By Ambassador Veronique Lorenzo
The terror attack that the people of Mogadishu suffered on Saturday was a cowardly and barbaric act aimed to cause death and instill fear. I am sickened by the fact that over three hundred innocent people lost their lives prematurely and senselessly, that many more remain missing and that the current death toll is expected to rise.
An even greater number of people sustained injuries, many of which are so severe that they will be unable to return to their normal lives. Amongst the casualties and the wounded were children, young people, women and men. Entire families have been destroyed. No words can describe how shocked and appalled I have felt since Saturday afternoon.
Today, I visited the site of the explosion with the Mayor of Mogadishu and the Federal Minister of Planning. I wanted to witness the degree of devastation with my own eyes, and to pay tribute to the relentless and heroic work of so many Somalis who are volunteering to support their fellow citizens that were victim of the attack. In a display of endless solidarity and selflessness, they have been rescuing people trapped in the rubble, bringing the injured to hospital, donating blood or helping to organise funerals.
I was humbled to speak with young people helping to clear the site. They told me their stories; of the deafening noise of the explosion, unlike anything heard before in a city sadly accustomed to violence; of the shattering of windows caused by the shockwaves kilometres away; of the loss of friends and loved ones. To hear them and to see them in action shows the great resilience and qualities of a nation that does not and will not surrender its dignity and resolve to pursue its aspirations of peace and prosperity.
Today, while in the midst of an unprecedented tragedy, I witnessed the best of Somalia and of the Somali people. I felt uplifted by their unbending hopes for a better future; one where there is no place for violence, hatred and extremism. I have no doubt that the people of Mogadishu will recover from this heinous act, and I reinforce my already firm conviction that the European Union will stand hand‑in‑hand with the Somalis, the authorities and civil society in this endeavour.
In the immediate wake of the terror explosion, the European Union started to provide funding and medical supplies to organisations engaged in the evacuation of wounded people to the six hospitals – Sudanese, Medina, Keysaney, Mogadishu City, Alshifa and Kalbaal. This critical and swift support has enabled the deployment of medical teams and the provision of basic supplies such as dressing kits, medicines and trauma surgical kits to ensure a rapid and proper treatment of victims. This support from the European Union is on-going and will be provided for as long as it is needed. Beyond this immediate response, I also announced today our commitment to restore normality to the site of the explosion, and to strengthen the capacities of the authorities to deal with tragedies such as the one we are experiencing.
But if there is a message that has resonated loud and clear over the past days, it is the call of the Somali people to their leadership to enhance their efforts to work together in the fight against terrorism and to increase security. They have taken to the streets and demanded unity of purpose and statesmanship to guide Somalia out of the current political and security instability. The European Union is hopeful that this message of unity will be heard, and remains firm in its commitment to support the Somali leadership. Together, we must ensure that the gains of the past years are consolidated. Our work must continue to provide the peace and the prosperity that young Somalis so badly deserve.
The author is European Union Ambassador to Somalia