UPDF to construct youth recreation center in Somalia

Handout photos shared by UPDF on May 25, 2023 show UPDF during clearing of the Freedom Square Ground in Somalia ahead of construction of a youth center. PHOTO/HANDOUT

The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) members serving under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) have today launched ground works for the construction of a youth recreation center in the coastal town of Barawe, Somalia.

According to the deputy defense spokesperson Col Deo Akiiki, the 400 by 300-meter Freedom square levelled ground lies astride the shores of Indian Ocean East of Barawe Town.

The multi-purpose youth recreation center will serve as a skilling, entertainment and environmental conservation centre with a library, sports courts, a tailoring center, youth offices and saloons.

Barawe District youth leader Zakaria Muhammod Muhammed has noted that the center will go a long way to empower the youth in promoting talents.

“Skilling young people is one way of fighting ignorance, eliminate redundancy, create employment and preserve our heritage. We ask for a speedy construction of this structure,” he said.

The Battle Group XXXVIII Commander Col Christopher Berochan reiterated ATMIS’ unwavering support to the ongoing Somali-led peace and stability process and also called upon development partners to support the speedy construction of the youth recreation center which is to contribute on the mindset change.

“Young people are vulnerable to Al-Shabaab recruitment propaganda. With this center in place it will empower them to determine what is right and wrong. Let us all support this effort," remarked Col Berochan.

Meanwhile the district engineer, Sayid Ibrahim Adam underscored the need to work together with ATMIS engineers to fast track the construction of the youth center.

Before the collapse of Mohamed Siad Barre regime, Barawe freedom square ground used to be an economic hub for goods and travelers. When Al-Shabaab took over the town in the late 90’s, the freedom square became a lucrative revenue collection point- especially for charcoal export to the Middle East countries.

In 2014, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) captured the coastal town with all the charcoal stockpile now prohibited by Federal Government of Somalia.