In a sign of how much the security situation in Somalia's capital has improved, the US has established a permanent diplomatic presence there for the first time in almost 28 years. In a sign of how dangerous Mogadishu remains, many staffers will remain at the US diplomatic mission to Somalia based in Nairobi, Kenya. The State Department said the permanent diplomatic mission was opened in a small ceremony Sunday. "This historic event reflects Somalia's progress in recent years," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement, per the BBC. The department still lists Somalia as "Level 4: Do Not Travel," and it's not clear whether Ambassador Donald Yamamoto will be moving to Mogadishu from Nairobi.
The US closed and evacuated its embassy in Mogadishu at the start of 1991 as Somalia's civil war intensified and the government collapsed. Officials have not disclosed how many diplomatic personnel will be moving to Mogadishu, where the US already had a facility for visiting staffers from Nairobi inside the heavily guarded airport security zone, ABC News reports. The announcement of the restoration of the permanent diplomatic presence comes 26 years to the day after George HW Bush announced that 20,000 American troops would be sent to the country to "save thousands of innocents from death." They were withdrawn after 18 service members were killed in the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" incident. (John Kerry announced America's return in a 2015 visit.)