Somalia: Farmajo blamed for deployment of Somali soldiers in Tigray
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Hours after a report by the UN special rapporteur on the violation of human rights by Eritrea troops leaked, Somalia's outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has been accused of sanctioning deployment of trainee soldiers to the Tigray region, leading to the current anxiety.
In the report, the rapporteur confessed information about the participation of Somali soldiers training in Eritrea at the Tigray war, where most of them may have died according to multiple correspondences. The exact number of the soldiers is not yet known.
And Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, the leader of the Wadajir party, led critics in accusing Farmajo of sanctioning the deployment which he termed as "illegal". The opposition leader urged Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble to meet the parents of the young soldiers and give them proper reports.
Abdishakur also called on Farmajo to acknowledge that troops sent to Eritrea have been used in atrocities in Ethiopia's Tigray region. The government has persistently denied the claims despite evidence given in February this year.
In the Twitter Space debate conducted by the Garowe Online on Tuesday, a number of guests poked holes in the recruitment process while others blamed President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo for "engaging in clandestine deals" at the expense of poor youths.
Two former National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA] operatives also put to task Farmajo and the current NISA boss Fahad Yasin, accusing them of being architects of Eritrea training which was done in secrecy according to security experts.
"The public must speak out and pressure the outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and NISA boss Fahad Yasin to clarify the whereabouts of missing soldiers. This is a national issue and people must be held accountable," said Abdullahi Ali, a former NISA director.
"Parents who contacted me told me that they will stage protests in Mogadishu this week and asked for support in solidarity with them. They want their boys back," added Abdisalam Guled, who worked as Deputy NISA Director.
Abshir Ahmed, who has been a critic of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, maintained that he will turn out to the streets of Mogadishu in solidarity with the parents. He urged other politicians to do so for the sake of "saving" hundreds of youths training in Eritrea.
A few weeks ago, the parents also turned out in large numbers to demand answers from the government but they were dispersed by security agents. Thousands of young people are believed to be training in Eritrea without the knowledge of their parents.
"I call for this case to be brought to the international court so that such an issue does not occur again. Anyone involved in the recruitment of our youth and engagement in the Tigray war should be charged at the international court," noted Mursal Khalif, the Jubaland Planning Minister.
Excerpts of the report in possession of Garowe Online indicate that the UN found concrete evidence of Somali soldiers engaging in the Tigray war, noting that they were tagged along by those from Eritrea, whose presence in Tigray has triggered international retribution against Addis Ababa and Asmara.
Although the report doesn't give the exact number of the Somali soldiers operating in Tigray, it, however, states that they were moved from military camps and crossed over to Tigray. Further, the report notes, the troops were present during the Axum genocide that left hundreds dead.
Axum city is considered a holy shrine in northern Tigray in Ethiopia. Multiple reports published by various rights groups and international media revealed mass killings that targeted worshippers in the town in November last year, mostly innocent children and women.
"The Special Rapporteur has also received information and reports that Somali troops were moved from military training camps in Eritrea to the frontline in Tigray where they accompanied Eritrean troops as they crossed the Ethiopian border. It's also reported that Somali soldiers were around Axum," reads a section of the report.
The mass killing went on for three weeks and it's at this time information leaked about the presence of Somali and Eritrea soldiers in Tigray. At first, Ethiopia denied the reports only to admit the presence of Eritrea troops, who Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promised to withdraw, but he's yet to fulfill the pledge.
Apart from Axum, the soldiers were sighted in Mekele, the regional administrative capital of the Tigray region which would be captured months later. In Somalia, parents of the said soldiers thronged into streets demanding their whereabouts but the government assured them of their safety.
A few weeks ago, the parents returned to the streets of Mogadishu to ask for the progress of the training in Eritrea but were dispersed by security forces. Contradicting reports indicate that hundreds of Somali soldiers may have died in the war while others claim it's only two who died during training.
Although the Somali government denies these reports, the UN report acknowledges efforts by parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense committees which reportedly recommended to President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Eritrea over the matter.
"The Special Rapporteur was informed that the Foreign Affairs and defense committees of parliament have informed the Head of State to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Asmara for an investigation," the report, which will be released in coming weeks, notes.