The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), United Nations Guard Unit (UNGU), Police Formed Unit and Somali residents, have embarked on a campaign to eliminate plastic materials that affect aquatic species along the Indian Coastline.
The theme for the campaign resonates well with this year’s 5th June World Environmental Day theme: “Beat Plastic Pollution”.
On 14 May 2023, the 7 km ‘beach cleaning’, as it is commonly referred to in Mogadishu, collected 2 tons of plastic materials such as cans, water bottles, medicinal bottles, footwear and sachets. All these were put into compactor trucks, taken to the waste management yard and bailed ready for recycling.
The Environmental Unit Chief at United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) Mr. Richard Oyo, noted that the beach cleaning aimed at protecting marine pollution affected by plastic waste.
He explained that when plastic materials end up in the ocean, fish and other aquatic species eventually swallow them, especially the tiny plastics, adding that fish cannot digest these plastics so they end up either dying or we consume contaminated fish. “The United Nations Environmental Global strategy is to reduce the use of plastics by using dispensers instead of bottles. That is why we have replaced water bottles with water dispensers in all our offices. This will in a way reduce the littering of plastics. The key issue is reduction of plastic consumption,” said Mr. Oyo, adding, “We encourage all of us especially local communities to reduce on the use of plastics because the only way we can reduce plastics is to control at the source.”
According to Oyo, UNSOS is looking into the possibility of supplying the bailed plastic waste as raw material to local Somali NGOs for the production of pavers used for walkways. This will be in fulfillment of its Corporate Social Responsibility.
Capt Halima Ahmed Assir, who spoke on behalf of the Somali community, appreciated the international community and ATMIS for participating in the beach cleaning.
She said every evening after work, residents throng the shoreline to relax, swim or jog. “Our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has participated in this exercise. The place was contaminated endangering our lives. Let this exercise extend to the roads and residences to dispose of all the plastics,” Capt Halima Assir remarked.
Meanwhile, Lt Col Edward Tabaro, the Sector One Contingent Communications Officer, who represented ATMIS forces; thanked all participants for the beach cleaning.
He noted that ATMIS wishes to leave a positive legacy of a well-maintained clean environment, most especially the Indian coastline, for the future generation.