Pressure Mounts on Somalia’s Government Over Soldiers Sent to Ethiopia’s Tigray

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – There has been growing pressure on the government of Somalia’s outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, whose administration sent thousands of soldiers to Ethiopia’s Tigray region to fight alongside Eritrean and Ethiopian troops there after completing training in Eritrea.

On Tuesday, UN Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in Eritrea said Somali recruits had been moved from military training camps in Eritrea and were used as cannon fodder in Ethiopia’s Tigray war.

It comes after more than a year the recruits have been missing with their parents still demanding an explanation by the government on their whereabouts, though Farmajo’s administration still denies reports of troops deployed in Ethiopia’s conflict as baseless.

Somaliguardian was the first media to uncover the story of hundreds of Somali recruits sent to fight in Tigray region soon after Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a large-scale offensive to topple the region’s former ruling party, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), though the write-up was later denied by the government as groundless.

The UN report corroborated Somaliguardian’s account that the Somali soldiers crossed the Ethiopian border alongside thousands of Eritrean troops soon after what Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed billed as a “law enforcement” operation swung into action in northern Ethiopia.

It said the missing Somali soldiers “were present around Aksum” but did not give an estimate of their number.

This could implicate Somalia’s federal government in human rights atrocities committed in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and moreover, has stirred local agitation with popular local politicians calling on parents of missing sons to file a lawsuit in search for an information on where the recruits are.

Deputy leader of Somalia’s Senate Abshir Bukhari said on Tuesday he would file a lawsuit and would lead a campaign aimed at pushing the government to provide an immediate explanation after the UN report sent shock waves across the country.

He urged parents of missing recruits to follow legal paths in which Farmajo’s administration could be forced to provide an information on the whereabouts of the soldiers it had deployed in the war raging in Ethiopia’s Tigray.

Analysts say the report may further tarnish the embattled Somali president’s image, who during his four year reign, faced a number of unprecedented scandals. He has been growing unpopular over the past weeks since he chose to roll back an illegal extension of term in office, bowing to international pressure after his supporters and a faction of the army opposing his decision clashed in the capital Mogadishu in April.

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