Somalia – Social Media Silence on Bombing

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In the wake of the worst terrorist attack to hit the country in recent years, ‘Pray for Mogadishu’ is not trending, but Somalis are mobilising.

After the deadly attacks on October 14th in Mogadishu, which claimed at least 281 lives, some social media users have been asking where the solidarity for Somalia is, and why there are no trending hashtags like those which have emerged after attacks in the US and Europe.

“If what happened in #Mogadishu had happened in Milan or Milwaukee or Middlesbrough we wouldn’t still be talking about Harvey Weinstein…” wrote @innajongee in a tweet on the 17th.

The truck bomb was the deadliest terror attack in Somalia since the Islamist al-Shabaab group launched its insurgency in 2007. Some bodies were burnt beyond recognition.

By the early hours of October 18th, the hashtag #IAmMogadishu had generated little over 200 tweets, but by the 19th there were more than 13,000 as social media users expressed their frustration over the lack of media attention the attacks were given.

A number of vigils have been organised by Somali communities across the UK and US.

Despite the perceived lack of Western solidarity with Mogadishu on social platforms, Somalis themselves have been using the power of social media to mobilise support for charity efforts.

Gurmad252 is a website established by volunteers and the families of the victims to track and identify the missing on social media.

A GoFundMe page was also set up by a Swedish Somali for funds to pay for a free ambulance service to help the affected. It has already reached its initial target of 100,000 Swedish krona (£9,351, $12,334).

aidUS Airmen from the 449th Air Expeditionary Group load pallets of aid supplies at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti – Africom

Many have also used the hashtags #weareone and #gurmadqaran to share details of charitable efforts, but the task of raising awareness on the internet is not easy in a country which was one of the last in the world to go online and where internet usage is still relatively low. (BBC Africa 17/10)

The Somali government said on October 18th that search and rescue operations had ended, three days after the massive explosion killed hundreds of people at a busy intersection in Mogadishu.

Official casualty figures stand at 281 dead and more than 300 wounded, but the death toll could still rise, Information Minister Abdurrahman Omar Osman said on the 17th.

Government officials blame militant group al-Shabaab for the explosion, although there has been no claim of responsibility.

Mogadishu’s mayor, Tabit Abdi Mohamed, who spoke at the blast site, praised hundreds of volunteers who have helped rescue survivors from the debris and also cleaned up the rubble.

International aid from the US, Kenya, Turkey and others continued pouring into Mogadishu on the 17th as hospitals tried to care for the hundreds of wounded. (VOA 18/10)

 

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

SOMALIA: AU Renews Amisom Mandate
Political, Social and Cultural series
Vol., Issue 8, pp. 21551C–21553A

SOMALIA: Joint Air Strikes Against Al-Shabaab
Political, Social and Cultural series
Vol. 54, Issue 7, pp. 21516B–21517B

SOMALIA: Al-Shabaab Forces Target Youth
Political, Social and Cultural series
Vol. 54, Issue 1, pp. 21298B–21300A

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