Children and mothers from the SOS Children's Village Mogadishu were, on Sunday, moved out of the village for the own safety as the fighting around the SOS projects intensified. According to the regional director of SOS Children's Villages in East Africa, Wilhelm Huber, there has been fierce fighting and heavy shelling over the last two days in the area of the village and "in keeping with the Somali tradition of evacuating women and children from combat zones, we have moved our SOS families to safety".
Huber added that all the SOS mothers and aunties have insisted on keeping all of their children together as families. The children have been moved to family homes of relatives and friends in combat free zones and the youth, together with the youth leaders, have moved into temporary accommodation. All are in regular contact with the village authorities, (who remain in the village) who in turn, are communicating hourly with the regional office of SOS Children's Villages in Kenya.
The SOS Hermann Gmeiner School and SOS Kindergarten have been closed for three weeks because of the school holidays so teachers and pupils are not in the area.
Meanwhile the SOS Hospital has been taking in war wounded. However, most of the SOS medical personnel had already fled the hospital, which is in the direct path of the fighting and their safety had not been guaranteed. The wounded are being treated by other medical personnel who may be aligned to the fighters.
Wilhelm Huber emphasized that the SOS families will return to the village when the situation is more secure. "We believe that the current security situation surrounding our village is of short duration", he said, "and we hope that our families will be able to return to their homes soon. The families who are now harbouring us may someday become our guests if the scene of fighting ever shifts from our area to theirs." He concluded, "All of our co-workers, children and youth are to be commended for their bravery".
The situation in Mogadishu is being monitored continually and decisions will be informed by detailed information and assessments made jointly by co-workers on the ground and in the regional office.