Africa Somali parents take to streets over ‘missing’ army recruits

Somali parents take to streets over ‘missing’ army recruits

Somali parents Thursday staged a protest in the capital Mogadishu, demanding the government disclose the whereabouts of their sons who were taken to Eritrea for military training.

This fresh protest by the parents comes days after a UN human rights report, citing “credible sources”, said that Somali trainees have crossed to the Eritrean border along with the Eritrean forces to fight in Ethiopia’s conflict-hit Tigray region.

Bashir Sheikh Ali, the father of a recruit, told Anadolu Agency in Mogadishu they want the government to explain the recruiting process and the whereabout of their sons.

“Our son was very young and he was told that he was going to Qatar for training. He was told he will be paid well and become an army officer. But he was transferred to Eritrea. Since his departure, we never communicated with him,” Ali said.

“If the government does not have anything to hide, it should tell us if he is alive or dead,” he demanded.

Halima Abdi, one of the protesting parents, told Anadolu Agency that they will continue the protest to pressure the government.

“We are not against our government. We are patriotic citizens, but the way our leaders are behaving right now is unacceptable. We need full information about our sons,” Abdi said.

Some families confirmed they spoke to their sons through the government communication channels.

Somali government reiterates denial

The Somali government Thursday again strongly denied that its forces fought in Tigray region, but confirmed the presence of Somalian forces in Eritrea.

Somali Information Minister Osman Dubbe told a news conference in Mogadishu after the protests: “No Somali soldier is fighting in Tigray, no Somali soldier has been captured in Tigray, and no Somali soldier was in Axum.”

He said Eritrea is training the forces just like other friendly countries who are taking part in rebuilding and strengthening the Somali national army.

The minister accused the political opposition groups of politicizing the country’s defense and security matters.

“In many countries, politicians avoid discussing defense and security matters because it is deemed a supreme national secret. Unfortunately, our politicians have made the politicization of our forces a hobby which is dangerous,” he said