The SOS Children's Village Mogadishu was under siege yesterday when four missile shells exploded in the project grounds during heavy fighting around the village. Two of the shells landed on the deserted football pitch, a third destroyed part of the wall between the school and the football pitch and a fourth landed in the teachers' houses. Fortunately the school is closed for the holidays and the teachers are away. Thus no one was injured.
During the fighting, children and staff of the village retreated to a safe haven: an unused building that is now heavily reinforced with concrete.
According to project director Claudio Croce, stray bullets from nearby gunfire also landed in the compound. Because of the fighting, staff who live outside the compound are not able to come to work. This is also affecting the hospital, which is still open, but due to a shortage of medical personnel is not fully functional.
Croce added that the situation in Mogadishu is chaotic. Besides the fighting between the transitional government, backed by Ethiopian forces and former elements of the Islamic Courts, clan warfare has also broken out and many of the people from these clans live in the vicinity of the village. He likened the situation to the beginnings of a guerrilla war.
Meanwhile, the SOS Children's Village is fully operational and contingency plans remain in place to protect the 82 children, 13 youth and approximately 30 co-workers who live in the village.