Puntland’s Minister of Agriculture dies of Coronavirus in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, Somalia – The minister in Puntland has given up on Coronavirus, the federal government confirmed on Monday, amid escalating cases of the disease in the Horn of Africa.

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Ismail Diriye Gama-did, who served as Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change, died at a Mogadishu hospital after weeks of struggle with the disease, which has infected a large number of top government officials in Puntland.

A number of ministers and top advisers to President Said Abdullahi Deni had tested positive for COVID-19 and were among dozens of victims who underwent treatment at various health care facilities.

Diriye flew to Mogadishu last week where he received treatment until his death, the Ministry of Agriculture announced on Monday, adding that “his condition had drastically worsened”.

In a statement, Deni described him as a “diligent” minister who believed in “teamwork” and “deep consultation” in the cabinet. Diriye, he added, “will be greatly missed by the Puntland people, especially his colleagues”.

“He had done a wonderful job. It’s sad that we lost him the time the state needed him most. We send our condolences as government to his family and friends across Somalia,” Deni said, adding that the state will closely monitor his funeral .

Coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage Somalia, a country with almost a dysfunctional health care system, thus endangering millions of lives. So far, a total of 1594 people have tested positive for COVID-19 according to statistics from the health department.

Of this figure, 211 have received a clean health cost, but 61 have since been eliminated, the department said. Puntland is the third worst affected region after Banadir and Somaliland and has so far registered 163 cases.

Some of the high-profile people who have undergone COVID-19 in Somalia include Khalif Mumin Tohow, a regional justice minister in HirShabelle State, who died in April at Martini Hospital, the only known isolation and treatment facility in Somalia.

Others include former Prime Minister Nur Adde, who died in London last month and legendary musician Ahmed Ismail Hussein, who also spent most of his adult life in the UK. Abdikani Mohamed Wa’ays, a former Somali ambassador to the Arab League, also died in Kuwait.

The death is due to concerns that some of the donations intended to mitigate COVID-19 had found their way to the black market in Mogadishu, but the claims could not be independently verified by AxadleTM.

During the Eld al Fitr gathering in Mogadishu on Saturday, former president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who served as president during the transitional government from 2009 to 2012, said some of the donations had become visible on the streets, but did not provide concrete evidence to substantiate the claims.

“It seems that several medical devices donated by governments that are friendly to Somalia are not being used properly. Some of them have been seen on the market, it’s not good,” said the fiery politician, who has been at the forefront with federal leader Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in recent months.

According to Ahmed, who was recently elected chairman of the National Party Forum [FNP], a conglomerate of six opposition parties, his office had received reports that the donations had been smuggled. However, he did not associate any institution with the alleged scandal.

The federal government has handled shipments of the donations in all member states, including the Somaliland separation company. The government has not yet issued a statement on the latest charges.

Somalia’s lack of medical supplies was widely discussed by the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, which urged charities to come on board and help the fragile UN-backed administration help to cushion thousands of vulnerable populations.

Puntland has received support from the federal government, despite the fact that Deni and Farmajo have had political violations. No clear date for burial has been given but due to tight Islamic culture he can be put to rest on Monday [today] or tomorrow.


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