Mogadishu – The United Nations has mobilized its staff members and resources in response to appeals from federal and government authorities to aid Somalis affected by last Saturday’s bomb blasts in the capital Mogadishu.
The UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has deployed technical advisors, medics and explosives-detecting dog teams at the site of the main bomb blast near the Safari Hotel since last Sunday. Fire unit personnel from UNSOM and the UN Support Office in Somalia have visited the bomb blast site and used specialized life-detection equipment in the search for survivors.
On Monday the UN children’s agency UNICEF delivered 3.8 metric tons of medical supplies to Mogadishu’s Medina Hospital and a newly established National Emergency Operations Centre. The supplies were donated by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. UNICEF also erected three large tents at the hospital’s premises that will be used by personnel for tracing relatives of patients undergoing treatment.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees also delivered tents, a generator and 1,000 non-food item kits to Medina Hospital and the operations centre earlier this week.
The UN World Health Organization donated three tons of medicines and other emergency relief supplies on Tuesday to support treatment of people who were wounded in the explosions.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has delivered radios to a local ambulance company and is planning to provide cash payments through the office of the Mogadishu mayor for hundreds of youths taking part in rubble-clearing operations at the main blast site.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is helping to coordinate the response of various UN humanitarian agencies and the massive donations of international partners in support of the recovery effort.
The Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Somalia, Raisedon Zenenga, said the UN family in Somalia was deeply saddened by the devastating attacks that killed over 300 civilians and injured more than 500.
Mr. Zenenga was among 137 UN staff members who have donated blood as of yesterday in response to an emergency appeal from local and government authorities. He noted that many hospitals in the city had been overwhelmed by the number of people wounded in the attacks and were running short of supplies.
“We have called upon our colleagues in the UN family to donate blood. At the same time, the entire UN family is also mobilizing in support for the response by the Federal Government and the local administration,” he said.
Mr. Zenenga said the UN is working closely with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to ensure they provide adequate support to federal and local government ministries and agencies.
“Our support as the UN family will partly go through AMISOM, including some equipment and medical supplies. We also have agencies such as UNDP that will provide support directly to the Banadir administration’s response,” Zenenga said.
The director of UNMAS Somalia, Alan Macdonald, noted the important role played by the agency’s sniffer dogs in the search for secondary explosive devices around the perimeter area of the main blast site.
“In the second day, the response changed, we have explosive detection dogs but we’ve also augmented that with combat engineering support where we are helping the AMISOM soldiers with heavy equipment for removing rubble at the site,” noted Mr. Macdonald.
Youths from local universities also joined the clean-up and rescue operation earlier this week.
More than 300 youth volunteers are participating in the effort and were accompanied by the Mogadishu Mayor, Thabit Abdi Mohamed, in clearing the debris and rubble.
“These people you see are youths who have responded to our call of uniting to help each other. They also have a rescue team among them,” said Mr. Mohamed.
The co-ordinator of the students, Muna Hassan, said they had five teams helping in the clean-up operation including a search and rescue unit.
The coordinator of the Somali Youth Emergency Team described the blast, which occurred in one of the busiest districts of the city, as a national disaster, adding that the number of casualties and the extent of property damage had prompted youths to volunteer for the search and rescue mission.
“They are self-organized youths who are out to find a solution to this disaster,” said Ms. Hassan.