MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Former president of Somalia has on Wednesday said thousands of missing recruits who completed training in Eritrea had been “sold” after a UN report confirmed on Tuesday they were deployed in the war raging in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, accused the government of Somalia’s outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo of exploiting the youths due to their unemployment and of duping some of them with promise that they will be recruited for Qatar’s army – a job all of them considered a well-paid opportunity and wished to obtain.
“When leaving here they were duped and were sold. The youths were sold! I have no other explanation,” the former president said, launching a blistering attack on the government for its failure to address the issue.
As he continued to speak further, the former president, who is now a vocal critic of the outgoing president, stressed that the secret way the youths were enlisted is a telltale sign of sinister intention by government officials to sell them and send them as cannon fodder in one of the deadliest conflicts in the Horn of Africa region’s recent history.
On Tuesday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in Eritrea confirmed that the Somali recruits were moved from Eritrean training camps and crossed into Ethiopia’s Tigray region to join the fight against the region’s former ruling party, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). In a report, he said the missing Somali soldiers “were present around the town of Aksum”.
Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea have all denied reports of Somali troops deployed as cannon fodder in Tigray region to take part in the war aimed at cleansing the region of Tigrayan rebels.
In January, Somaliguardian investigation uncovered facts involving hundreds of Somali soldiers deployed in Ethiopia’s Tigray region after completing military training, in yet the first report ever published by a media outlet covering the issue, though the Mogadishu-based federal government denied it as baseless.
The UN report corroborates Somaliguardian’s account and confirms that the Somali soldiers crossed the border into Ethiopia alongside Eritrean forces and were transported from military training camps immediately after fighting erupted in Tigray region in November of last year.
Since then, the government has been facing mounting pressure and calls for an explanation on the whereabouts of the still missing youths are growing. Families want to know whether their sons are alive or dead, but the government has brushed aside their demands.
Protests staged by parents demanding information from the government have been taking place in Mogadishu and other cities in Somalia over the past few months, though their calls fell on deaf ears and efforts to address their complaints have yet to gather pace.
Former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has added his voice to calls for a government explanation on the matter and urges former and current officials serving higher positions within the government to come forward and reveal facts involving the youths “sold” and sent to take part in the alarming human rights abuses in northern Ethiopia’s embattled region.
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