In attempt to win hearts & minds Somali Islamists open center for abandoned children
Mogadishu (Harar24) – In another step to win over the hearts and minds of the Somali public under their rule, the Al-Shabaab movement has opened a center for the caretaking and rehabilitation of young children wandering the streets in the Lower Shabelle region.
The children, all aged below 15, who number 25 in total were collected from the towns of Bulomarer and Barawe, where they were neglected and involved in work such as shoe polishing and car washing for meager earnings, and are now enrolled in the center, situated in the coastal town of Barawe.
The opening ceremony was attended by local elders, religious figures and senior Al-Shabaab leaders such as the Lower Shabelle governor, Abu Abdullah who said the center was also open for “rehabilitation” for the Somalia diaspora who were “corrupted by Western values”, on top of hosting the children, some who were orphans with others hailing from extremely poor families. This comes almost a year after the group opened a previous rehabilitation center for people suffering mentally.
Al-Shabaab, who despite having gained a reputation as violent jihadists, have at the same time are credited for having well-managed administrations in the territories under their control, which the International Crisis Group in their latest report described as “improving religious education and providing basic services”.