver and we discoursed for the half hour ride, he mentioning that now $4 will fill that same bag. I really hope that things improve as Somali are some of the most brilliant people on the globe, unblemished and selected by the roughest of Darwinian selection. Their gene pool is superb and thus a virtual treasure to the human race.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs