Before the civil war in Somalia, the capital, Mogadishu, was known for its wide beaches, fresh sea air and pure blue ocean water. Today, however, large amounts of trash are spreading everywhere. Mogadishu is home to two million people. It produces about 2,500 tons of useless waste every day. But, until recently, it did not have an official place to put waste material or a trash recycling center. Instead, people have been leaving trash on the streets, placing it along the coast or into the Indian Ocean. VOA’s Somali Service recently reported on the problem. It found pictures of workers throwing trash into the water. Other pictures show huge amounts of cans, bottles, boxes, metal and other waste along the coastline. Sometimes the trash burns, causing smoke and a bad smell to float into the city.

Other Problem Not Solve Yet At Somalia

To deal with the problem, the Somali government officially announced the establishment of two waste landfills in December. One is in Mogadishu’s north. The other is in a community just south of the city. But observers say more action is needed. Hassan Nur teaches at Mogadishu’s Banadir University. He said there are no laws to prevent people from leaving trash all over the city. “Waste management cannot work without legislation,” he said. Parts of Mogadishu’s coastline remain free of trash. Somalis gather in these areas to enjoy the sea breeze and play in the warm water. The sights remind many people that, before years of civil war and terrorism, the city was once known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Mohamed Yahye is a Somali reporter. He told VOA he has seen all kinds of waste products left on Jazeera Beach.

“I saw a tanker bring sewage waste and unload it onto the beach,” he said. Nur said that the open dumping of waste can lead to increased risk of cancer and other diseases. “It’s not just health problems. It also impacts on (the) environment – the air, the land,” he said. Omar Abdullahi Hassan is commissioner of the Wadajir district, which includes Jazeera beach. He said it is now illegal to leave trash there. Mohamud Yusuf Hassan is head of the Environmental Cleaning Company. It is one of three companies identified by police as unloading trash on beaches. Police have yet to arrest anyone for doing so, however. Hassan said his company, which employs over 300 people, is now listening to police. “We don’t dump into the sea now,” he said. But his company is having trouble finding places to leave waste materials or to recycle trash. “There is no place to manage it,” he said. Hassan agreed that laws are needed to help control the problem. The commissioner of Wadajir said his group has been working in recent weeks to get the large, new landfills into operation. He added that it is wrong to put trash on the beaches. “Beaches are the most beautiful parts of this country,” he said. Harun Maruf reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Over the past two decades, about 2,000 Somalis have found asylum in Willmar, population 19,628, making up about 10 percent of the total population. Most moved to the quiet Midwestern town to find a decent-paying job at the Jennie-O processing plant, the second largest turkey distributor in the country. The company employs close to 7,000 people and about one-third are of Somali descent. Many were refugees, including Anis Iman, a 30-year-old project manager who ran cross-country with Hamza’s brother, Kaafi. Iman’s father was murdered in Somalia by warlords looking to seize his farm in 1990. Iman was only 4 years old and doesn’t remember his father. He also doesn’t remember when his mother fled with his five siblings and him for a refugee camp in Kenya.

The family traveled about 1,000 miles in the equatorial heat of northeast Africa and moved mostly by foot under the threat of malaria, hunger and violence. They reached the Kenyan refugee camp, but not before his sisters, an infant and a 2-year-old, died of starvation. “A lot of people ask me how I got to where I am today,” said Iman, the father of three. ] has prepared me for this. I think anything can be overcome. Iman’s family gained asylum in Willmar after 12 years of living on one meal a day in the refugee camp. When Iman enrolled in Willmar High School, he didn’t have a formal education. He learned English within a year, graduated from high school and began managing 60 employees at Jennie-O by the time he was 22 years old. “Working hard. That’s the No. 1 thing,” Iman said.

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