Hundreds of Somali parents have been camping in the streets of Mogadishu for the last two days, demanding the government tell them about the fate of their sons who were sent to Eritrea for military training.
The protesting parents said they have been unable to contact their children and that their whereabouts remain unknown since clashes between rebel forces and the Ethiopian military started in the northern Tigray region toward the end of 2020.
Abdishakur Kirie, the father of Somali recruit Afyare Abdi Ahmed, told Anadolu Agency that he used to talk to his son regularly, but now he cannot reach him. “I’ve not heard from him for a long time. We are protesting because we want to know how our loved ones are. We just need to know that they are safe. If the former intelligence official is wrong, then we need proof of their life.”
Abdisalan Yusuf Guled, the former deputy spy chief of Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency, last week claimed that over 370 Somali soldiers died in the Tigray conflict. Guled said the soldiers sent to Eritrea for training were redeployed to fight alongside the Ethiopian army, a claim shot down by the Somali government.
Abdullahi Bashir, another parent who does not know the whereabouts of his son, said: “The government should tell me about the fate of my child. If he died in the Tigray battle in Ethiopia, as we are being told, the government should tell us.”
“We are almost certain that our children were sent to the Ethiopia war. We want to know if they are alive or dead,” said Halima Sagal, a soldier’s mother.
Hundreds of Somali parents, whose sons and daughters have been missing since going to Eritrea for military training, took to the streets of the north-central Galkayo city on Wednesday, demanding the government find their children. People in other Somali cities are also protesting.
Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti also denied the claims, saying: “We have seen reports about Eritrean troops that have crossed into Ethiopia, we are also witnessing similar reports about Somali soldiers participating in the same campaign. Both of these claims are false and unfounded.”