UN defends advisory on Somali restaurant amid social media buzz

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Suicide bombers attacked the main peacekeeping base in Somalia's capital, killing at least three Somali security officers in January, 2017.

Somalia’s capital has seen frequent bomb attacks against the government and African Union bases. The assaults including some that targeted UN compounds have threatened this Horn of Africa nation’s attempts to rebuild from decades of chaos

By John Thiongo, john@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI – The United Nations has defended an advisory it issued against a Somali restaurant inside the heavily fortified Mogadishu airport which advised its staffers against using the eatery inside the facility.

In an internal memo obtained by Alleastafrica, the UN said that two previous car bomb attacks in July 2016 and January 2017 resulted “structural” damage to the Village restaurant, declaring it ‘out of bounds’  for its staffers, citing the impact that further possible VBIED attacks (outside the airport perimeter) could have on its staffers at the restaurant.

” The UN regularly puts out advisories to staff in regards to safety and security matters. Safety assessments are focused on ensuring the welfare of staff.” Cassandra Nelson, a spokeswoman for the United Nations in Somalia told Alleastafrica on Monday.

Ms. Cassandra has also denied reports by Somali media outlets that the advisory was issued in regards to business rivalry which sparked a social media buzz across Somalia and beyond.

” I have no knowledge of the business dealings that you refer to in our email, and I can assure you that UN security advice is in no way influenced by unconfirmed business rumors.” She said.

However, the businessman affected by the advisory accused the UN of siding with ‘rival white’ business people from Europe and South Africa of whom he alleged felt threatened by his business.

“This is all about business competition – and this was actually made in favor of white Italian and European business people who are feeling threatened by my booming business,” said Ahmed Jama, the owner of Village restaurants chain by phone from Mogadishu on Monday.

Nonetheless, Ms. Cassandra remained steadfast in defending the UN’s advisory, saying that UN staff has met with the restaurant management several times to perform assessments and management was advised of shortfalls observed.

“Noticeable efforts were made by the restaurant management to address some of the security issues that were brought to their attention; nevertheless, some are still outstanding.” She said.

“The security advisory is solely a recommendation to staff to ensure their safety, particularly in light of the approaching holiday period which has historically seen a rise in attacks in Mogadishu. Security advisories are issued as needed in light of the evolving security situation.” She affirmed.

Ahmed Jama at Village restaurant

But, Mr. Jama remains unconvinced by the UN’s decision, saying that it was meant to destroy his business which has grown amid chaos, with his restaurants came under militant attacks several times in recent years.

“They are trying to destroy my business under pretext of security – I came here to invest in my country, having left behind all my businesses back in the UK.” he complained.

In the meantime, Somalis across the world reacted with anger over the advisory by the UN, calling it to reconsider the decision against the only Somali eatery in the airport.

Somalia’s capital has seen frequent bomb attacks against the government and African Union bases. The assaults including some that targeted UN compounds have threatened this Horn of Africa nation’s attempts to rebuild from decades of chaos.

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1 COMMENT

  1. The restaurant is few meters away from where the UN boards from their planes. Directly opposite of parking lot of the UN air planes – if there is security issues in that building no were else is safe. So please leave this restaurant alone! !!

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