WARNING FROM U.S. EXPERT ON SOMALIA:
`A Level of Destruction ...
Mogadishu Has Never Seen'
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30, 2007 (EIRNS)Mogadishu is experiencing "a level of destruction... that the city has never seen," reported Dr. Kenneth Menkhaus, an internationally recognized expert on Somalia, to EIR's Lawrence Freeman, in an interview April 24. The full interview will be published in the May 11 edition of EIR Online.
After noting that Menkhaus has been quoted calling the situation in Mogadishu after the Ethiopian invasion a "perfect storm" for disaster, EIR asked him to describe the situation:
Menkhaus said: "The humanitarian crisis that is being produced by the very heavy fighting in Mogadishu, is the worst humanitarian crisis in Somalia since the 1982 famine. We now have, in a city of roughly 1 million people, an estimated 200,000-300,000 displaced. They're being displaced in a context of ongoing fighting, in a context of heavy rains coming in; the rainy season has begun, and there is flooding in the Shabelle River, where many of them have fled. So disease is rife. We've got outbreaks of cholera and other lethal waterborne diseases. And at the same time, Mogadishu and the surrounding area have been largely off-limits to international relief agencies, due to a combination of insecurity and policies that are being enforced by the Transitional Federal Government, which are very restrictive, and seem to be designed to impede the flow of food relief to the populations that they are fighting."
He continued: On the humanitarian side, yes, this is the perfect storm: the combination of the rainy season, the war, the displacement, and then the government policy."
When EIR asked whether the situation had deterioried to the level commonly association with the moive "Blackhawk Down," Dr. Menkhaus said:
"Well, you can't even compare the situation in 2006, at least the latter half of 2006, with what's going on there now. In the latter half of 2006, the Islamist movement, which took control of the entire capital and the surrounding areas, was able to impose public order, rule of law, and government services in a way that the population hadn't seen in 16 years. You could walk the street safely day or night, businesses could be open late. This was by far and away the best public security that Mogadishu had seen, and gave the Somali citizens there a lot of hope.
"Unfortunately, the Islamist movement turned radical, at least some elements within the Islamist movement turned radical; they helped provoke this war with Ethiopia. And now we have a situation where the Ethiopian forces appear to be indiscriminately shelling whole neighborhoods. I received a report today which is claiming that one in three homes in northern Mogadishu has been damaged or destroyed.
"This is a level of destruction in a very short period of time, that the city has never seen."