As Syrian War Opens Front at Lamahuran Hospital in Hargeisa
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – “Thanks to the ministry of health I can now feed myself and extended family scattered in various refugees camps in Syria, Lebanon and Turkey”
This touching statement comes from Dr Firas Aljanadi a Syrian national currently employed as the only cardiologist at the state owned Hargeisa Group Hospital-HGH as from the first of July 2014.
Before starting work at the HGH Dr Firas Aljanadi who came to the country last October says he and his wife almost died of hunger after his initial employer failed to pay him for over three months.
The Syrian who says prior to his employment felt like a slave in Somaliland officially came to the country courtesy of a one year contract with Hargeisa Based Lamahuran hospital whose proprietor is prominent tycoon Abdirizaq Ismail Jama AKA Omani.
“I only stopped feeling like a slave in Somaliland a fortnight ago after the deputy health minister Ms Nimo Qawdan and the chairman of the National Professional health Board Dr Ahmed Hashi Oday intervened”
Adding that he came in contact with these officials through some very helpful landers among them the Somaliland red Crescent Society-SRCS National Tracing officer Abdilahi Saeed Muhumed, the Editor of The Horn Tribune Newspaper Mohamednuur Ahmed Egge and Somalilandsun staff (this writer) who had been following my case since May 2014.
Following contact to this writer an arranged meeting with Dr Firas ensued with a saddening tale of torture and perpetual enslavement of a foreign professional who despite fulfilling his contractual agreements was failed by his contractor Lamahuran Hospital where the citizen owned facility is managed by Syrians who refused to pay Dr Firas and His Dr Wife for services rendered without reasons apart from differences originating from their home Country.
In narration of his ordeal that was the basis of our investigations the Syrian Cardiologist said
Quote- I am Dr Firas M. Aljanadi,MD,MSc, A Syrian Doctor, who is a Slavery victim in Somaliland where I came on contract to Lamahuran Hospital in Hargeisa through an reemployment agency in Lebanon last October;
.About one year ago I lost my house and my clinic which were destroyed in Syria as a result of ongoing war in my country thence displacement of my family to various refugee camps inside Syria, Turkey and Lebanon where I fled with my wife to Lebanon
Despite my Masters degree in cardiac surgery from Damascus University my financial situation deteriorated and more sadly was unable to find a job in Lebanon until I became fortunate to be offered one in your country ;to Lamahuran Hospital through an Employment agency in Lebanon that took my entire first month Salary ($3000) as commission.
I arrived Hargeisa on the last day of last October, and according to a contract with Lamahuran Hospital represented by its administrator Dr Abdisattar Alhakimi a Doctor from Yemeni , I began to work as a heart clinic doctor on the 1st of November 2013 working with diligence to do the best for the patients and offer the medical advice according to the latest international guidelines .
my work flourished gradually although I was bothered by my urologist colleague who envied me especially after my wife a doctor too followed me and began to work at the same hospital.
Without regard to my good work in cardiology which is missing in the country the hospital failed to pay the salary of February with the Administrator Eng Abdilhadey promising me payment in total the following month.
Come April and now three months without my pay and my wife’s two months I stopped working until they give me my two salaries and my wife salary a total number of about $9500 is paid.
This figure does not include commissions from consultations as included in the contract. Unquote
Asked why he refused to working and he had a one year contract Dr Firas said,
Quote- because I was unable to cover my basic expenses like food and rent payment not to mention support of my extended family scattered at refugee camps in four countries as well as trying to avoid the accumulation of more unpaid dues.
I also developed suspicion when, unfortunately Eng Abdilhadey a Syrian aligned to the government of Assad become the hospital administrator after Mr. Abdirizaq Omani bought out his co Dr Abdisattar Alhakimi to became sole proprietor of the hospital.
Though Eng Abdilhadey had been acting in that capacity since late March the actual transfer of hospital to Mr. Oman took effect in the last days of April and on request for payment of my due remunerations I was informed that the new owner Mr. Omani was not responsible thence should seek the said from the now bought out Dr Yemeni.
Being conscious that my tribulations were not economic based but politically motivated since the new administrator and Urologist are Syrians aligned to the government of Basher Assad and I am from Deraa province the opposition’s stronghold in Syria IU decided to get another job of which offers were galore but I couldn’t work because of the contract with Lamahuran Hospital .
Despite begging the Lamahuran hospital to give my salary or release me from their contract the hospital administrator met my pleas with a deaf ear while promising me that I shall never work anywhere in Somaliland apart from Lamahuran.
