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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 1/26/13

Somali foreign missions are in failure and neglect

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In my pervious article titled 'Somali Government's Foreign Missions needs to be Clean Up', I mentioned the unprofessional appointments that have been made involving unqualified elements in the Somali embassies abroad, which is supposed to be responsible for projecting the good image of the government and the nation abroad, as well as the integrity of the government.

The Somali foreign embassies are in disaster and neglect: Sloppiness and inefficiencies, especially, the Middle East and African embassies and the UN mission top it all. Everyone realizes the unprofessional attitudes on the part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during both Abdiqasim Salad Hassan, Abdullahi Yusuf', and then Skiikh Shariif government, which tarnished the good image of Somalia abroad, especially in the Middle East and Europe, which are one of the most important partners to Somalia.

The information we have gathered on the special audit of Somalia's mission abroad indicate that there is gross abuse of public resources, which is worrisome but expected. We say worrisome but expected because the type of people we have been sending to our diplomatic missions has not always been of high standards. And the basis on which the successive governments have been making appointments to our diplomatic missions also raises a lot of questions of tribalism and nepotism and outright corruption.  Somali foreign missions have become embarrassment and nuisance to the integrity, pride, and national identity of Somalis living abroad. The state foreign missions have been literally abandoned and neglected, leaving the country's public diplomacy in complete shambles with sloppiness and inefficiency.

The conduit of choice to conduct Somalia postwar international affairs and public diplomacy are Somali mission in the Arab world, European countries an at the United Nations for instance.  If you try to contact the mission on official matters especially when the President or government delegations are scheduled at the United Nations or Washington DC and institution like our kind get in touch with the mission, you hardly get anyone. Even if you leave message on their phone, you won't get a call back from their offices. And if you try again, the same barrier will be your fate.

I then wonder the meaning of having the Ambassador or Embassy staff. For example In Sudan, the embassy will not respond to your phone call even if someone needs services or to get relevant information and or clarification on some important issues; you'll be ignored. This is how Somalia's foreign missions have become dysfunctional.

Worst of all, equipment  in the embassies are so obsolete and over depreciated that the first model of IBM computers put on the market in the early life of the personal computers are still in use in the Somali missions, looking as if it's the stone age. The Somali Foreign Ministry in Somalia is no help either but in fact the main source of the deplorable condition of Somali foreign missions abroad. According to information obtained and in our possession, the Foreign Ministry is an obstacle to the missions abroad by its failure to employ qualified professional to respond effectively, promptly, and cooperatively to Somalia people who are seeking help. The foreign Ministry of Somalia has abandoned their mission. They hardly do the activities of the mission, nor do they keep the line of communication opened, the lifeblood of conducting public diplomacy and foreign policy. By our account, Somalis who work most of embassies are usually unprepared and left out of several important opportunities and matters because the Foreign Ministry in Mogadishu will not send their qualified people. The mission is poorly managed and if it happens to receive revenue, it goes the pockets of the staff or the Ambassador.

The Somali Embassy in Italy, to begin with, the building looks like a pitiful "bush tent" squeezed in the middle of residential homes and one won't differentiate it from the regular homes around except you wonder thinking what is the Somali flag doing flying so high in a residential area. And when you go in the building, as soon as you enter, you will notice how disorganized the embassy is. You first realized the dormancy of the embassy, which could bring back old memory as if you have visited the "bush tent" of an old corn farm after the harvesting had long been done and abandoned. The employees at the embassy are so unprofessional, before you would go any further into your business or purpose of your visit; you soon encounter the employees treating you as if you have just entered an "old butcher".  Senior staffs are almost not around most of the time and the staffs you meet there in most instances don't care and would treat and interact with you as if you owe them something or you had met them before and that encounter ended on troubling terms. It is so fascinating to know that some staffs can barely have a clue on how to direct you to the embassy from the bus station or (train station). Simple as it is and surprisingly, some staffs do not know how to navigate the web for simple things like getting direction from the internet.

The embassies have no system in place where it can interface Somalis living in the areas they operate. There is no effort in place to bring the embassies to Somalis or develop programs to galvanize the huge community to take advantage of the wealth and human resource of this tiny East African nation has in that parts of the world to channel those opportunities for the betterment of the country back home. The embassy doesn't know or has any clue on Somalis in the jails or Somali-owned businesses and Mosques nor does it interface the Somali Diaspora social fabric.

And what is most disheartening to learn is the President and the Prime Minister are not prioritizing the Somali's foreign mission, especially with special attention on Somalia's front-line embassies and allocating the best of the of support to conduct Somalia's post-transition public diplomacy in primacy.  The President hardly passes by the Somali mission when he is at the United Nations or in Washington DC. Not paying visits at the Somali's mission at the United Nations and Washington DC hampers the opportunity for the President to acquaint himself with problems especially when he recently comes to the United States.

The Somali missions in Arab world, Europe, and now United states are the prime front liners of Somalia's public diplomacy and considering the benefits  and opportunities these institutions could channel to Somalia, they deserve and rightly so need to be run first class with the most savvy and energetic staff. Training and regular in-service training must henceforth be initiated to upgrade the capacity of the human resources at these missions to put them on terms with the sophistication of today's trend and the new frontier of digital and hi-tech public diplomacy in this new era.  

Hassan Shiikh Mohamud's administration must act immediately and reform Somalia's foreign Missions; they are the representatives of the national identity of Somalia and as such, must be given the care reflective of the unique Somali pride. Somalia's foreign missions must be resuscitated and cleansed from the current shambles and state of neglect rattled with the sloppiness and inefficiency looming in the conduct of Somalia post transition public diplomacy.

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Profile of Mr. Mahdi Haile. Mahdi Haile was Born In Somalia and now lives in United States. He is an educated scholar and intellectual. he is an independent expert on Horn of Africa, a Somali blogger, he is Activist and human rights campaigner. As a (more...)
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