The administration of new Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud plans to return thousands of Somali soldiers who have been missing for years after being taken to Eritrea for a military training, presidential spokesman Abdikarin Ali Kar said on Saturday.
Nearly a year before his election last year, new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said the youths taken to Eritrea had been “sold” following a UN report confirming that some of them had been deployed to fight alongside allied Ethiopian and Eritrean forces in the northern region of Tigray.
“Since they are Somali troops, returning them is crucial because they are a national treasure,” Somali presidential spokesman told the first press conference at Villa Somalia for nearly five years.
“It’s also essential that mothers and other people whose sons are missing without hearing from them to receive information.”
Hundreds of families held protests in a number of cities across Somalia since 2020 to urge the previous Somali government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo to provide an explanation about the whereabouts of their missing loved ones, but their calls have been ignored.
At the handover of power to new President last month, Farmajo said 5,000 Somali troops had completed training in Eritrea but his government could not return them home due to power fights in the country and elections.
His National Security Advisor and former Intelligence chief Fahad Yasin also alleged in an interview this month that the case of the boys taken to Eritrea was politicized by agents of Ethiopia’s former TPLF regime and denied that Somali troops had taken part in Tigray conflict.