After several consultations with Dr Abdisattar Yemeni (Contract signatory) he advised me to talk directly to the new sole owner Mr. Abdirizaq Omani.
Confident that now my tribulations will be over and being naïve I transferred my pleas to Mr. Abdirizaq Omani who not only told me he is not only unaware of my contract but never want to hear from me again … call ended.
To add salt to injury Eng Abdilhadey threatened that his boss, Mr. Omani, is the relative of a senior Somaliland figure thence will not pay anything unless I go back to work for him and forget past dues because he, Omani, is above the law- Unquote
In Syria when somebody is the relative a senior figure he can do anything go or bad because they are actually above the law
Quote- I tried to send many people who may have some influence on him, however, his reply was always “He should work in my hospital or I will not give him anything”.
I heard about such cases in Arabic Gulf area, where the sponsor may act with his employee as his slave and does not allow him to work in another place or allow him to travel abroad, and I never thought that could happen here in Somaliland.-Unquote
Armed with this information Somalilandsun and The Horn Tribune newspaper staff started on a mission to ascertain the facts and these is what we managed to unearth.
A lawyer (name withheld) whom we commissioned to follow up the case with Lamahuran was bribed out of the case by Eng Abdilhadey thence our decision to meet this Syrian who was so powerful in Somaliland where he could threaten anybody with impunity.
Eng Abdilhadey a civil engineer working for Omani in roads and Egal airport construction projects in the country and now the Lamahuran hospital administrator promised to effect payment of the same in three days but at the Egal airport as Dr Firas and his wife leaves the country.
Why would you want him to leave the country?
A. Because he is a cardiologist thence a rare commodity in Somaliland and will not allow him to work anywhere else.
After entreating him to reconsider he bluntly told us, (me and two other journalists) that his word was final and there was nothing we could do about.
Though being threatened by a foreigner in our own country was more than we could stomach we decided to hold our horses and try help the now destitute Dr Firas Aljanadi and his wife.
Eng Abdilhadey will you reconsider your decision or put us through to your boss?
A. My decision is final thence no need to contact my boss, Omani, who is a powerful person in Somaliland but I can give you $300 so as to forget the whole issue of Dr Firas
Though the bribery was good money we were confounded by the confidence of this Syrian engineer now dabbling as hospital administrator thus rejected his offer and left.
Having organized for the Syrian couple to be licensed as medical practitioners at the Health Professionals commission we pursued the Dr Abdisattar the Yemeni who signed the Firas and Mrs. Contracts.
The good Dr informed us that the contract with Firas was legal and though it was not personally with him but for the hospital thence Mr. Abdirizaq Omani is the person to pay the past dues and release Firas from his contractual arrangements.
Once it became apparently clear that the Firas tribulations ended with Omani and Omani only and upon communication with him being the next cause of action my two journalist colleagues for reasons known to them opted out of further investigations.
With trepidation I contacted Omani and queried him on the Firas issue and his replies were
“He is not my employee thence he should seek his salary or salaries from whoever brought him to the country”
On the issue of the Firas contract being with Lamahuran and not the Yemeni Doctor, Mr. Abdirizaq Omani retorted by saying that he will never pay a penny to Firas and there is nothing he can do because so far he has reported to the police and to lawyers all in vain”
While all this was going on Dr Firas and his wife were getting into more serious problems as pertained to borrowed foods and unpaid house rent thus decision to seek employment elsewhere to enable him pay his creditors and look for means to get out of the country,.
On this issue and as we go to press Dr Firas Aljanadi had this to say
Finally, as Ramadan became closer I went to the NHPC (National Health professions commission) looking for a solution. I gratefully thank of Dr Ahmed Hashi the head of the NHPC for giving me a license to work as a doctor in Somaliland and helped me break the Lamahuran hospital Contract.
I also thank the Somaliland deputy health minister Miss Nimo Hussein Qawdan , who helped me get work me to work at the governmental hospital .The owner of the hospital refuses now more to pay my money ,especially after I am planning to work in another place .
Since the first moment I had arrived here I respected this country and its peaceful people. I know and appreciate how much Somaliland people sympathize and feel compassion for Syrian people who suffer nowadays from what they suffered before. I wanted to mention my problem to find a solution, and on the other hand to highlight these sick behaviors in your fast developing society-Unquote
Hopeful somebody somewhere in authority shall especially in this holy month of Ramadan do some needful to help not only Dr Firas and is wife get their unpaid dues but to put a stop to this sickening behavior as well.