Naciima Catoosh–As a senior public servant in Galmudug State of Somalia, I forward this letter to appeal for your immediate humanitarian action in devastated regions of Galmudug. I direct your attention to these forgotten towns; Qoryoweyn, Afbarwaaqo, Dhinowda, Ceel Dhanaane, Galhagoog and Jiray. I have visited each of these towns and I have heard the hearbreaking pleas from residents. To hear that no aid agency or federal official ever visited or provided service in these towns was shocking!
Decades of violent conflicts have left many Somalis traumatized and sought help and humanitarian assistance in neighbouring countries; and in many cases in distant lands. But majority of Somalis have remained inside Somalia and are seeking help within Somalia. Aid agencies are doing their best providing essential services in Somalia and most of these services seem to be concentrated in bigger cities.
Over 100,000 Galmudug residents do not have access to urgent medical care. Minor illnesses are endured and often become major. Major illnesses trigger backbreaking thousands of KMs journeys to Gaalkacyo or to Mogadishu. There are very limited paved road. There is one school. That school is taught by volunteers and has one room which serves primary and secondary levels. Students from different levels often seat in the same room. Students use cardboard seats.
Galmudug public servants are bereft of simple resources. Most of us work without salaries and without office seats. President Xaaf is busy lobbying and building Galmudug. Officials at the federal government are trying their best. But their best is not good enough and we need the attention of policy makers to see our plight. The federal government is serving Mogadishu residents reasonably well. We applaud that service and urge to extend the same service to Galmudug State and beyond. Frankly, we want to remind the federal government that its mandate is more than municipal.
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Our working relationship with the federal government needs to improve. Federal officials should establish weekly or biweekly teleconferences with counterparts at the regions. This is not to say the federal government is not engaged in Galmudug. It does. Security, sports, and finance sections are some of the areas where the federal government has made significant and visible progresses with the federal member states. Health and education sectors are essential for our survival and we need to address them now.
I call out the federal parliament, the federal government, the UN, the EU, the AU, the Arab League, the Hormuud Foundation, and other distinguished donors to engage with these forgotten people with utmost urgency. I invite you all to visit these towns and to witness the devastation and the total neglect. It is my hope that you will respond my call with sense of responsibility and with compassion.
Naciima Catoosh is the Minister of Health, Galmudug State of Somalia.