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.
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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs