SOS families begin returning to the SOS Children's Village Mogadishu

After ten days of fierce fighting and a short, but serious, looting spree, northern Mogadishu, the location of the SOS Children's Village and the SOS Hospital, has returned to an uneasy calm, and the first two SOS families have relocated back to the village.

The children and mothers of the SOS Children's Village Mogadishu have started returning to their homes in the village. Two families moved in on Saturday and more are expected to relocate over the next couple of days.

The families were moved out last Sunday (22 April) following heavy shelling in and around the village combined with the approach of the allied government and Ethiopian forces, which were in pursuit of insurgents camped in the area of the village. The families were relocated to other areas of Mogadishu which were considered relatively safe.

On Wednesday, the SOS Hospital was hit by shells which destroyed one ward and on Thursday, as the allied forces got closer, the hospital was evacuated. The heaviest fighting in ten days took place around the SOS Children's Village and hospital as the allied forces chased the insurgents out of the city. The troops entered both the village and the hospital and after searching both areas and finding nothing of concern, left peacefully, but continued to camp close to the project in the area known as SOS Junction.

On Thursday and Friday looting took place in some businesses close to the village, but the village and the hospital were spared. By Sunday evening SOS Junction had been handed over to the control of the Mogadishu police as the government and Ethiopian forces withdrew.

Over the last two days the hospital has been cleaned up and is partly operational. In fact one woman gave birth there on Sunday morning attended by an SOS health worker.

The director of SOS Children's Villages in Somalia, Ahmed Ibrahim, hopes that the full complement of staff will be back very soon and the hospital will return to normal. He added that very little equipment was lost during the shelling of the hospital and nothing was lost in the village, although some teachers' houses and the football pitch were damaged by shells. By Tuesday evening, he said, if all goes according to plan, all the families should be settled back into the family houses.