Mogadishu is recognised as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, where violent conflict between government troops and Al-Shabaab has persisted for many years. Since 1985, SOS Children have provided long-term family-based care for orphaned and abandoned children in our SOS Children’s Village in the city. We also run an SOS Hospital which provides medical care for 30,000 patients every year.
Caught in the middle of conflict, SOS Children’s projects in Mogadishu have been forced to close several times to ensure the safety of children, SOS mothers and staff. In 2011, the SOS Children’s Village became the front line of fighting between opposing groups. Unable to operate safely, both the Children’s Village and the nearby SOS Hospital were evacuated.
SOS families were moved to Garasballey, a suburb of Mogadishu City. We rented temporary shelters for the SOS families and young people, who lived there for six months. In December 2011, this area became increasingly dangerous, and the ten SOS families moved into two houses in the south of the city, deemed to be the safest part of Mogadishu at the time.
In October 2012, government forces pushed Al-Shabaab out of the city and the area around the SOS Children’s Village was accessible for the first time. Ahmed Mohamed Ibrahim, Director of SOS Children in Somalia, says: “Having closely assessed the situation, we are confident that our staff and families are safe in our facilities.”
Preparations could begin for SOS families to come home. Ravaged by the fighting, repair work on the family and youth houses took two months to complete. A specialist team inspected the properties to ensure that no explosive materials were left on the site by the army who occupied the Children’s Village during the fierce fighting in 2011.
On 22 December, buses bought the families back home. Children were delighted to return to their family houses after a turbulent 18 months. The SOS School also re-opened in December, which meant that they were able to continue their education immediately. The Director of SOS Children’s Village Mogadishu, Osman Shukri, says: “Life is back to the Village with children's voices.”
The SOS Hospital, which provides vital medical treatment for the local population, was able to re-open in October 2012 and is already saving the lives of children and families in the community. The hospital includes a Mother and Child Clinic which is the only functioning maternity ward and gynaecological care facility in the country.
SOS Children in Somalia
Despite the difficulties of operating in one of the world’s most dangerous cities, SOS Children has remained in Somalia. We are one of the very few NGOs to run a comprehensive social programme in the county. Even though our projects have been temporarily evacuated over the years, we continue to provide care for children and SOS mothers, as well as families in the community.
Find out more about our charity’s work in Somalia.