16 March – Source: VOA News – 480 Words
Somali pirates on Thursday released a hijacked oil tanker and its eight-man Sri Lankan crew without any conditions or ransom payments. The release followed a gunfight earlier in the day between the pirates and a marine force, and then intensive negotiations between the marine force, clan elders and the pirates. Two people in the Somali town of Haabo were wounded as naval forces traded fire with men trying to ferry supplies to the tanker. Witnesses told VOA’s Somali service that the navy of Somalia’s Puntland region intercepted a boat it thought was taking food to the gunmen holding the Aris 13 and its crew.
John Steed, regional manager of the watchdog group Oceans Without Piracy, told VOA, “They [the pirates] were given an offer they could not refuse — live or die. They were surrounded [with] nowhere to go, so pragmatism won in the end.” Officials said local elders negotiated the release of the Aris 13 and that as part of the negotiations, the pirates were allowed to leave the vessel and return to shore. The Puntland government also reportedly granted them immunity.
The Sri Lanka-flagged ship is owned by Armi Shipping SA and is operated by Aurora Ship Management, both based in the United Arab Emirates. Gunmen in two skiffs hijacked the Aris 13 Monday off the coast of Somalia as it traveled from Djibouti to Mogadishu carrying fuel and gas. The hijackers, who insisted they were fishermen, not pirates, said they wanted “compensation” for illegal fishing off the coast of Somalia, but did not make specific ransom demands.
- Somali Pirates Release Oil Tanker Crew Without Ransom (VOA News)
- London Celebrates Somali Achievement At The 2nd Annual International Somali Awards (Hiiraan Online)
- Diarrhea Outbreak Kills 40 In Southern Somalia (Shabelle News)
- Turkish Airlines Steps In To Help Famine-hit Somalia (Anadolu Agency)
- Somali Faces Helps Raise Funds For Somalia Drought Victims As GoFundMe Denies Group Fee Waiver (Nep Journal)
- Somali Islamists Let Drought-hit Civilians Roam In Search Of Food (Reuters)
16 March – Source: Hiiraan Online – 447 Words
Somalis from around the world descended on Church House Conference Centre in London on Wednesday to honour achievements in sport, business, education, innovation, and entertainment within the Somali community. Organizers pledged 100% of the proceeds from the black tie event be donated to assist in relief efforts for the ongoing drought in Somalia. Farah Gabdon began the award ceremony with a touching poem about what it means to be Somali “We have been largely defined by others, in language that isn’t ours: Squeezed into jagged words like Refugee, pirate, homeless.”
Hodan Hussein, one of the organizers of the event read out a congratulatory message on behalf of British Prime Minister Theresa May before the event began. Professional footballer Mukhtar Ali won the Sportsperson of the year award. The midfielder currently plays for the Dutch football club Vitesse on loan from Chelsea. Although Mukhtar is only 19 years old, he’s already being heralded as one of the best Somali footballers of all time. His brother accepted the award on his behalf. Dr. Amina Mogeh, a successful entrepreneur based in Uganda presented the Business of the Year award to Hass Petroleum. The group received the award just hours after announcing that they would be building Africa’s tallest building in Nairobi, standing at over 300 meters tall.
He said that Haas took its lead from watching multinational organizations do business in Somalia before the collapse of the central government. Today, Haas is active in 14 countries in East and Central Africa. Ahmed Adam Roble, a standout pupil who is one of 9 – and the only student from London – to win a full scholarship to attend the prestigious Eton college for the sixth form. The well spoken 16 year old dedicated his win to all Somali’s who are achievers. Legendary Somali singer Ahmed Naaji Sacad won the award for Best Entertainer. Also nominated for the award was Somali-Canadian singer Amaal Nuux, whose 2012 hit ‘Mufasa’ won her fans the world over. Ahmed Naaji’s two children accepted the award on behalf of their father who is currently in Nairobi recording a new song to raise awareness for the ongoing drought.
Diarrhea Outbreak Kills 40 In Southern Somalia
16 March – Source: Shabelle News – 128 Words
Forty three people have died over the past 10 days in an outbreak of diarrhoeal infection that is spreading through Bardere in southern Somalia’s Gedo region, according to local medical staff. Doctors in Bardere said 34 of the dead were children. Six deaths occurred in the area hospital, while 23 people died in various IDP camps in Bardere district. The rest of the deaths were reported from surrounding villages.
