Protest over Missing Recruits Erupts in Somalia’s Capital


MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Protest staged by parents, whose sons have been missing since going to Eritrea for a military training, again erupted in Somalia’s Mogadishu on Sunday during which families urged authorities in the Horn of Africa nation to provide information on the whereabouts of the missing youths.

It came weeks after the United States confirmed that Somali soldiers had been deployed in the Ethiopia’s Tigray region where the forces of Abiy Ahmed’s government bolstered by Eritrean troops and Amhara militias were battling Tigrayan rebels.

The United Nations said in a report last month that the recruits had been moved from Eritrean training camps at the onset of the Tigray conflict to fight alongside allied forces in push to oust the region’s ruling party and take over its administrative capital, Mekelle, in what the Ethiopian prime minister billed as a “law enforcement” operation.

Police earlier prevented families of the missing boys from holding protests in the city or speaking to media, in what the parents said was an effort to silence them and stop them from seeking information on whether their sons are alive or dead.

The parents criticized the current prime minister Mohamed Hussein Roble – who had appointed a committee to probe the missing youths which later stopped working, bowing to pressure from the incumbent president and his intelligence chief – for turning a blind eye to the growing calls for a thorough investigation into the matter.

Protesters were chanting slogans against the current acting president, under whose orders – they say – the youths had been trained and deployed in an active conflict zone far away from their country’s borders.

A young man, who said he had escaped an Eritrean camp and described horrific living conditions at the training facilities, has been killed in the town of Afgoye, some 30km from the capital Mogadishu shortly after returning home earlier this month.

Somalia’s leaders have been facing pressure over the past months about the missing boys’ saga, but have so far remained silent on whether the youths used as cannon fodder in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict are still alive or dead.

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