Somalia's envoy to Egypt dies from coronavirus in Kuwait


MOGADISHU, Somalia - Abdikani Mohamed Wa'ays, the Somalia ambassador both to Egypt and the Arab League of nations has died, authorities in Mogadishu said, Sunday, joining a series of high profile individuals who have succumbed to the virus.

The envoy died in Kuwait after staying within a health facility for the past one week, where he tested positive for COVID-19, multiple sources confirmed. However, it's not clear why and when he had traveled to Kuwait.

On his Twitter handle, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheire termed the diplomat a "dedicated servant" to his country who expanded "critical networks" that have helped Somalia both in the social-economic and geopolitical arena.

"My deepest condolences to the Somali people and the family of our ambassador to Egypt and the Arab League, Ambassador Abdiqani Muhumed Wa'ays," the PM said, adding "we will remember his long service to the country. May Allah have mercy on him."

The veteran diplomat is said to have been struggling with diabetes, thus joining thousands of victims who have perished due to the virus for having pre-existing conditions. He served various dockets before raising ranks to the current position.

Somalia is a member of the Arab League of Nations which comprises 22 countries mainly within the Middle East and North Africa. The organization has traditionally backed the war-torn nation's path to economic recovery after decades of civil war and Al-Shabaab menace.

Some of the high profile people who have succumbed to COVID-19 in Somalia include Khalif Mumin Tohow, a regional minister for justice in HirShabelle state, who died in April at Martini Hospital, the only known isolation, and treatment facility in Somalia.

Others include former Prime Minister Nur Adde, who died in London last month, and legendary musician Ahmed Ismail Hussein, who also spent most of his adult life in the United Kingdom.

Besides recording death rates in foreign countries, Somalis have not been either spared at home. As of Sunday, 1054 people had tested positive for COVID-19, further raising questions about the country's state of preparedness.

Of this number, 118 have been given a clean bill of health while 51 have since died, the health department said. The number of deaths is highest regionally, closely followed by Kenya, whose death toll hit 30 according to the ministry of health.

The envoy's death comes amid concerns that the office of Somali Prime Minister had assumed all roles regarding the ongoing mission to combat the pandemic, slightly edging out the ministry of health under Dr. Fawziya Abikar.

But in a statement on Friday, the department dismissed the assertions, arguing that it has continued to execute it's mandated, adding that it was keen to mitigate the risks using all the available limited means.

"Minister of Health thanks the Somali PM for his unparalleled commitment to this cause as he continues to lead from the front; his support during this crisis has been immeasurable. We would hope that all Somalis rally together to face this pandemic in whatever capacity," added the statement.

No date for burial has been communicated by the government or the family but he's likely to be interred in Kuwait according to Islamic culture or the body might be airlifted to home for burial, depending on the most preferred option by the federal government.

Egypt is also a close friend to Somalia, a reason why the Horn of Africa nation recently expressed interest in arbiter controversy on the ongoing construction of Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile by Ethiopia, much to antagonism from Cairo.


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