Somalia: Former militants escape rehabilitation center in Garowe
GAROWE, Puntland - At least 10 former Al-Shabaab militants were reported to have escaped from a rehabilitation center in Garowe, the capital of Somalia's northeastern semi-autonomous region of Puntland state, Garowe Online reports.
The ex-militants whose allegedly said to be minors and evaded justice were held at a center established in the city which is run by Abdifitah Sugulle, a close ally to Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali "Gaas".
GO has learned that Sugulle received first installment close to $500,000 to run a rehabilitation center to provide psychological counseling to about 40 alleged Al-Shabaab child soldiers to facilitate their reintegration into local communities.
UNICEF staff in Garowe said to have helped Sugulle who is also a local businessman to win the lucrative programme to rehabilitate dozens of fighters captured in March 2016 by Puntland army during counter-offensive against Al-Shabaab fighters in Suuj and Gara'ad towns.
According to the sources, Sugulle is generating a large sum of funds from foreign Agencies supporting his rehabilitation project.
Additionally, the ages of the militants to be rehabilitated at the center is said are not properly screened nor the management of the center is held accountable for the faulty process.
People in Garowe have expressed fear about the Al-Shabaab fighters held in the center that is protected by Police officers and Presidential guards, which is located close to residential areas.
The State Police officials say a major search was launched after the militants from different regions in Somalia were reported missing from the so-called rehabilitation center at the heavily fortified compound.
UN agencies in Somalia previously criticized President Ali' adopting "Catch and Release Policy" after freeing several dangerous combatants and middle-level commanders convicted of killings and attacks from the jails, some sentenced to death penalty.