Dabogoryaale, Oodweyne District, Togdheer, Somaliland, Somalia –
The Garhajis militia, also known as Ga’an Libaah rebel forces, has appeared in Dabogoryaale, a village located along the Somalia-Ethiopia border in Somaliland’s Togdheer region. Photos and videos emerged on social networks, showing the militiamen wayfaring the border town. Disturbingly, the rebels reportedly stole two vehicles belonging to the HALO Trust, a UK-based NGO providing life-saving services to the local population.
The reports indicate that the Ga’an Libaah rebels overpowered the customs office and police station of the Dabogoryaale village. They also disarmed local officers. The incident means the militia is now probably operating in a 100km stretch from Iskudar town to the Ethiopian border. The militia captured Iskudar at the end of July after heavy clashes with the Somaliland forces. Should the area of control expand this far, the Hargeisa government would face serious security trouble.
What some supporters of the Garhajis militia called a “strategic victory” might not be taken well by the Dabogoryaale locals. The militiamen took photos with two vehicles allegedly stolen from the HALO Trust, an international landmine-removing non-governmental organization (NGO). The NGO has been praised for its Border Project, which aims to “clear the border minefields once and for all” from the war-affected areas.
Stealing vehicles from demining NGO
According to the HALO Trust’s website, the organization “has worked in Somaliland since 1999. The organization also has cleared minefields and battlefields across the capital, Hargeisa, and the surrounding area.” The danger, however, has remained in the borderlands, threatening the lives of the local pastoral and rural communities.
“Before HALO, there were landmines everywhere. People got blind and others lost limbs. Now that HALO is clearing the land of mines, the village is growing, and we can build new houses in safety,” Haybe, the Head of the Dabogoryaale village, said in 2020.
If one thing could cool down the excitement stemming from what some call a revolution against Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi, it would be looting the crucial equipment, in this case, vehicles, of NGOs providing life-saving services to the local population. The Garhajis rebel leaders should be aware of that.