Yesterday, Somalia lost a bright star. Almaas Elman, a committed Somali-Canadian civil society campaigner, died after being struck by gunfire in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, while driving from a meeting in the heavily fortified Halane compound, near the international airport. It is unclear whether she was targeted or hit by a stray bullet, possibly fired by one of the many local, regional, or international security forces present in the area.
Almaas came from a family of prominent activists and gained a reputation as a tireless advocate for survivors of sexual violence. She supported the organization that her mother, Fartuun Elman, runs with Almaas’ sister, Ilwad. The group has supported countless survivors of sexual violence as well as former child soldiers from various armed groups. Her father, Elman Ali Ahmed, was a peace activist who was assassinated in Mogadishu in 1996.
It’s clear from the outpouring of messages on social media since news broke of her death, that Almaas was not only an important role model, but also an incredibly warm and humble individual.
Our thoughts are with Almaas’ family and loved ones at this impossibly difficult time.
But the country should not lose yet another star in vain. The government has committed to investigating Almaas’ killing. The authorities should ensure a prompt and thorough investigation, with international support, that not only brings the truth to light and those responsible to justice, but also serves as an impetus for authorities to do more to ensure the safety of all citizens.