Mogadishu security in Sept?

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Mogadishu security in Sept?

Postby DCtoMogadishu » Wed Aug 17, 2016 11:12 pm

Hi guys,
Anyone have recent experience in Mogadishu?

I work on Pakistan-Afghanistan stuff for a medium-sized organization that probably about half of you have heard of. Because of some other skills I have, The Powers That Be have asked me to spend a month contributing to a special project our Somalia folks are doing. This includes a 72-hour stay in Mogadishu in early-September. Going over there will play well for me career-wise, but I can opt-out of the travel if I want.
I've been to Pakistan and Afghanistan several times, but I know those countries pretty well. I'm more concerned about this one because I don't know enough about Somalia to make a reasonable judgement on my own. I'd be going with two Somali expats who have been living in the West for 10+ years each and who have reassured me about the trip. But they have some enemies in Somalia, and I think they may have also over-sold this project, so I'm wondering if their desire to have me there and their time abroad might be coloring their assessment of my security. (I'm a mid 30s white American man with no kids and few relatives.)

My hunch is that this is probably a bad idea that I can get away with because of the short duration. I'm looking at 1-2 longish days at a Somali govt office, with the rest of the time at a highly secured hotel about 4kms away that has been targeted in the past. Our Mogadishu-based contract staff has arranged for guards and armored cars. As much as I'd love to sightsee, I'm not even thinking about it.

Any thoughts? Are there many Western business travelers in Mogadishu these days?
Thanks!

(I've been lurking here and posting occasionally, but I'm using a throwaway account since I'm questioning my colleagues judgement.)
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Re: Mogadishu security in Sept?

Postby Q » Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:21 pm

Is this a joke post?


I really hope so.
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Re: Mogadishu security in Sept?

Postby DCtoMogadishu » Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:17 pm

Q wrote:Is this a joke post?


I really hope so.


Haha, I figured someone would ask, but no--I'm serious. And honestly, I don't think it's that dumb of a question. Put another way, I would be making a very short but admittedly avoidable visit to Somalia with a fairly major organization that mostly seems to be doing this the right way. But I'm not sold because 1) it's Somalia, and 2) I worry that our team's security assessment might be overly optimistic. I have experience in "dangerous places," but not this region, so I'm asking here.
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Re: Mogadishu security in Sept?

Postby Q » Thu Aug 18, 2016 5:39 pm

"Mostly seems to be doing it the right way", but willing to send you in with "guides" who haven't been in country for 10 years? Not to mention "have enemies", per you?

Seriously....1)who the fuck runs your HR, and 2)how the fuck have you survived this long?

The very fact that you're even considering this......it's like retard level.


You'll be in good company here. Welcome.
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Re: Mogadishu security in Sept?

Postby DCtoMogadishu » Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:03 pm

Haha, we have issues, for sure, but then again most office do. But then again again, most offices aren't shipping people off to Somalia.

I'm leaning pretty strongly against going at this point, but I'd still love to hear from others.
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Re: Mogadishu security in Sept?

Postby Q » Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:17 pm

DCtoMogadishu wrote:Haha, we have issues, for sure, but then again most office do. But then again again, most offices aren't shipping people off to Somalia.

I'm leaning pretty strongly against going at this point, but I'd still love to hear from others.



Are you currently based in DC?

If so, there's an 8/10 chance my last gig involved training up people from your org.
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Re: Mogadishu security in Sept?

Postby DCtoMogadishu » Fri Aug 19, 2016 5:37 pm

Q wrote:Are you currently based in DC?

If so, there's an 8/10 chance my last gig involved training up people from your org.


I am, and it's possible.
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Re: Mogadishu security in Sept?

Postby DCtoMogadishu » Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:35 am

Replying to my own post in case it helps anyone else. I went, I'm back, I lived. The project hit a few bumps (technical, not security related), but it went ok overall. I'll paste some of what I wrote I wrote on another forum that helped me out, but I'll add in some details that I think might be more relevant here on BFC.

High points: The weather was perfect. The food was fine. The people I met were friendly. I got a decent tour of the city driving between the hotel and my work site. My company loves me for going, and probably loves me even more for staying way under-budget (this isn't a place to cut corners, and I certainly wasn't penny-pinching, but prices seem to have come down). And the biggest high point: I was incredibly impressed by the optimism almost everyone expressed. Somalia has been through so much, and it's refreshing to see that so many people have found the strength to put the past behind them as much as possible and look forward to beginning the next chapter. The optimism seems genuine.

Low points: The security situation does seem to have deteriorated over the past month. I'm not sure if things are bad enough to call it a pre-election offensive, but it's close. I knew that my movements would be limited, but unfortunately the recent attacks limited things even further. This was a business trip, and I was there to work, but I was hoping to find at least 10 minutes or so to at least see Liido Beach or the market from the ground. After the SYL blast, I didn't feel comfortable doing that. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this (especially here), but my feet never touched soil that was not in either the airport complex, a government building, or an armored car.

My guides were diaspora Somalis who are very well-connected but a bit prominent. That prominence limited my mobility more than it would have if I went with more under-the-radar people. Not that I would have had much more mobility anyway. One of the employees at my hotel was a foreigner, and he told me that he has been in Mogadishu for 6 years, and he has only made one trip outside of the airport compound in that time. The same hotel employee mentioned that Western news reporters stay at his hotel pretty frequently. From what I can tell, that's parachute journalism at its parachute-iest, but you gotta do what you gotta go. My hotel was inside the airport compound, which is essentially the green zone of Mogadishu. There are a handful of places in this area that have rooms available. A couple of these places have some kind of minor web presence, but most don't. Some info re lodging in an old article on RYP's Somalia Report website is still current-ish. There are a few hotels and guest houses in the city itself, but hotels have been targeted pretty frequently. I researched accommodations pretty thoroughly, and there was only one hotel and one or two guest houses in the city that I thought were safe enough to even consider. So I considered those 2-3 places in the city, but ultimately decided to stay inside the airport complex. I'm absolutely confident that was the right decision.

There is a visible security presence in Mogadishu, and it seems to be working. However--and I am certainly no expert in security here--I wasn't all that impressed. Compared to other DPs I've seen, security seemed more reactionary and less thorough, at least in ways that are visible. The fact that there isn't more violence tells me that either my assessment is overly pessimistic or that Shabaab is now small enough that Mogadishu can survive with things the way they are.
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Re: Mogadishu security in Sept?

Postby Thomas.. » Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:44 pm

Thanks for sharing. Good stuff.
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