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Domestic flights to resume in Somalia, Sunday

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - After almost four months of stalemate due to the novel Coronavirus pandemic, domestic flights are set to resume on Sunday in Somalia, a senior official confirmed, ending speculations about a possible extension of the suspension.

Ismael Mukhtaar, the official government spokesperson, said all airlines that have been cleared by the Ministry of Transport and Aviation will start flying across Somalia's skies, adding that strict protocols have been established with an aim of minimizing infections.

The government, he said, has deployed health professionals in all airports within the country, who are set to screen passengers before giving them an okay to disembark from the aircraft. Those detected with the virus, he added, will be taken in for treatment. "We shall resume domestic flights this Sunday and a long suspension.

The government has established mechanisms to enable smooth operations including screening passengers for the virus," he said on Thursday in a tweet.

Domestic flights were first suspended in March after the country recorded its first Coronavirus case within the Banadir region. Since then, the country has recorded more than 2,900 cases of which, over 90 people have since died, data from the Ministry of Heath indicates.

According to Mukhtaar, the Somali cabinet under the stewardship of Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, approved the resumption of the flights. Of the infections, only 900 people have recovered, a move that could further raise eyebrows on protocols set to prevent further spread.

With almost a dysfunctional road infrastructure, Somalia heavily depends on air transport as the most reliable mode of transportation. However, the model favors only the middle class since almost 70 percent of the citizens live beyond $1 a day.

It's not clear when the country is set to resume international flights, which were also suspended indefinitely in March. Statistics from the Ministry of Finance indicate that the country has suffered numerous losses in terms of revenues due to the closure of Aden Adde International Airport.

Besides suspending domestic and international flights, the country had also imposed a curfew within Mogadishu, which led to the death of two people, who were killed by a police officer. The deaths sparked protests in the city.

On Thursday, a military court in Mogadishu found Hassan Aden Hassan, a police officer, guilty of killing Madino Abdullahi Abdi and Hassan Ali Addaawe on April 24 while enforcing COVID-19 curfew. Hassan, the court said, was guilty of deliberate killing and unauthorized use of force.

He was slapped with a death sentence but he still has room to appeal the sentence, although it's not usually changed. Col. Hassan Alinur Shute, the military court’s chief, read the sentence, which was positively received by residents of Mogadishu.

Somalia’s police chief had immediately fired the commissioner in charge of security in Bondhere district where the shooting occurred, following two days of violent protests which led to the destruction of properties within the Somalia capital, Mogadishu.


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