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    STORY: LIFEGUARDS OF MOGADISHU TRT: 14:29 SOURCE: AU/UN IST RESTRICTIONS: This media asset is free for editorial broadcast, print, online and radio use. It is not to be sold on and is restricted for other purposes. All enquiries to news@auunist.org CREDIT REQUIRED: AU/UN IST LANGUAGE: ENGLISH/SOMALI/NATS DATELINE: 31st JANUARY 2014, MOGADISHU, SOMALIA The script and shot-list are available online: http://bit.ly/1gxN53m STORY: Sun, sand and plenty of fun, mark a day at the beach; but this beach is in one of the least expected places. Lido beach in the heart of the Somali capital Mogadishu has come alive and people here are making the best of the weekend. This was not the case just 3 years ago when al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda aligned extremist group run this city, but times have changed. With thousands of city residents finally able to enjoy their country’s seashores, a team of lifeguards has been trained by the municipality to ensure their safety and reduce the number of drowning cases that have occurred in the past. The project was initiated by the Mogadishu Mayor’s office and the district commissioner of the area, tasked with implementing it. Abdullahi Hussein Hassan was a teacher before he became the commissioner; he remembers one of his students drowning at this very beach and was eager to safeguard others. “I am very happy that this project has been initiated and it’s saving lives.” Says Abdullahi Hussein Hassan “As you can see there are lots of people here not only from this area but all parts of the city and outside as well. They have come here and are having fun and after they can go home safe.” The team of 15 lifeguards, volunteer their time and boats over the weekend, they are mostly fishermen from the area and the commissioner’s office provided them with training and gives them with fuel to run their boats. “People often drown because the waves are heavy and it pulls them to sea and many don’t know how to swim, so we go and rescue them.” Says Omar Haji Mohamud, a fisherman turned lifeguard. “Every weekend we save many lives without pay, we volunteer our time and experience. The districts commissioner provides us with fuel we need.” Although it might not be much, the lifeguards and their boats are already having an impact, with many of the experienced swimmers and those hitting the waves for the first time glad that they are there. “There were a lot of challenges before and people lost their lives,” says Mohamed Omar, a regular at the beach. “But now we have boats to save people, which is an improvement from the government. We want to thank them for that and it shows that they are supporting the youth.” “I come here every Friday and I am happy with the improvement being made because it allows me to swim safely.” says Osman a Mogadishu resident. “You see I am here without my security guard, I am enjoying with my generation without fear.” adds Mohamed Yusuf, the spokesperson of the Mogadishu Mayor office. “I am not fearing now compared to three years ago, al Shabaab was controlling this area, no one, none of us could come here, even us, so today we are free and we have to thank the African Union, our friends of the African Union, they give us an opportunity to defeat al Shabaab.” The Commissioners’ office is expecting ten new rescue boats to help with the traffic at the beach and an emergency health center has been set up to deal with injuries while swimming. END.

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