Somali-Canadians left reeling after bombing in Mogadishu, call for Canada to help | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Somali-Canadians left reeling after bombing in Mogadishu, call for Canada to help

October 16, 2017 - 2:32 PM

Somali-Canadians left reeling after a bomb blast killed hundreds in Mogadishu over the weekend are calling for Canada to offer help to those affected by the horrific attack.

More than 300 people were killed and nearly 400 others were injured after a truck bomb targeted a crowded street in Somalia's capital on Saturday. It was one of the world's deadliest attacks in years. Somalia's government blamed the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, though the Islamic extremist group has not claimed responsibility.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his condolences to the Somali-Canadian community and the family and friends of those who lost their lives.

"The attacks in Somalia are horrifying and Canada condemns them strongly," he said on Twitter.

Jibril Ibrahim, president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton, said Somalia has been devastated by the blast and Canada's government should be offering assistance.

"Our prime minister has made a statement, and I think the statement is good, but not what we need at this moment," Ibrahim said in an interview on Monday, adding that the federal government should be helping get the wounded out of Mogadishu and into places where they can get adequate medical treatment.

Global Affairs Canada said it was closely monitoring the situation.

"At this time, the government of Somalia has not made any specific request of Canada," spokeswoman Brittany Venhola-Fletcher said in an email Monday afternoon. "We will consider any such requests if received and determine an appropriate response."

Hospitals in the region have been overwhelmed, and are struggling to assist injured victims, many burned beyond recognition.

More than 70 critically injured people have been airlifted to Turkey for treatment, and Somalia's information minister said countries including Kenya and Ethiopia have offered to send medical aid.

Some in the Somali-Canadian community said Ottawa needs a more active reaction to what happened.

"Yes, the prime minister tweeted about the issue, but it shouldn't stop at tweeting, it should be helping in any way," said Mohamed Adem, another Somali community organizer. "Even if they only send one airplane filled with medicine or they offer financial help to hospitals. The next few days are critical, really."

Medical supplies provided by foreign governments in the early days could mean the difference between life and death, said Adem, noting that the death toll from the attack had been rising.

"The other 200-something died after that because there's no medical equipment there," he said. "There's no blood. There's so many different things that are missing."

Venhola-Fletcher said Canada has allocated $28.75 million to address drought- and conflict-related humanitarian needs in Somalia since December 2016.

"This funding has been channelled through UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, and non-governmental organizations to help provide food, water and sanitation, treatment for acute malnutrition and other medical support, shelter, and protection to those in need," she said.

Omar Warfa, executive director of Dixon Community Services in Toronto, said news of the attack has hit many Somali-Canadians hard.

"It touches me because I'm a Somali. I grew up there," said Warfa, who has been in Canada for more than three decades but still has friends and extended family in Somalia. None of them were killed or injured in the blast.

"It is quite traumatizing for the community."

— with files from the Associated Press.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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