Somalia June 2016

Please find below some photos of Somalia taken in 2015/6 which you can access via the following link or by scrolling through below pictures.

A few words of explanation:

Approaching Mogadishu international Airport (MIA) by air:

The 4x2 km area around the Mogadishu airport is secured by troops provided by the African Union military mission (AMISOM) and the area is considered relatively safe. That is also the area where the UN camp and other camps are located. I was lucky that a pilot allowed me to take photos from the pilot’s perspective during the final approach.

Mogadishu, in the 1960s and now in 2016:

Today the Somali capital Mogadishu has an estimated 2 million inhabitants. Before the civil war which started in the 1980s Mogadishu held some 500,000 inhabitants and was considered the most beautiful city in East-Africa. It was a mixture of Arabic flair and Italian architecture. The displayed photos show old post-cards from the 1960s compared with how this area or a particular building looks like today.

Peace Park and Lido Beach (pictures taken by a Somali colleague):

There are a few places where young people of Mogadishu chill out on weekends. One is the Peace Park, the other one is Lido Beach where people go swimming, play soccer or engage in jumping competitions. Sadly enough Lido Beach was one of the places where in 2015 the Islamist movement Al-Shabaab conducted a terrorist attack killing some 20 people thus adding to a general feeling of insecurity in town.

Mogadishu street scenes:

With the influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing parts of Somalia where war is still ravaging IDP camps have been established in and around Mogadishu. As unemployment is wide-spread many people struggle to earn a living as street vendors. The infrastructure of Mogadishu incl. streets, powerlines, water supply, sewage system has suffered heavily during the three decades of civil war.

Khat Delivery:

Khat is the traditional drug consumed by male Somali. It contains an amphetamine-like stimulant, which causes excitement, loss of appetite and euphoria and can produce mild-to-moderate psychological dependence. The green leaves are harvested in Northern-Kenya, flown to Somalia in big jute-sacks and distributed to street vendors (mainly women). As the leaves have to be chewed freshly it requires a continuous, swift and efficient supply chain.

Ongoing War:

Three wooden poles near Marina gate mark the place where convicted criminals are executed. While Mogadishu has been liberated from Al-Shabaab in 2011 by the AMISOM troops sever fighting still continues in many parts of southern or south-central Somalia. Clashes between AMISOM troops supported by the newly formed Somali National Army (SNA) on the one side and the Islamist insurgent movement Al-Shabaab on the other side result in a high death toll on both sides (pictures taken from various websites). In early 2016 a suicide bomber attempted to blow up a passenger airplane using explosives hidden in a lap top smuggled on board with the help of an employee of the airport security. Fortunately, the pilot was able to safely land the airplane which still is grounded at Mogadishu airport. The only person killed in that incident was the suicide bomber.

Road missions within Mogadishu

Considering the eminent risk of ambushes or kidnapping UN staff use armored vehicles and an escort of a minimum of 21 armed Somali guards whenever we leave the secured MIA area. Every road mission starts with a briefing on the current threat situation and how to react in case of an attack. Routs are constantly changed in order to mitigate the risk. For certain destinations we are using AMISOM Armored Personnel Carriers (APC).

Conferences, Workshops, Political Meetings

An essential part of our daily work is arranging or participating in conferences, workshops and political meetings. Find pictures of the National Consultative Forum on elections (Dec 2015), a meeting with H.E. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, a meeting with H.E. Prime minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, and a discussion with H.E. the Speaker of the Parliament, Hon. Mohamed Sheikh Osman "Jawari". The other pictures show workshops related to the constitutional review process and group pictures of our UNDP project team.

Life at MIA:

Our offices and accommodation are located at the Mogadishu International Airport (MIA) area which is secured by AMISOM troops. Yes, there exists (some) “life after work”. As the camp occasionally gets shelled with rockets or mortars each camp has several bunkers (pictures taken during a bunker drill). Sadly enough there is a souvenir stall close to the airport which sells leopard skins for 250 USD a piece. Good news is that reportedly nobody bought any of them during the past months.

Flight to South-West State

The photos show the landscape of Southern Somalia which receives more rain and is more fertile than the rest of the country. The town with encircled by a picturesquely shaped river is called Luuq. Pictures show an army camp established within the ruins of former Italian settlement. The small animals are mongooses which among others eat snakes.

Northern Somalia:

Puntland, Somaliland and parts of Ethiopia are currently affected by a sever draught (three consecutive years without proper rain) which created a humanitarian catastrophe endangering the lives of more than 10 million people in that region. Pastoralists struggle to keep their herds alive. The last pictures show Conoco airport a temporary airfield near Garowe/Puntland.