This is in response to Djibouti Ambassador H.E. Robir Olhaye’s response to an earlier Congress blog.

I was not surprised to read what the ambassador had to say about the government. He completely rejected the article as a whole and did not concede a single point. I was not surprised that he would say such nice things about Djibouti. I mean how could he not? No one would dare to say anything against the man who is signing their checks.

Behind this façade of a perfect government, nothing is what it seems. The reality in Djibouti is far worse than how it’s being reported. The national television (RTD), being the mouthpiece of the government, can only paint a glossy picture that depicts Djibouti as a “utopia”.


Olhaye has been the permanent representative of Djibouti to the United Nations and the United States since 1988. I doubt that within that period, he has spent more than 2 weeks in Djibouti. I am more qualified than he is to tell you about the real Djibouti, because unlike him, I lived through it.

A couple of years ago, I packed my bags and decided to go back home. Home is where the heart is, I thought. I was excited to be back in familiar places. Although, nothing seemed familiar anymore. My excitement was short-lived. What I encountered what is beyond horrific. I couldn’t imagine that people lived in these conditions; it was inhumane. Djiboutians were lacking water, electricity and adequate healthcare. Hospitals are overcrowded, under-staffed and lack proper medications.

The government is not helping either. Thanks to the president and his “helpers”, the state treasury only serves as their wallet. They helped themselves from financing their next campaign to building their next castle. While the wealth gap dilemma is not unique, it couldn’t be more apparent in Djibouti. Unlike its neighbors, Djibouti enjoyed peace and stability. Djibouti has resources at its disposal. But the real culprit is the president, Ismail Omar Guelleh. He enjoys a luxurious lifestyle beyond what his “paycheck” as president can afford.

Let’s talk about how wasteful the government has proven to be. Djibouti has almost the same amount of ministers and vice-ministers as France. Mind you that Djibouti’s population is a mere 1 million compared to France's 66 million. Government departments sometimes overlap. Talk about redundancy and waste of resources.

People do not want any luxuries. All they ask is to have their basic necessities met. Some of the people I met were struggling financially. The electricity bill alone was more than half their paycheck. Yet, well-paid government officials are given a reduced electric bill or free electricity. The logic of having poor people pay their utilities and the rich skip on the tab is beyond any comprehension.

On the subject of Boreh, it’s no secret what the motive was. It has always been the modus operandi of the Guelleh regime to discredit or persecute anyone who dares to challenge them. That is the fact and we all know it. Whether we want to believe or admit it, it’s a whole different thing. But the Obama administration has done Guelleh a great favor. He can imprison any of us and say that we are “Al Qaeda sympathizers”, and that’s all she wrote.

Djibouti deserves to be recognized for what it is: A hell on earth.

Abdo is a medical billing student and a Djiboutian national living in the United States.