Somalia Medal The Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia
A Soldier's Journals
Wednesday, July 18, 2018  

Somalia '93




 

Dying Children

18 February 93

In the morning we received new orders and also a warning order for future operations.  Starting on the 20th, we will be helping the clans move their weapons into containment areas.  Ten, once this is done we will begin a house to house search clearing every hut in Beled Weyne of weapons.  Things will get interesting as most people will be unwilling to give up their weapons.

Already over the past couple of days there have been a couple of grenades thrown at us and constant sniper fire.  In return our troops have killed two people and injured several more.

We spent the afternoon on our original mission, recce'ing the tracks and villages East of the highway. While filling out a report for the aid agencies on a small village called Ali Gani, nicknamed vegetable patch on our maps, a man approached us. His family was sick and needed our help.

Once our eyes adjusted to the dark of the hut, we found his wife and two young children lying on mats in the dirt. The smell of vomit was overpowering. The medic checked them and determined they had TB and dysentery. Apparently they hadn't been able to hold down food or water for over two weeks.

I grabbed a case of water from our carrier and tried to get the older child, a girl of about four, to drink. She immediately vomited it up. With our limited supplies and strict orders against providing more than emergency medical aid, there was little more we could do.

The medic tried to get the father to take his family to the hospital in Beled Weyne, but his few goats were more important to him than the lives of his family. In Somalia, life is cheap and a Somali values his livestock and his gun more than his wife and children. We all have trouble dealing with incidents like this. These people will die because we are not allowed to take them to the hospital or give out medicine and the Somalis are too apathetic to help either. All we do is fill out reports, smile and hand out Canada pins. If they aren't even willing to help themselves or each other though, why should we bother to do more?

 

On our patrols, we are often the first into small outlying villages and nomad camps. Aid is often days to weeks behind us and we barely have enough supplies for ourselves. We are incapable of helping everyone, so instead we help no-one.

On the way back out to the highway a mine went off on the track about a kilometer in front of us.  Luckily it was just the engineers clearing the road.  It makes me wonder if that mine has always been sitting there in the middle of this track we have travelled countless times or if it was recently planted.

Just as the sun began to set we put out early warning and set up a roadblock on the highway to search for bandits and weapons.  It was busy until about 9:30 when the traffic died down.  Hopefully we will be able to catch up on the sleep lost last night.

19 February 93

We were up and away fairly early after a fairly uneventful night.  Back at camp we cleaned our weapons and gear and were put on 'Sunday' routine.  That didn't last long though.  At 9:30 this morning we were put on 15 minute notice to move to support 1 commando on a sweep through Beled Weyne.  The sweeps are starting earlier than I expected.  We probably won't head out until noon though.

Apparently Barbera McDougal has announced that the Canadians will be pulled out in late April or early May.  It seems that every few days it changes.  It will be nice when something finally firms up and we have something to look forward to.

Floorboards for our tents arrived this morning and we managed to get them in before we went out with 1 commando.  The tent looks allot better with the floors.  It is both brighter and cleaner.  It will also be nice to be out of the dirt if only for awhile.

This afternoon we swept through the refugee settlement that has grown up around callsign 8.  Our weapons det acted as a cutoff while 1 commando and the rest of our platoon searched the huts.  It was uneventful, with no major incidents.  We only found a couple of rifles, pistols and belted ammunition.

Returning to camp this evening we found a shit load of fresh rations awaiting so we cooked up a bit of a feast.  Then returning to my tent I found more mail waiting on my bed than I have received the whole time I've been here.  There was a letter from Nanny, three from Heather, one from Jennifer and best of all, one from Kat.  All of this made for a great night, but it also makes me miss home badly.  The routine and boredom deadens the mind and eating military field rations day after day is wreaking havoc on my system.

I will try and get to bed early tonight.  I have a three hour guard duty shift starting at midnight, then I have to work for the quartermaster tomorrow at seven.  Only a few people from the platoon are going out tomorrow to supervise the movement of the weapon's caches into containment areas.  It is too bad I am staying back, I wanted to get some pictures of the heavy weapons and try and get my hands on an AK.

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