MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Parents of missing Somali recruits sent to Eritrea for a military training said their sons are “beaten and tortured” after reports indicating the deployment of a number of youths in Ethiopia’s Tigray unleashed a political storm and fresh anger in Somalia.
Speaking to BBC Somali Service, Foos Hassan, a mother whose son has been missing since February 2020 after going to Eritrea, says the young recruit contacted her in January, nearly a year after he had gone missing and told her about torment and abuse he was enduring at the hands of Eritrean troops.
“He told me he was suffering greatly, beaten, tortured and fired on [by the Eritrean trainers]. He endured the greatest torment a human being could ever face and yet he can’t find a way out of the situation,” Fos Hassan told BBC Somali Service, as her son who is one of the last batches of recruits sent to Eritrea complained over horrendous living conditions at the training camp during his last phone call to the family.
Other parents said their sons were facing similar abuses and torture at the training camps. One of them is Saleban Ali, who says his brother and several of his nephews are given “four dry breads to eat [daily], they have no clothes and sleep rough in the open air without any shelter in poor weather conditions”.
He added that their lives were at risk as the young men endure suffering they have never imagined.
Some of the parents said the recruits and Eritrean troops clashed at one of the camps in September of last year after the young men mutinied over the harsh living conditions in a bloodletting that left many Somali youths dead, though they did not say how many were killed.
It comes after the United Nations said in a report last week that Somali soldiers were deployed in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and were participating in the war raging in northern Ethiopia’s embattled region.
Somali troops who had crossed alongside Eritrean forces into Ethiopia’s border at the onset of Tigray conflict “were present around Aksum”, UN special rapporteur for the human rights situation in Eritrea said.
The report sparked fresh protests staged by parents who are demanding government explanation on the whereabouts of the missing boys, though efforts to address their grievances have yet to gather pace.
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