Difference between revisions of "Mogadishu"
Revision as of 13:52, 5 July 2012
A devastating civil war has ruined this once beautiful city for almost twenty years now, leaving little but ruins left. Since 1991, various Islamist and/or clan or warlord-affiliated militias have had control over different parts of the city. A few months of relief were given in 2006 when the Union of Islamic courts took full control. Somalia was however invaded by Ethiopia just six months later and re-instated the western-backed Transitional Federal Government. The hard-line Islamist group Al-Shabab gradually took control over Mogadishu until the government only controlled a few square blocks. A counter-offensive, supported by large amounts of African Union troops cleared the city of militants in August 2011. Bombings and shootings are still commonplace but open warfare have for now ceased. A major shortage of food and thousands of refugees puts enormous stress on the few governmental offices that are able to function.
The book Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden gives a detailed and a very accurate description of the lawlessness in Mogadishu during the early years of civil war.
Flights once again arrive at Aden Adde International Airport just a few kilometers southwest of city centre, facilities are however very basic. A few passenger flights are operating. Jubba Airways  has services from Dubai, Jeddah, Nairobi, Djibouti, as well as domestically from Hargeisa and several other cities. East African  also operates a weekly service from Nairobi on Sundays, the return flight stops in Wajir for security processing before continuing on to Nairobi.
It is possible to drive into the city by truck, but this is considered a risky activity, unless you employ a group of local militia which are readily available for hire. Roads link the city with many Somali locales and with Kenya and Ethiopia. Armed guards, hired security forces, and experienced guides are all mandatory for a safe entry, and even then the risk of your being injured, killed or captured is extremely high.
Small cargo ships regularly leave from the Old Harbour of Mombasa for Mogadishu and sometimes Kismayo. Speak with the security officers at the gate of this tiny port and they will negotiate a fare with the captain. The journey will take 2-5 days, depending on conditions. The sea is rough in July-August, requiring lengthier travel. Arriving by boat is risky, as there is the strong possibility of being attacked by pirates, though the port area is relatively secure.
Mogadishu has had no effective government since 1991, which has left the transport network that was in place in disrepair. Roads are a muddy mess during rain, traffic lights do not work, and there are no enforced traffic laws or public transport. Roads may be blocked or closed with no notice by militiamen. Traffic drives on the right. Some reports say that to get through intersections near markets crowded with people, those wealthy enough to have vehicles fire machine guns into the air to clear a path. Safe travel through Mogadishu is only possible by convoy with heavily armed guides and guards, which actually can be hired quite easily. Even with guards, the likelihood of being injured, kidnapped, and/or killed is still very high, including potentially by said hirable guards.
The Mogadishu University is a non-governmental university that is governed by the Board of Trustees and the University Council. Admission requirements for the University as listed on their website include:
Original secondary school certificate plus one copy. Birth certificate. Certificate of good conduct. 12 photos (6 x 4) cm. Completed application form. Payment of the registration fee. Passing written and oral entrance examinations.
Benadir University was started in 2002 with the intention to train doctors but has expanded into other fields.
Most markets and especially the Bakaara Market are a focus of ongoing arms control efforts for the disarmament of Somalia. Marketplaces should be considered hazardous not only because of their content and the presence of some unsavory characters, but also because they have caught fire several times in the last few years.
International cuisine can be found at Nasa Hablod Restaurant inside Hotel Nasa Hablod and at the Sahafi Hotel. These are probably the safest options for travelers.
The safest way through Mogadishu is escorted by Ethiopian and official Somalian troops, or African Union peacekeeping forces; however, uniformed soldiers are a target for the militias and may come under attack. Independent travel is suicidal. Unpredictable armed conflicts among rival militias are prevalent in and around Mogadishu and can flare up with little or no warning. Lines of control in Mogadishu are unclear and frequently shift, making movement within the city extremely hazardous. When being escorted by armed security, it is best to be in an armored car. Infantry are highly likely to get engaged in street battles, and an armored vehicle can provide far better protection against most threats. A bullet proof vest is a must-have in Mogadishu. Again, the easiest way of staying safe is to not go unless vitally necessary. There is nothing funny, endearing, or cute, about Mogadishu. Except for the occasional moments when the loadspeakers dotted around the city will play popular pop songs from the last 20 years, which are played usually once every 2 or 3 hours. It is custom to dance in the streets and pick fights with local militia as they are passive during these short periods of musical euphoria, so make good use of this time. The second the music ends, stop, otherwise you may get grazed knees and elbows or a possible headache from the ensuing shootouts.
See also War zone safety.