Mogadishu — city of extremes
Somalia's capital is both - a city of dispair and hope. Mogadishu has been ravaged by nearly 30 years of civil war but is now at the helm of rebuilding a failed state.
In the face of terror
The truck was loaded with explosives and detonated at a busy junction in the heart of Mogadishu in the afternoon of September 14, 2017. The explosion of the bomb killed at least 276 people and injured hundreds more. It was the worst terror attack in the history of Somalia. Nearly three decades of civil war and terror have also robbed the population of its resilience to drought.
Fighting starvation - a Somali reality
Xamdi is a child of Somali nomads and has been in the nutrition ward of Mogadishu's Banadir Hospital since the beginning of August. Her mother feeds her with the peanut-based 'Plumpy’Nut' paste to avoid severe acute malnutrition. Xamdi is three years old and only weighs seven kilograms. Most kids in Germany in the same age group weigh twice as much. About 800,000 Somalis are facing starvation.
Collapsed health system - even in the capital
This boy recovers in the bed next to Xamdi. He is fighting pneumonia, one of the all too common infections caused by chronic malnutrition and overcrowded conditions in Mogadishu's refugee camps. His hands are wrapped in paper to prevent him from pulling out his feeding tube. Banadir Hospital is the biggest public clinic in the capital, but even here the collapse of the health system is visible.
Mogadishu - city of refugees
Mogadishu is full of makeshift homes. Many nomads and countryside dwellers are determined to stay. They have fled civil war, terror, violence and hunger. The city's population has swollen to nearly 2.5 million. At least 600,000 are officially regarded as 'internally displaced people'.
Camp life takes a heavy toll
The congested and unhygienic living conditions in the camps are a health hazard. Acute respiratory tract infections and diarrhea are common diseases among Mogadishu's internally displaced population. Life in the makeshift camps is a daily struggle for the next meal and the next bucket of water.
Life in waiting
There is not much to do inside the camps but to sit and wait. Many children don't have access to education. Most makeshift camps lack playgrounds or other recreational spaces.
City of ruins
There is much hardship outside the camps, too. The old part of Mogadishu is particularly pockmarked by nearly three decades of internal conflict. But there are also signs of new beginnings.
Early September 2017: These youngsters are having a good time in Mogadishu's Peace Park. All of them are students, all of them express faith in the new government of western-backed President Mohamed. One of them wants to become a civil aviation engineer. He says: "It is much safer here than five years ago." Five years ago al-Shabab ruled the capital. Today the extremists send suicide bombers.
No hand grenades
Right at the entrance to Peace Park, visitors are reminded to leave behind Kalashnikovs, knives, hand grenades and pistols.
The happening place
Liido beach draws huge crowds especially after Friday prayers. People meet to dance and play soccer. Soccer is hugely popular in Somalia. Young lovers meet to court each other. Mogadishu's Liido beach was deserted under al-Shabab's brief rule of the capital.
Reconstruction in full swing
The international community has started to invest in rebuilding Somalia's shattered state. Reconstruction is most visible in the capital. This new street was built with Turkish help. Turkey has also set up a huge military base in Mogadishu to train Somali soldiers.
Walls and fences
New villas spring up throughout town. Somalia's returning diaspora invests in Mogadishu's booming property market. So do politicians and other strongmen. Many of the new buildings are surrounded by high blast walls and concertina wire to fend off terrorists, criminals and rivals.
The airport region has become the expats' hub. Like Baghdad and Kabul, Mogadishu has a green zone. The United Nations and most of the returning diplomatic missions live and work in the vast compound which has developed around Mogadishu's International Airport. It is fenced off and guarded by African Union troops.
City of murals
Most of Mogadishu's shopfronts sport hand-painted murals which add some much-needed color to a city slowly rising from its ruins.
Modern billboards are also conquering the streets, advertising online shopping for Arab fashion or application details for private educational institutions.
Not for all
The city's new attractions are out of reach for the many displaced people and the poor. Somalia's progress and stability will depend on the state's ability to win the trust of its people. Right now nearly seven million people, which is about half the country's population, depend on humanitarian aid.
More than half of Somalia's population is under 18. The majority of citizens were born after the overthrow of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 — the pivotal event that caused the country to become a failed state. The capital's youth, if not engaged meaningfully, often feel disenfranchised, adding to Somalia's continued vulnerability.