Somalians praise Lindhout

Freelance reporter Amanda Lindhout is being hailed for her courageous efforts to interview hurting Somalians when international news media outlets have ignored what’s happening within the lawless country, say members of the Somalian community.

Freelance reporter Amanda Lindhout is being hailed for her courageous efforts to interview hurting Somalians when international news media outlets have ignored what’s happening within the lawless country, say members of the Somalian community.

Ahmed Hussen, national president of the Canadian Somali Congress in Ottawa, praised the 28-year-old former Sylvan Lake resident for trying to cover “one of the most under-reported conflicts in the world.”

Lindhout planned to interview some of those displaced by a civil war that began nearly 20 years ago when she and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were ambushed by gunmen on Aug. 23, 2008. They were released on Nov. 25 after families had secured a ransom.

According to Oxfam International, hundreds of thousands of Somalians who have fled the violence are now trapped in horrifically overcrowded or poorly managed camps in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia itself.

“She was covering internally displaced people, a story that isn’t usually covered,” said Hussen. “She took a lot of risk to do that and on that level, deserves a lot of credit.”

Hussen said he doesn’t see BBC or CNN reporters heading to the region.

“The very fact that freelance reporters are going to these conflict zones suggests there is a lack of reporting on the part of the major news networks,” Hussen said.

The country is the second deadliest for journalists in the world, behind the Philippines. Eight Somalian journalists, often acting as freelancers for major agencies, have been killed this year.

Hussen said the national congress would like to partner with the Alberta Somalian community to hold a public event to formally thank Lindhout when she is able do so. Lindhout has returned to Alberta.

Hussein Warsame, a Somali who is an associate professor with University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, said the Somalian community in Alberta appreciates what Lindhout and Brennan had attempted to do prior to capture.

“I would say more people are actually suffering in Somalia than they are in Afghanistan or Darfur (in Sudan),” said Warsame in reference to two other war conflicts found outside Somalia.

It’s hoped a thank-you dinner can be arranged, once Lindhout’s family has given the green light.

“I’ve heard that (Lindhout) has received our message and that she was touched,” Warsame said.

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