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According to government officials, the clean-up campaign kicked off on Friday in Yaqshid district in northern Mogadishu, just a few days after the militant group al-Shabaab pulled out of its key strongholds in the city. The district was one of the main bases for the Islamist group.
Authorities say the cleaning program involves sweeping and clearing waste materials off the streets of Mogadishu, and followed the al-Shabaab’s withdrawal from the city a week ago. They said the campaign was expected to reach other districts and villages in the Banadir region, where government soldiers and AMISOM peace keeping forces have since taken control after ousting the al-Qaeda-linked militants.
The Chairman of Yaqshid district in Mogadishu, Muhiyadiin Hassan Jurus, who took part in the cleaning activity, said the initiative was voluntary.
“We are all gathered here today to take part in the cleaning campaign. The people of this district have come together with one aim - to clean up the streets and government buildings in this area,” he said. He said the operation, which commenced at the headquarters of the Yaqshid district, will reach all the other villages and different parts in the district.
Speaking at the same venue, Colonel Mohamed Mohamud Yalahow, commander of the Yaqshid police station, applauded the residents and urged them to carry on with the same spirit of hard work and cooperation. “I applaud the residents of this district for showing their support towards their government and trying to create a clean, stable and peaceful Mogadishu,” he said.
He praised the residents for working tirelessly with the government soldiers and AMISOM peacekeeping forces to maintain and control the security of the region and Mogadishu as a whole.
“The security and the controlling of our stability is a general duty upon us, so allow me to urge you all in this district to respect the law and order,” Colonel Yalahow said.
Some of the community elders, who spoke at the venue, said that the operation was well-organized and urged them to carry on with similar activities that would help reclaim the beauty of the Somali capital. They have appealed to the TFG soldiers to tighten up security and ensure safety on the streets and around the government buildings.
“We want from the commanders of the AMISOM peacekeeping forces and the soldiers from the transitional federal government to ensure that everyone is safe, clear any explosive devices lying on the streets,” one of the elders said
They added that the explosive materials on the streets of Mogadishu resembled stones in the sand, and that they explode anytime.
Halima Abdullahi, a mother of 6, took part in the cleaning exercise in Yaqshid district. She said that her group was working voluntarily to boost the appearance of the district through sanitation campaigns to promote hygiene among citizens.
“We are ready to restore our dignity and unity among all the people in the district, and we have started off by sweeping the streets and government buildings,” she said.
Visiting Mogadishu for the first time, one will come across a crowded scene of collapsed buildings and streets that have been destroyed over the years due to the long standing civil war. There are sights of vacated homes and villages in all the districts within the city a clear testimony of the state of the conflict and unrest.
Another important feature that stands out in Mogadishu is a small weed plant, commonly known to the local people as 'Ali Garob’. This weed plant is almost everywhere all over the city. It has survived through times of prolonged droughts. Mustafe Dalmar, a Somali teenager, says he is happy to be involved in the cleaning initiative. “As a young Somali, I would like to contribute to the clean-up and even take part in reconstruction works of the main streets and government buildings in our district,” he said, adding that he wanted to get rid of the weed plants around the city, especially in Mogadishu Stadium where Somali youngsters frequent to play soccer.
Officials said Yaqshid district, where the campaign started, is home to some of the capital’s important landmarks, including Mogadishu Stadium, Somali National Television and various institutions, such as schools and hospitals. Some of the famous hotels in Mogadishu are also located here.
However, there are certain fears about the clean-up operations. Residents are worried over coming into contact with explosive materials left behind by the al-Shabaab group. In recent years, explosive devices have claimed more than 30 lives, mostly women, while performing clean-up activities on the main streets of Mogadishu.