Difference between revisions of "Mogadishu"
Revision as of 11:24, 25 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 very basic, but the Turkish government has put up funds to renovate the airport and its security, control tower, and navigational systems. A few passenger flights are operating.
African Express Airways  has services between Mogadishu and Abu Dhabi, Aden, Berbera, Bosaso, Dubai, Galkayo, Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta, Riyan Mukalla, Sharjah, & Wajir.
Daallo Airlines  has services to Djibouti stopping en route at Hargeisa.
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.
Roads are a muddy mess during rain, traffic lights do not work, and there are no enforced traffic laws or public transport. The road network in Mogadishu is slowly being repaired and paved. A vehicle with driver and armed guards is a must! Break-ins at intersections are possible, so avoid openly displaying anything that could be considered valuable by a Somali. Better yet, hire an armored vehicle (with driver and 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.
While significant improvements have been made in the relatively short time period from August 2011 to the summer of 2012, the city remains very dangerous for independent travel. Petty theft and violent crime remains a significant threat in a city which has effectively been in a state of war for nearly two decades and full of unemployed people with few possessions. Any white person and most other foreigners are thus regarded as wealthy and a target for crime. Do not wander the streets alone for any reason!!!! If you must venture around the city, you should be accompanied by hired guards and ride in, preferably, an armored car. Smash & grab break-ins are possible in un-armored vehicles. With the security situation improved, there are likely to be new hotels opening...make sure yours has armed guards 24/7 and do not trust your valuables to be left in your room.
Basic services, such as water & electricity, are not reliable and you should not drink the water. Food and bottled drinks sold in the city may or may not be safe to consume. Try to get the advice of another foreigner who has been in the city a while. Health services are limited.