Mogadishu — On return from a pastoral visit to Mogadishu, Somalia recently, Bishop Giorgio Bertin of the Diocese of Djibouti and Apostolic Administrator of Mogadishu, Somalia, says that he found concrete signs of hope even if the new state institutions are not yet in full control of the situation.
Fides Agency reports Bishop Bertin as further saying, “I went back to Mogadishu after 6 years of absence…I visited the old town, the Medina area and that towards about five, six or seven kilometers and the thing that struck me most is the absence of checkpoints of the various militias,” says Bishop Bertin.
“….I therefore had the impression of a city no longer divided but unified. Another thing that struck me is that one does not hear many shootings, apart from a couple of gunshots. I saw several entrepreneurs who are trying to rebuild and refurbish buildings. These are all signs of hope,” says Bishop Bertin.
My visit, he further says, had several purposes.
“On the one hand to check the humanitarian situation,” says Bishop Bertin, adding that, “These days Caritas Somalia has managed to maintain its activities through local partners….One of these relates to the camps of internally displaced persons.”
“These are either Mogadishu residents who lost their homes due to the war, or, and they are the majority of cases, people coming from inside due to insecurity or because of the drought,” explains Bishop Bertin, who travelled to Somalia with Sara Fumagalli, coordinator of “Humanitarian Padania”, which has already established small aid programs and intends to try to open a humanitarian corridor to send hospital equipment.
“Humanitarian work is, however, difficult. Despite the improved weather conditions, it is difficult to imagine a short return of displaced persons in rural areas, because these are still in the hands of the Al-Shabaab,” says Bishop Bertin
“Another aim was to check the status of the cathedral which is occupied by a group of displaced people. The building condition is terrible and we will see what we can do to recover it,” says Bishop Bertin.
“Finally we had meetings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that of Social Affairs, to start an agreement on the opening of our presence in a more direct way, including the reopening of a place of worship,” says Bishop Bertin.
Despite the difficulties Bishop Bertin does not give up and concludes, “I intend to come back soon to meet either the President or the Prime Minister or the Minister of Foreign Affairs to continue this negotiations.”