Mogadishu (UM) – As the Holy month of Ramadan approaches, many interviewed by UM expressed their concerns about the possibility of a worse security situation than already exists in the capital, Mogadishu.
Only a few days ago Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, the Minister of Security and military officials inspected parts of Mogadishu and pledged the government and security services will work hard to secure the residents of the capital. As the beginning of Ramadan is likely to be tonight according to some scholars, more checkpoints are being erected and existing ones are being reinforced according to a senior security official who spoke to UM on the condition of anonymity.
“Security in Ramadan is a real concern, far worse than any other month because these extremists think they are going to heaven faster in Ramadan,” said the security source. “Are we ready to fight them off and keep the people safe? This is something we are working on everyday but is not guaranteed like every Ramadan before.”
Mogadishu residents interviewed by UM have expressed their concern that, despite the reassurances of the Prime Minister, Al-Shabaab have usually used the month of Ramadan to showcase their strength against the government and the national security services.
“This is a Holy but a scary month for all of us across Somalia,” said Ibrahim Nur, a street trader in Mogadishu. “Car bombs scare me the most because I move around the city when I am selling my goods.”
“As a hotelier, I already had half my clients move out because they think we are going to be attacked. More people want to live in houses this month because they feel Al-Shabaab will target hotels and my business will suffer,” said a hotel owner who did not want to be named. “I don’t feel that government can do anything to help me in this situation to reassure my customers to return but it wants taxes from me.”
Many interviewed felt that the Prime Minister and Security official’s inspection of checkpoints and military bases to ensure that Mogadishu and Banadir residents are kept safe while they fast was a public relations stunts which has no defensive value for them or their business.
“The Prime Minister and the security officers walking around with all their security does not make me feel safe, it makes me feel unsafe,” said Safia Ali, a school teacher. “If the government wants to keep us safe, it should just do it and not advertise it on tv.”
“The whole security arrangement is weak, and the security officers are the same people who were in the post before who are all badly paid and disciplined,” stressed Bilan Haji Ahmed, a shop owner. “If they want to do a good job and for us to trust them they have to have good training, salary and strong leadership.”
All the interviewed by UM felt that the Somali public must play their part and remain vigilant. They all agreed that they must report all suspicious activities they see. But many stressed the lack of information and coordination of the Somali security sector which they do not trust to protect them.
“In this Holy month of Ramadan, we will be vigilant, work with the Somali security forces and trust in God,” said a community elder in Hawlwadag district. “I hope this is enough to keep us all safe in Mogadishu since we can’t all live in Villa Somalia or the Halane compound.”