Somalia Holds on to Hope a Year after worst Terrorist Attack
But for immediate former Mayor of Mogadishu and Governor of Benadir Region Thabit Abdi Mohamed, who led the massive mobilization efforts in response to the disaster, the city has emerged much stronger against the perpetrators of the heinous attack. “One year down the line, I feel we have come out stronger. For the first time, we realized that when we come together great things happen. The attack united the people like never before and through that unity, we faced the disaster together and came through,” recalls Thabit, who still wears his signature red armband that he began donning last year after the attack to remember the victims. “It’s true that many families are still experiencing the trauma and pain of losing their loved ones or caring for the injured but hope for better times ahead is still stronger than ever.”
SEE ALSO :Somalia's Al Shabaab executes five menThe former Mayor, who was relieved of his duties 3 months after the attack over political differences with the President, had passed the scene of the blast only 10 minutes before the attack, as he headed to his office just a few kilometers away. He was about to settle down to work when he was jolted by the powerful blasts. “I immediately went to the scene. I have never seen such a horror in my life. Burnt bodies and cars all over the place. Destroyed buildings. I felt helpless. I realized that this was a disaster we could not handle alone, given how weak and sometimes even non-existent our emergency services were at the time,” he says. His repeated and impassioned appeals for help on mass and social media brought out large numbers of people to lend a hand to the disaster response, working day and night to retrieve victims from the rubble, and to clear the debris blocking rescue operation in the key intersection. The city’s main hospitals were overwhelmed by the number of people who came to donate blood and had to turn away many people due to limited blood storage capacity. Meanwhile Somali nationals living within and outside the country responded quickly to appeals for donations to help the victims of the attack under the ‘Gurmad Qaran’ or ‘Save the Nation’ initiative, raising at millions of dollars. Neigbouring countries and the international community also rushed in with help including airlifting injured for specialized medical care.
“The Mayor of Mogadishu and his team should be allowed more say in the security matters and should be held accountable for it, since they are the ones on the ground. This will help in creating ownership and accountability for security,” he suggests.
“If this security function is devolved, what will happen will be the creation of smaller units including the creation of community policing. This will lead to ownership in the security sector. Other parts of Somalia that have implemented this model have succeeded in improving security- We need to have real accountability when it comes to security failures.”
“We cannot afford to downplay this incident since much blood was lost and unimaginable pain was felt by many of our people. Many families are still traumatized by the deaths, injuries and missing loved ones. This is a moment of our history that we cannot afford to forget,” he says.