News / Africa

Somalis in Baidoa Expect More from New Government

Ethiopian forces cleared Baidoa town of al-Shabaab militants in February of this year, August 24, 2012
Ethiopian forces cleared Baidoa town of al-Shabaab militants in February of this year, August 24, 2012
Roopa Gogineni
BAIDOA — Earlier this week, a new parliament was installed in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. Meanwhile in the smaller city of Baidoa, a city liberated from al-Shabab militants in February, Ethiopian forces are handing over control to African Union and Somali forces. In Baidoa, residents are grateful for the security, but wonder why aid has been so slow to follow.   
    
Sangaba Sheikh is a mother of ten. For the past 20 years she has sold miraa, a plant narcotic popular in Somalia, in the community of Baidoa. These days, business is slow.

“Miraa is very expensive and people are not able to buy because people do not have any income," she said. "We are hungry because we are not getting any money from business.”

Before February of this year, Baidoa was under the control of al-Shabab. The Islamist militants drove the miraa trade underground. Since the Ethiopians liberated Baidoa in February, Sheikh has been able to sell openly on the streets again, but she makes meager profits.

Residents of Baidoa expected aid from Mogadishu and beyond would arrive once they were free of al-Shabab. The city had been under siege for three years. No humanitarian aid was allowed in during this time - al-Shabab even stopped polio vaccines sent by the World Health Organization.

Abdifatah Mohamed Ibrahim, known as "Gesey," is the governor of Bay region, of which Baidoa is the capital. Speaking through a translator, he described his frustration with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, or TFG.
 
“When the TFG took over Afgoye or Balade, immediately the president and the PM visited to show that the central government was supporting," said Ibrahim. "They took control of Baidoa around February. From then until now, it is six months down the line and no support has come.”

Getting aid to Baidoa is a challenge. Two hundred forty kilometers separate Mogadishu from Baidoa. Approximately 150 of these are still under al-Shabab control. This basically cuts off the city from government help.

Ali Hassan Abdi drives a truck between Mogadishu and Baidoa. He keeps his truck in a state of disrepair to avoid heavier taxes at al- Shabaab checkpoints, August 24, 2012.Ali Hassan Abdi drives a truck between Mogadishu and Baidoa. He keeps his truck in a state of disrepair to avoid heavier taxes at al- Shabaab checkpoints, August 24, 2012.
x
Ali Hassan Abdi drives a truck between Mogadishu and Baidoa. He keeps his truck in a state of disrepair to avoid heavier taxes at al- Shabaab checkpoints, August 24, 2012.
Ali Hassan Abdi drives a truck between Mogadishu and Baidoa. He keeps his truck in a state of disrepair to avoid heavier taxes at al- Shabaab checkpoints, August 24, 2012.
Ali Hassan Abdi drives a truck between Mogadishu and Baidoa. He described an al-Shabab checkpoint at Buurhakaba, a town along the road.

“They take miraa from you, they torture you, they point guns at you, they take the cigarettes, they blindfold and torture you and then release you after five hours or so,” said Abdi.
 
Al-Shabab militias off-load all trucks and search through the cargo. If they find food aid, the bags of rice and sorghum are promptly burnt. Items that are not confiscated are taxed. Abdi estimates he pays 400 US dollars for every 1,000 dollars of cargo.
 
Despite the challenges, "Gesey" is cautiously optimistic about the new government’s potential. He explained, through a translator.
 
“The trend of the way things are happening is not bad," Ibrahim said. "Selecting individuals who are educated into the parliament and stopping people who have caused problems, warlords, from becoming part of this new parliament, we're going to at least improve the situation.”

One of the new government's main tasks will be to clear al-Shabab from the areas still under the militant group's control. The group has lost much of territory to a multi-nation offensive in the past two years but still controls the port city of Kismayo and other areas, including lands around Baidoa.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid