12 March – Source: Reuters – 398 Words
Hundreds of soldiers went on strike in the Somali capital on Sunday, blocking roads and forcing businesses to close in protest over unpaid salaries, a challenge for the new president who has vowed to defeat Islamist militant group, al Shabaab. Reuters witnesses saw soldiers – some armed – stopping traffic at several locations including on two major roads and at two junctions. At the K5 junction, unarmed soldiers ordered shops and restaurants to close, and on Maka Al Mukaram, a major street, soldiers blocked traffic with a pickup truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun.
Captain Ali Osman, a military official told Reuters, that the soldiers were protesting to remind the president of his campaign promise to pay all arrears.”He was elected in February and now we are in the middle of March so we conducted a peaceful demo to remind the president of his promise because he has not paid us,” Osman said.Mohamed, a colonel who declined to give his second name, told Reuters that about 2,000 soldiers from two military bases, Villa Baidoa and the Ex-petrol Refinery, had come out on strike. “Soldiers from the two bases … and many other bases in and outside Mogadishu were not paid salary for 15 months,” he said. Military officials say Somalia’s army is 40,000 strong in Mogadishu and its surrounding regions. Semi-autonomous regions outside the capital’s immediate vicinity pay their own armies. Non-payment of wages is commonplace, leading to low morale and threatening the fight against Islamist insurgents.
“Soldiers found out that the 15 months pay was missing due to corruption,” Nur, a major who declined to give his second name, told Reuters without elaborating. But, he said, the soldiers had been told they would be paid two months in arrears, and according to Reuters witnesses, the demonstration ended within hours. Somali soldiers are paid about $100 a month but the United States and Britain, both major funders of efforts to rebuild the army, supplement that with an extra monthly payment of $100. Somalia’s new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, was sworn in last month and has promised to crush al Shabaab, which is fighting to topple the central government and rule the Horn of Africa nation according to Islamic law. Somalia has been mired in violence and lawlessness since early 1990s when dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled. No government spokesman was available to comment.
- Hundreds Of Somali Soldiers Protest In Mogadishu Over Unpaid Wages (Reuters)
- Puntland Government Releases Prominent Elder Accused Of Ties To Al Shabaab (Garowe Online)
- UN Delegation Reaches Adado On Drought Mission (Shabelle News)
- Somalia: Media Worker Wounded In Car Bomb Blast In Capital (Associated Press)
- Kenya Halts Mogadishu Embassy Project Over Insecurity (Business Daily)
- Aid Agency Warns Of Surge In Cholera Cases In Somalia (Xinhua)
- Seven Suspects Arrested In Malindi Were Funding Al-Shabaab – Police (The Star)
- In Somalia’s Hidden Famine The Children Die Without Names (Telegraph)
Puntland Government Releases Prominent Elder Accused Of Ties To Al Shabaab
12 March – Source: Garowe Online – 231 Words
Puntland authorities on Saturday released a prominent elder accused of having links to Al-Shabaab. Abdulqadir Ibrahim “Harago” a prominent clan elder in Bari region was under custody in the past two weeks but released after he was granted a pardon from Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali “Gaas” before his departure last Friday. The arrest of Harago came after he visited convicted Al-Shabaab suspects in Bosaso jail who were accused of carrying out assassinations. During an interview with the media, Harago stated that Puntland government has tortured the suspects to obtain false confession to crimes that they are allegedly accused of committing.
On the other hand, in a special interview with VOA, President Ali stated that he believed that clan elder Harago is a member of the terror group Al-Shabaab and his personal visit to the inmates in jail is intended to send a message to the group. Harago who claimed to be the spokesman for the clan elders in Bari region, is well-known for his involvement in Bari region’s politics and was part of the campaign calling for political change during the past Puntland presidential election in January 2014.
Bosaso, the regional capital of Bari region has witnessed in the past months surge of assassination attacks against government officials and civilian targets amid frequent protest of military and security forces demanding overdue salaries for over a year from Puntland government.
