Last year I went to Somalia. All the journalists I talked to before leaving said it was a bad idea, and I would die. I didn’t die.
That was then. This is now. Somalia has gotten so much worse in just the past year that now I’m the one telling other journalists not to go.
But don’t take it from me. Consider this useful aid prepared by Rob Crilly of The Times:
From time to time I am asked by big-name foreign correspondents whether it is safe to visit Somalia. Often it seems as if I am the 27th person they have called as they try to find the one person who says: “Ah, sure you’ll be fine.” Sometimes they do actually listen to my advice but I can’t help thinking that the current feeling among many outsiders is that the Nairobi press corps has lost its bottle. Rather than take a bit of a risk, they probably think, we’re content to sit on our arses and cover Somalia by phone.
So to save me having to dispense any more advice to rather impatient award-winning types, here is my cut-out-and-keep decision model for anyone thinking of a trip …
1) Have you been to Somalia before? If yes proceed to 2. If no proceed to 3
2) Were you kidnapped on that occasion? If yes proceed to 4. If no proceed to 5
3) Have you been to Iraq or Afghanistan? If yes proceed to 7. If no proceed to 6
4) Then you should know better. Don’t go
5) Then your luck is probably about to run out. Don’t go
6) Then what are you thinking of? Don’t go
7) Then you are probably under the impression that you can hide in the green zone and wait for an embed to go somewhere interesting. In Somalia there’s no green zone, and the only embeds are with Ethiopian or African Union soldiers who are being blown to smithereens on a daily basis. There’s no-one you can trust. And no-one who can guarantee your safety. Don’t go