When Al Shabaab attack and kill other people-presumably ‘non-Muslims’, they claim that they are fighting for their Muslim brothers and sisters where they justify the collection of protection fee and Zakat. People who live in Al Shabaab-controlled areas pay the fee for lack of alternative and fear of victimization.
However, these claims do not reflect with their actions as people in Mandera are now pointing out. Mzee Hadji Burow who had walked for over 40 kilometers to seek medical attention was grieved to learn that he could not be treated, as there were no doctors to attend to him. “We have always known that Alshabaab is an enemy of progress in this region.” Mzee Burow speaking in broken Swahili said, “I endured harsh conditions to walk here for help, but I have been told that the only doctors who could treat me were kidnapped by Alshabaab.” He was referring to the Cuban doctors kidnapped by Al Shabaab militants when they were heading for duty. The less handicapped Ahmed Adan while speaking from his wheelchair added, “The kidnapped doctors were very good and discriminated against no one, whether you are disabled or not, it is a big loss to the disabled family. I have no idea who will be treating me with my condition”
Queues in Level Four Mandera Hospital are growing longer each day as people earnestly wait for medical help. Al Shabaab captured the only doctors who used to serve people from border towns. The hospital-which is only two kilometers from the Somalia-border, serves people from Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
Dr. Assel Herera Correa-a general physician and Dr. Landy Rodriguez a surgeon were in Kenya as a result of an exchange program between Cuba and Kenya. Cuban doctors had been deployed all over the country as some Kenyan doctors are undergoing the same experience in the Caribbean country.
In the past years, leaders in Northern Kenya have been complaining about Al Shabaab attacks on ‘foreigners’. These foreigners have included professionals and business people. Attacks on ‘foreigner-owned’ businesses, the killing of teachers, quarry workers and now kidnapping of doctors does more harm to the locals those foreigners.