Al-Shabaab opens psychiatric hospital
Al-Shabaab has become a name many a times associated with bombings, kidnappings, amputations and assassinations. However the Al-Shabaab movement, a designated terrorist group by many Western governments, opened a psychiatric hospital last Sunday. The hospital was opened up in the city of Barawe in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia, which according to Al-Shabaab accommodates to people with mental disorders who were rounded up from different in cities in the Lower Shabelle region, including Bulomarer, Qoryole and Barawe.
The Al-Shabaab leader of the region known as Abu Abdullah attended the opening ceremony of the hospital and said that the Al-Shabaab administration in the area decided to open up the facility after looking into the situation of those mentally disturbed and the problems they were facing, he said: “Our brothers were facing many problems, including but not limited to, having no shelter or sufficient food, they would be exposed to children pelting them with stones and nobody would look after them.”
An estimate by WHO suggests that that a third of the Somali population suffer from mental disorders, a disputable figure, however the fact remains that there are many Somalis who suffer from mental disorders. Recently journalist Jamal Osman discussed the sufferings of Somalis who suffer from mental disorders in short film titled “Life in chains: the plight of Somalia’s mentally ill”.
The average Somali may not make a lot of money a month, and whatever money is made must be spent on food and bills. This forces many Somalis to resort to dangerous methods of supposed “healing”, such as exposing the patient to a hyena, which is believe to eat the evil demons possessing the patient.
Al-Shabaab is not only fighting a war of bullets and bombs, but also a battle for the hearts and minds of the Somali population, this led to Al-Shabaab opening many facilities for the public. And on Sunday we witnessed the grand opening of perhaps the first psychiatric hospital in the Shabelle region, which was opened surprisingly by Al-Shabaab.
The hospital boasts of having a section for treatment and medicine, a section for sleeping, a canteen and section for religious incantations and herbal treatment. The opening ceremony was attended by religious and notable figures and business men from Barawe.
Below are some pictures from the opening ceremony.