Daily life in Mogadishu shrivels under violence
December 10, 2007
Daily life in Mogadishu shrivels under incessant violence. Water, electricity remain luxury in Somalia’s war-torn capital as most residents flee city.
The remaining Mogadishu residents, after most were driven out by the latest heavy fighting last month, eke out a living, making do with nearly nothing.
Despite efforts to spruce up the city, painting buldings -- at least those that have survived years of shelling -- and cleaning round about, garbage heaps make up much of city features while water and electricity remain a luxury.
Still, the endless fighting between the Ethiopia-backed Somali forces and insurgents has hampered plans to restore peace and return the seaside capital to its pre-war state.
Since the fall of central government in 1991, the city has been deprived of basic services such as water, electricity and public telephones.
Private electricity supplier Hirsi Omar has kept parts of the war-ruined Mogadishu lit, but many of his customers have fled the recurrent city battles without paying their bills.
Omar is among many businessmen who have set up power generators across the city and nearby villages, taking advantage of the inability of successive rulers to provide basic services.
"Because the city is quite big and the central government collapsed, we had to provide people with electricity. In every village now there is a provider," said Omar whose three giant generators supply 800 families with power.
For the 270 kilowatts per hour of electricity he produces, Omar charges his clients eight US cents per kilowatt.
"Our electricity is on 24 hours. We can bake our cakes and bread, but it is quite expensive even if we receive discounts," said Fatma Mayor Mohamed, a local resident.
Omar also provides water to around 1,000 families in the city, where water drawn from wells is sold in jerricans and transported in wooden hand-drawn carts.
With the onset of clanic wars, Hussein Nur Ali, 60, was forced to abandon his farming business and has resorted to selling well water across the city.
Ali said: "It is good enough to feed my family. Normally I have more that 20 good customers."
Residents also complain of high commodity prices compounded by the closure of the main Bakara market.
The fighting has killed hundreds of people this year and sparked a dire humanitarian crisis described by the United Nations as Africa's worst.
Nearly 200,000 people fled the war-wracked capital in the latest fighting in November, while at least 600,000 others have been displaced from Mogadishu since February.
Somalia's ailing president in UK for medical check, aide says
NAIROBI (AP)--Somalia's president has arrived in London for his annual medical checkup, nearly a week after he was hospitalized in Kenya with what doctors said was bronchitis, an aide said Monday.
Abdullahi Yusuf, 73, has had chronic health problems for years. He had a liver transplant in 1996.
"The president arrived in London last night. His health is fine," Abdirashid Sed, the president's special envoy in London, told The Associated Press by telephone Monday. He said Yusuf was in London for his annual checkup.
Questions about the president's health created more uncertainty for his country, which the United Nations says is facing the biggest humanitarian crisis in Africa. The government is battling an insurgency that has killed thousands of people this year.
Somalia hasn't had a functioning government since warlords overthrew a dictator in 1991, then turned on one another. Yusuf's government was formed in 2004 with the support of the U.N., but has struggled to assert any real control.
Last week, five Somali cabinet ministers resigned soon after they were appointed, saying their clan wasn't adequately represented in the prime minister's new government.
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