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Ending of 40-year clan warfare brings families together in central Somalia

Wednesday August 19, 2020

The ending of a 40-year-old clan conflict in central Somalia has enabled the road linking two formerly hostile areas to reopen and family members to meet for the first time in their lives.

Adiqafaar Mahmud Yusuf, a 28-year-old resident of Galdogob district, said he could now meet some of his relatives in Bandiradley, including his uncles, for the first time.

“It was painful for us not to be able to visit our family members in other regions of Mudug and I kept asking my father how we could visit them, as it’s absurd not to be allowed to see a relative who is in this world just because of insecurity,” he said. “Now it is easy to travel freely to anywhere in Mudug even at night.”

The reopening of the road between Galdogob and Bandiradley was one of the measures resulting from the signing of a peace agreement between the two sides. Pastoralists from both towns have started to cooperate in sharing joint grazing land for their livestock.

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Sultan Abdikariin Suldan Mohamed Mahmud, one of the party mediators and signatory to the peace agreement, told Radio Ergo the two clans had held two conferences in June and July in Bandiradley and Galdogob. A joint force was formed and pastoralists from the warring sides had been disarmed.

“People are moving freely on the road linking the two communities and we would like to see the road built and upgraded to modern standards. The people are at peace and there is strong cohesion among them, they trust each other,” he said.

“I really worked on this peace initiative and thank God it’s a success and people have benefited from it. People in the rural and in the urban centres now hold talks and jointly agree to arrest any culprit.”

Whilst previous peace talks have collapsed, it is hoped that this deal is transparent and binding to the two warring communities. An Islamic court is to be established to deal with offenders.

“People have opened their eyes and realised this is high priority and whoever kills shall also be killed,” the sultan said. “Just laws have been formulated in close collaboration with religious scholars, the youth, professionals and even courts.”

Compensation amounting to $10,000 was paid out to those whose fathers were killed and a further $260,000 was given to the families who lost their loved ones in the inter-communal conflict.

Adikarin Dahir Mohamed, a poet, lost his father when he was just two years old.

“We have witnessed conflict, we know what it entails, we have been through it. I lost my dad, my uncles and family members and God has instructed us to forgive each other,” he declared.

He has been writing poetry about peace to educate the public about the problems created by clan conflict. “We should never ever go back to warfare again,” he said.

Youth from both sides jointly buried the AK47 rifle, which signifies violence, and planted trees of peace in Galdogob and Bandiradley. Delegates travelled through the conflict-stricken areas to deliver the message of peace.

Abdidahir Mohamed Ali, a nomadic pastoralist living in Dalsan village, 42 km south of Galdogob, said his camels had been returned.

“Missing animals are being returned and people are now talking openly to each other about problems like grazing rights. Each day we are seeing increased cooperation and understanding. Eighty per cent of the people now understand that guns are not the solution. Anyone spotted with a gun is asked why he is violating the peace deal now the conflict is over,” he said.

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