Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Battered Somali Capital Tries to Restore Normalcy Mosaic of Images Tells a Story of Hunger, Lawlessness, and Resilience. REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Battered Somali Capital Tries to Restore Normalcy Mosaic of Images Tells a Story of Hunger, Lawlessness, and Resilience. REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK

Article excerpt

JUST across the street from a UNICEF office here in Somalia's once-lovely seaside capital, a man sets up a typewriter on a table, preparing to hire out his secretarial skills.

Minibuses, many of them windowless and overflowing with passengers, speed by.

Crowds of men, women, and children bustle through outdoor markets. They look over the kiosks and sidewalk stands offering a variety of goods - everything from walkie-talkies to plumbing pipes, mostly items looted during the past 21 months of anarchy and war.

Mogadishu strikes this visitor with contrasting images: revival and war rubble; healthy children and starvation; hope and despair.

Rebels overthrew dictator Mohammed Siad Barre here in January 1991, then fell into fighting among themselves. Two rival warlords, each claiming to be the legitimate new head of state, turned the capital into their battle ground. Between November and March more than 30,000 people were killed.

Meanwhile, drought and anarchy gripped the rest of the country, putting almost half of Somalia's 4.5 million people at risk of starvation.

Mogadishu is relatively peaceful now, although gunfire between armed looters forced relief officials on Tuesday to halt food airlifts temporarily. Most people look reasonably healthy. Feeding centers for children here are no longer dominated by the dying. More often it is the happy noise of recovering children, talking and shouting, which greets the visitor.

Structurally, most of Mogadishu has survived. Most of the buildings are still standing, but many homes and shops bear the scars of war - bullet holes and shattered door frames. Some sections of town have been reduced to rubble.

The international relief community has become the biggest employer in the country - hiring guards, manual laborers, and skilled staff. Organizations have set up the only telephones (via satellite) and electricity (by generator) in the city. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.