Parents whose sons are still stranded in Eritrea after being taken to military training by the Somali government five years ago staged a protest in Mogadishu on Saturday, calling on Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to repatriate them.
Speaking to the media, the parents accused President Mohamud of failing to deliver on his promise to return the soldiers back home, saying that their sons are facing hardships, with some losing their hearing and sight.
President Mohamud’s government earlier returned hundreds of soldiers to Mogadishu but did not disclose the number of those still remaining in Eritrean training camps.
The Somali government has been working to rebuild its military, which was disbanded in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Siad Barre regime. The government has been recruiting and training new soldiers, and it has also been sending soldiers for training abroad.
The training program in Eritrea has been controversial, with reports of soldiers being subjected to harsh conditions and mistreatment.
The Somali government has defended the training program, saying that it is necessary to build a strong and capable military to defend the country against the threat posed by al-Shabaab, a militant group that has been conducting a violent insurgency in Somalia for over a decade.
The parents of the stranded soldiers have been calling on the government to repatriate their sons for years, and their protest in Mogadishu is the latest in a series of demonstrations that have taken place in the capital and other parts of the country. The parents say that they have not heard from their sons in years and that they are worried about their safety and well-being.
The Somali government has not commented on the protest, but it has previously said that it is working to repatriate the soldiers. The government has also said that it is providing support to the families of the soldiers and that it is committed to ensuring their safe return.
The issue of the stranded soldiers highlights the challenges facing the Somali government as it seeks to rebuild its military and confront the threat posed by al-Shabaab. The government has made progress in recent years, but it still faces significant obstacles, including a lack of resources, corruption, and political instability.