On his fifth day in Djibouti, Nov. 16, 2010, Dave went with several other officers from Camp Lemonnier, their base camp in Djibouti, to the Djiboutian Presidential Palace to celebrate the Muslim Holy Day of Eid Al
Adha. The holiday celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. During this trip, Dave met American Embassy officials, including the U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti James Swan.
The Djiboutian President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh spoke to the group in both Arabic and French. Dave doesn’t speak either language but part of the translated message was one of encouragement for the people of Djibouti. The country remains at peace, in spite all the violence surrounding it. And the country maintains a good economic development, despite the world economy. This was something the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) hoped to support through its work in the area.
Djibouti’s population is 792,198, made up of mainly Somalians (60 percent), Afar (35 percent), and the other five percent French, Arab, Ethiopian and Italian. Three-fourths of the population lives in the capital city of Djibouti and the rest are nomadic herders. The main industries are services, industry and agriculture . The unemployment rate is 59 percent and 42 percent of the people live below the poverty level. The nation also continues to have economic and border ties to Somaliland and some political ties to factions in Somalia. (The World Factbook, 2013). While we would not consider this a “good” economy, the peace and stability of the country is encouraging to many in the region.
“What a great opportunity!” Dave wrote in his journal. To get to talk with embassy officials and hear the President speak in the same day was a good introduction to what he would experience in his travels.
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