UN Delegation Reaches Adado On Drought Mission
12 March – Source: Shabelle News – 79 Words
A high-level delegation from the United Nations has arrived in Adado, a city in central Somalia which serves as the interim capital of Galmudug administration on Sunday. On arrival, the UN officials have paid a visit to the city’s main hospital, where they met with patients suffering from malnutrition and watery diarrhea caused by the biting drought. Sources in the town said the UN delegation was assessing the scale of drought situation in the areas under Galmudug state control.
12 March – Source: Associated Press – 118 Words
A journalist says a technician with his television station has been wounded in a car bomb blast in Somalia’s capital. Abdiaziz Ibrahim, a Somali journalist with London-based Universal TV, says technician Abdihamid Karzai was seriously injured when a bomb planted in his car exploded in a market in Mogadishu’s Hamarweyne district. He says Karzai, who had been heading to work Sunday morning, is being treated at a local hospital.
Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein confirms the incident and says the authorities are investigating. There is no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but the Islamic extremist group Al-Shabaab frequently carries out deadly attacks here. Somalia is often called one of the world’s most dangerous places for media workers.
12 March – Source: Business Daily – 338 Words
The insecurity in Somalia has seen Kenya halt construction of an embassy in Mogadishu, Foreign Affairs secretary Amina Mohamed told Parliament. She said a third of works at Mogadishu embassy, which includes construction of an office block, ambassador’s residence and four staff houses, had been done when building was stopped. Ms Mohamed told the National Assembly’s Defence and Foreign Affairs committee that the project commenced in August 2015 and was due for completion in December 2016. “However, it has slowed down due to security challenges. The project completion rate is at 35 per cent,” she told MPs when she appeared before the committee to defend the ministry’s Sh19.3 billion budget for 2017/18.
In March 2014, Kenya announced plans to reopen its embassy in Mogadishu to boost its diplomatic engagement with Somalia. The decision to re-establish the Kenyan mission in Somalia, she said, would help rebuild the war torn nation that recently elected a new president — Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. The Kenyan embassy to Somalia has been operating from Nairobi — at the NSSF Building — and many other Foreign missions have engaged Somalia from their Nairobi missions due to insecurity in Mogadishu.
Kenyan soldiers entered Somalia in 2011 to pursue Al-Shabaab militants who were attacking the country and abducting foreign tourists. The Kenya Defence Forces have since joined the United Nations-backed African Mission in Somalia force. Kenya, like many other nations, closed its embassy in Mogadishu in 1990 when factional fighting erupted there. The fighting led to a coup d’état against dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and the country plunged into anarchy that has since disintegrated into clan wars.
Somalia’s remaining international relations were strained to the limit after the slaughter of UN peacekeepers in Mogadishu and the killing of 18 United States special forces in 1993. Former President Mwai Kibaki in 2003 appointed an ambassador to Somalia for the first time in 13 years since anarchy and civil war engulfed the country. Countries such as Turkey and Britain have recently re-opened embassies in Mogadishu.
11 March – Source: Xinhua – 391 Words
A global aid agency, Save the Children, has warned of an increase in cholera cases in Somalia which has claimed 200 lives since January amid a looming famine. The charity said its health and nutrition clinics are reporting “all the early warnings signs” of an avoidable catastrophe, with deaths from cholera and acute watery diarrhea rising sharply. “These diseases are death sentences for children whose bodies have been weakened by hunger. More than 8,400 cases of the diseases have already been confirmed in 2017, 200 of which have been fatal,” the charity said in a statement. Save the Children officials are warning that the scale of the suffering is even greater than at the equivalent stage in 2011.
It also warned that the international community is repeating the failures that led to the deaths of over a quarter of a million Somalis in 2011. “The surge in deaths during the 2011 drought happened in April — and the drought was less severe then. The international community ignored the early warning signs, failed to act decisively and waited until July to declare a famine. They are now repeating all of the mistakes from the 2011 playbook,” said Hassan Saadi Noor, Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia. The number of cases has relentlessly increased since the drought began late last year; from fewer than 200 in the first week of November to nearly 1,400 in the second week of February.
Save the Children has dispatched an emergency treatment team to the epicentre of the cholera crisis, across the Bay region and its capital Baidoa, where 72 percent of the cases have been reported. “Saving these lives and rebuilding livelihoods will require concerted action by the international community, and that action needs to start now,” Noor said. The charity and other agencies are reporting a dramatic deterioration in child health and nutritional status. Some 6.2 million people, around half of the country, are in urgent need of support. “Given the weight of evidence, the scale of suffering and the memory of 2011, the international community’s response to the crisis facing Somalia’s children is indefensible and unforgivable,” said Noor. Save the Children called on donors to deliver immediate financing for Somalia. “We need to see the G7, other donors, and UN agencies drawing up a plan for delivering real money,” said Noor.
13 March – Source: The Star, Kenya – 354 Words
The six terror suspects arrested in Malindi on Friday night are believed to have been financing Al-Shabaab, officers have said. Those arrested were Salim Abdulkarim, his wife Nuru Swaleh, their daughters Fatma Salim, Feiruz Salim and Khadija Namaan and relative Abdulkarim Salim who was nabbed in Majengo. Police boss Matawa Muchangi said Hadija Swaleh, an 80-year old woman who was not taken into police custody because of her age, was another suspect.
Muchangi said she was the mother of Bajina Moslem, a most wanted terrorist who fled with the late al Qaeda leader Fazul Mohamed to Somalia in 2008. He said Mohamed escaped a police dragnet in Malindi in 2008 and has never returned home. Moslem is reportedly still in Somalia and is allegedly being financed by the suspects who were arrested.
The police boss said preliminary investigations revealed that the family had been sending money to Moslem and the terror group based in Somalia. Muchangi said Swaleh had been in touch with her son and often sent him money. “They normally collect the money from sympathisers,’’ he told the Star in a phone interview on Sunday. The police boss added that the suspect arrested in Majengo may be one of Al-Shabaab’s key financiers.
OPINION, ANALYSIS, AND CULTURE
“In some areas of Somalia – and the self-declared republic of Somaliland – there has been no rain for three years. The vast majority of the population are nomads but their animals have no pasture. Eight in ten of their livestock have died, depriving them of food and an income source. Crops have failed and water has run low.”
12 March – Source: Telegraph – 1,016 Words
On the parched plains of Somaliland, the latest victim of the drought is not even old enough to have a name. By local tradition, a sheep ought to have been slaughtered to name Khadra Saaed’s baby boy, but none could be found. So he died an unknown casualty of an unreported crisis, only seven days after he was born. That night, close to the village of Unuunley, his father buried him by moonlight. It was the tenth such burial he has attended in a month, as the worst drought ever recorded here has swept across the country. This family was once sustained by a hundred animals but is now down to its last goat. Ms Saeed has been surviving on one meal of rice a day and is so hungry that she could not produce breast milk to feed her malnourished son. Now that she has lost him, she has no time to grieve; she has four remaining children to worry about.
“I’m afraid they will also die,” she said. “Our situation is getting worse every day. We have lost everything.” Five times a day, she prays for rain. Not far away, in Boodhley, the men had been up most of the night, digging yet another grave. Until a few months ago, Omar Siad Elmi had been a stalwart of this village, where he has lived for 25 years. Last week, the 56-year-old passed away, another victim of starvation. One of his friends, a young man named Mohamad Jama Salebaa, stood over the plot where Mr Elmi’s body had been interred hours before. There are two dozen more graves in this makeshift cemetery in the orange-red dust, amid the ghostly grey remains of once-verdant bushes and the rotting carcasses of sheep and goats, their skulls scattered in the sand.
“We are very afraid. If the rain does not come, many people will suffer,” Mr Salebaa said. Then, pointing to the graves, he added: “We will be back here again.” In some areas of Somalia – and the self-declared republic of Somaliland – there has been no rain for three years. The vast majority of the population are nomads but their animals have no pasture. Eight in ten of their livestock have died, depriving them of food and an income source. Crops have failed and water has run low. According to aid workers, 6.2 million people are going hungry, with 71,000 children at high risk of death. Just last weekend, 110 people died of hunger in one region. And some fear this could be worse than the famine of 2011, which killed 260,000.