Besieged AU troops struggle to bring peace to Mogadishu
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Security is elusive in the Somali capital, where African Union troops are increasingly coming under attack from Islamist fighters seeking to overthrow the government. FRANCE 24’s Franck Berruyer reports from Mogadishu.
Lawlessness prevails in the Somali capital of Mogadishu and it’s hard to determine exactly who controls the city. Amid mounting violence in recent days, there are fears that the African Union (AU) could withdraw its peacekeepers.
“If the African Union troops leave, I’ll get rid of my uniform and rely on my assault rifle,” a Somali policeman told FRANCE 24’s Franck Berruyer in Mogadishu.
The African Union has sent over 3,000 peacekeepers to Somalia under a UN mandate to restore peace in the Somali capital. Troops from Burundi and Uganda form the bulk of the mission.
But the worsening security situation in the capital is giving African states second thoughts. In the past two years, more than 40 AU troops have been killed in Somalia.
The latest rebel onslaught is led by the Shebab, an Islamist group accused of having links to al Qaeda. The African Union, the United States and the fledgling Somali government have in recent weeks blamed Eritrea for fanning the violence and aiding a loose band of jihadists, who Somali government officials say, is made up of foreign fighters from areas as far-flung as Pakistan and Afghanistan.
AU peacekeepers have been regularly targeted by the insurgents and reinforcements from Sierra Leone and Nigeria have yet to arrive.
In war-torn Mogadishu, daily life continues
AU troops came to Somalia to bring peace to the war-ravaged African nation. Instead, they control just a few blocs of the Somali capital where they distribute food and medical assistance.
The troops compare the streets of Mogadishu to the ones in Iraq or Afghanistan. Checkpoints are regularly bombarded by mortar fire and patrols are constantly on the lookout for roadside bombings and booby-trapped cars.
Despite the lawlessness, daily life continues in Mogadishu for those who haven’t fled the city. Merchants stock up on goods and, off the coast, ships that have managed to elude pirates bring in cargo.
But it’s a precarious existence for the city’s residents and one that does not seem likely to improve in the short term. Somalia is, after all, a country that has had no effective central authority for more than two decades and its 10 million-odd inhabitants have long learned to make do with the little they have access to.
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