March 23 2007
Fighting affects the SOS Children's Village Mogadishu
23/03/2007 - Fierce fighting in Mogadishu has affected the SOS Children's Village, but all children, mothers and co-workers are reported to be safe.
The SOS Children's Village Mogadishu was affected by the fierce fighting that broke out in Mogadishu on 21 March between insurgents and Ethiopian backed government troops, says project director Ahmed Ibrahim. Although the heaviest exchanges took place around the former department of defence headquarters, another gun battle later broke out in the northern Ramadan neighborhood and livestock market - an area close to the SOS Children's Villages projects. Four dead were reported and hundreds of residents, mainly women and children were seen fleeing the fighting.
Due to the proximity of the fighting, Ibrahim continued, services that SOS Children's Village offers to the Mogadishu community were affected. Stray bullets hit parts of the village but no damage has been reported and no one was injured. The children are being kept inside. Patients fled the hospital and medical staff was unable to report for duty due to insecurity and lack of public transport. The fighting has also prevented parents bringing their children to the SOS Kindergarten which temporarily closed. Like other Mogadishu residents, added Ibrahim, the children, mothers and other co-workers are frightened and demoralized as they see people fleeing their houses, and closing businesses and educational institutions in the area.
The fighting follows one of the bloodiest days in Mogadishu since the government and its Ethiopian allies took over the city from the Islamic Courts. Masked men dragged the corpses of two soldiers through the streets of the capital and set their bodies on fire during fierce battles. These masked men, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons were later seen in areas such as Pasta Factory, the livestock market and Ramadan neighborhood, all close to the village.
The area used to be a stronghold for the Islamic Courts movement that ruled Mogadishu and its environs for the last half of 2006, until the government and Ethiopian soldiers took the capital just before the New Year. Despite the fighting, the SOS Children's Village and its associated projects, the kindergarten, Hermann Gmeiner School and the hospital will continue to function as well as they can under the circumstances. Should the heavy fighting continue the SOS Hospital which has surgical facilities, is ready to treat any casualties.