Somali men secretly sent to Eritrea military force: Eritrea is known to be one of the world's most secretive countries. When the officials from Somalia’s National Intelligence Agency arrived with $10,000 in cash Ali Jamac Dhoodi realised that his son had died in Eritrea.
Dhoodi, like many other parents in Somalia, were made to believe that their sons were being recruited by Somalia’s federal government for jobs in Qatar. But the truth was these young men were forced to serve in the military force of Eritrea against their will.
It was in last April that the official approached Dhoodi with cash as compensation for his dead son in Eritrea. He had thought that his son was working as a security guard in Qatar, helping prepare for next year’s soccer World Cup.
In a conversation with Reuters, the 48-year-old father said, " They showed me a picture from their WhatsApp and asked me, 'do you know this picture and his full name?' I said, 'yes he is my son.' They said to me ‘your son died’. I cried." After handing the money over, the officials had told him not to ask any questions.
The case of Dhoodi is not an isolated one. "We were all shocked to land in Eritrea. We thought we were being flown to Qatar," 21-year-old Sadam had told his father Hussein Warsame.
Warsame had believed that his son was recruited for a security job in Qatar in October 2019. But after more than a year, Sadam phoned from Eritrea. "Dad, there is no life here, I have not seen food save a lump or slice of bread since I left Somalia in 2019, and when recruits demonstrate or reject orders, a bullet is a reply," Warsame quoted his son.
What is happening in Eritrea?
There have been reports that Eritrean forces have taken part in the fighting that broke out in November last year in neighbouring northern Ethiopia. However, Eritrea and Ethiopia have strongly denied this.
But the Somalis believe that their young men are being secretly recruited in this fight. This apparent secret recruitment of young Somali men to Eritrea is waking up public anger in the country. Protests erupted last week in the capital Mogadishu and the towns of Guriel and Galkayo over the missing recruits. Somali government spokesman Mohamed Ibrahim affirmed that no Somalis had been sent to Ethiopia.
Picture credit: Reuters