Mass exodus from cities in Bakool & Gedo regions as Ethiopian forces draw closer
Mogadishu (Harar24) – Residents of several cities of the Bakool & Gedo regions are reported to have completely evacuated towns & cities in multitudes after the arrival of Ethiopian forces.
The Ethiopians have begun their planned offensive in central & southern parts of Somalia, however, the offensive may not exactly be going as planned and may rather come with a hefty price, namely the fleeing of people from their cities as soon as they hear that the Ethiopian forces are coming, and their recent activities in Rab-dhuure have left shock waves among residents of surrounding towns and regions.
The two towns of Wajid and Hudur, both located in the Bakool region, have seen a max exodus of residents, who have taken their belongings and cattle with them, especially in the city of Wajid which has become completely deserted.
This mass departure of residents was acknowledged by some members of the Somali government and has left them highly agitated and troubled. Whilst addressing some local media outlets the mayor of Wajid expressed his concern regarding the mass departure of residents from the city. “Al-Shabaab have brainwashed the residents for the past four years they were present in the city. They indoctrinated them with beliefs and ideas that has turned them anti-government and instilled into them the fear of Ethiopians, who are their neighbors. I call upon all residents of Wajid to return to their city, it is safe and they have nothing to fear.”
Ma’alin Ali Aden ‘Adow, a member of parliament, who spoke to BBC Somalia also expressed his concern over the recent evacuations from certain cities in Bakool. “Residents of Hudur have evacuated their town and abandoned it, out of fear of atrocities that may be committed by Ethiopian forces. I urge the Somali government to sympathize with the Somali people in those regions and to call the people to return to their cities.”
Similarly, Mohamed Abdi Kalil, the governor of the Gedo region, confirmed that after Somali forces arrived in Bur Dhubo that the city was completely empty, he claimed that this was due “to Al-Shabaab indoctrinating the residents for the past few years”.
This is not the first time Ethiopian forces have carried out offensives in southern & central parts of Somalia, in 2012 the Ethiopian forces captured the cities of Baidoa, Hudur, Beledweyne and ‘El Bur, where similar scenarios occurred, especially in the town of ‘El Bur which was completely evacuated by residents. However, this time taking such actions seem to be more common for people, this can be largely credited to Al-Shabaab’s newly employed strategy to rally residents living in their territories against the Ethiopians and to unify the people in this cause.
According to analysts, Al-Shabaab have their eyes set on guerrilla tactics , in which their aim is to minimize their expenditures in finance, ammunition and men, combined with the recent strategy of rallying people to their cause they expect carry out raids & shelling in the “citizen-free” towns, while at the same time ambushing the Ethiopian soldiers and cutting their supply lines. With such a strategy employed they anticipate to recreate similar scenarios to that of ‘El Bur in 2012 in which the Ethiopian forces were forced to leave the city after staying for only three months.
Many Somalis hold Ethiopia to be their archenemy, their hatred for Ethiopia was fuelled even more by atrocities that were committed by Ethiopia in previous occupations such as in Mogadishu were they raped and often killed indiscriminately.