Somalia: Who is the TFG waiting for to release the Chandlers?

Published: April 18, 2010

The ongoing captivity of the Chandlers, two elderly British couples in Somalia, flies in the face of the presence of any authority let alone a government in the capital. How long should it take for the Transitional Government to show leadership and see to the release of the Chandlers from their captors? Who is the TG waiting for to act?
On 23 October 2009, Paul and Rachel Chandler, who hail from Kent in England, were cruising on a small yacht on the Indian Ocean off the coast of Seychelles when they were taken hostage by Somali pirates. The two captives who are in poor health remain in the hands of their captors in Haradheere, a small coastal town in Somalia less than 250 miles from the capital.
Some may argue why the TG should intervene since it did not take the Chandlers captive. No-one is suggesting the TG had anything to do with the hostage taking of the Chandlers. A responsible government would always feel the burden of responsibility towards hostage taking (captives) held in its country on its watch.
Hostage taking and piracy are some of the undergrowth of the statelessness of Somalia. However, an effective government would take anything under its watch seriously let alone two elderly and infirm British couples held for months without end in a town not far from capital.
Since the taking of the two Britons hostage both the TG President and the Prime Minister have paid high level visits to the UK. Needless to say, the British Government has been good to the TG. In Britain it was perceived that the TG leaders would act and help the release of the hostages after their visit to the UK.
The young men who hold the Chandlers forage to the sea and involve themselves in piracy because they have little else to do with their lives. They are the product of generations of the civil war in Somalia. The Chandlers’ captors were in the beginning asking for hefty ransom to the tune of millions of US dollars. But they have since moderated their demands.
The UK is home to over 150,000 Somalis who are all concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the Chandlers who were in captivity now for seven months. A number of Somali Diaspora meetings held in London have sent repeated appeals to the elders of Haradheere community living in the capital asking them to intervene on behalf of the Chandlers to release them on humanitarian ground.
The Somali Diaspora could only do so much to see the release of the Chandlers. Unfortunately, the TG is busy with matters unrelated to governing. A purposeful government would have known from the outset what to do and what the situation demands. For instance, it would have sought the intervention of the elders from Haradheere to help set the Chandlers free. The prolonged captivity of the Chandlers exposes one thing: the impotence of the Transitional Government. Nevertheless, the TG should know better. It would be ultimately responsible if the two innocent elderly British couples die in the hands of their captors. The question is: Where is leadership from those who sought to lead Somalia? Somalia deserves a lot better!
Abdullahi Dool

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