The hospital, which had been closed for 10 years because of insecurity in the region, reopened last week. Much of the countryside around the towns in Gedo region is controlled or contested by Al-Shabaab. A Local doctors said there were 120 patients, mostly children from the IDP camps, currently being treated in the hospital, which provides free medical care.
16 March – Source: Anadolu Agency – 222 Words
Turkish Airlines have responded to a call to help send aid to famine-struck Somalia. The flag carrier acted when the hashtag #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia was shared hundreds of thousands of times after Vine and Snapchat star Jerome Jarre started a social media campaign to highlight the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Somalia. He then discovered that Turkish Airlines was the only company flying to the Horn of Africa country. “Maybe I am going to sound crazy now but what if we could find an airplane? And we filled it with food and water and sent it to Somalia?” he said in a video.
A number of celebrities, including actor Ben Stiller, repeated his plea. The airline responded via Twitter: “We love Somalia. We got the call for this meaningful flight”. On March 4, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for people to take part in the Turkish Red Crescent aid campaign for Somalia. The president of the Red Crescent, Kerem Kinik, thanked Stiller for raising awareness and said the charity was preparing three ships and three cargo planes to Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan with Turkish Airlines.
According to the UN, more than 20 million people are on the brink of starvation in east Africa, including around 1.4 million children. Turkey has provided more than $121.9 million since 2011 through the Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, the Turkish Red Crescent and the Directorate of Religious Affairs.
16 March – Source: Nep Journal – 408 Words
Somali Faces, an online platform set up to share stories of the Somali people from around the world, has helped raise over $60,000 after eight days of fundraising through crowdfunding platform GoFundMe.com as well paypal and bank transfers among other means. Up to 1658 well-wishers donated to the cause. GoFundMe however denied to implement the group’s request to waive transaction fees even after an online petition signed by more than 1000 people. Led by Civil rights commissioner at Minneapolis Commission on Civil Rights Mr. Liban Adam, Somali Faces said they chose GoFundMe.com because of its popularity but the platform charged them transaction fees of up to $5,715 out of the $66,150 they have raised.
GoFundMe charges a 5 percent platform fee and 2.9 percent (plus, $0.30) payment processing, a total of 7.9 percent per donation. The petition reads, “In this time of dire need, we request GoFundMe to show support and let 100 percent of donations directly benefit the drought victims in the Horn of Africa.” “We contacted them and asked if they could waive those fees, but they said they can’t,” Mohammed Shire, co-founder of Somali Faces, said. “Since this is a huge crises we are hoping for GoFundMe to waive those fees given that, in the past, they’ve already waived these fees.” He added.
Previously, the crowdfunding platform gave a $100,000 donation, which amounted to the waiver of their transaction fees, to the Orlando shooting GoFundMe campaign. During the Nepal earthquake GoFundMe donated the 5 percent campaign fee towards relief initiatives. “Out of every $100 that is raised, eight to nine dollars are given to the website,” Hussein Ali, petition signee and GoFundMe fundraiser, said. “This is the worst humanitarian crises since 1945, and the victims need all the financial support they can get.”
OPINION, ANALYSIS, AND CULTURE
“About quarter of a million people died during the last famine in 2011, when al Shabaab’s restrictions on movement and its refusal to allow many aid groups access pushed up the death toll, aid groups say.”
16 March – Source: Reuters – 498 Words
Somali Islamists are letting civilians in drought-hit regions under their control move with relative freedom to find food, the group and a U.N. official said on Thursday, but they are continuing to restrict the access of international aid groups. Somalia, struggling to recover from more than 25 years of civil war and an ongoing battle between its U.N.-backed government and Islamist insurgents, could sink into famine if the April rains fail. About quarter of a million people died during the last famine in 2011, when al Shabaab’s restrictions on movement and its refusal to allow many aid groups access pushed up the death toll, aid groups say.
This time, the insurgents say people can move. “We do not stop those who want to leave for other places, they are free,” Sheikh Suldan Aala Mohamed, the chairman of al Shabaab’s drought emergency committee, told Reuters. Al Shabaab, an al Qaida linked Islamist group, has lost large swathes of territory in recent years to pro-government regional militias and African Union peacekeepers supporting the weak federal government. Although it lost control of most major cities, it is still strong in parts of rural southern Somalia. Justin Brady, the head of the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said he had met several residents who recently left al Shabaab territory and were concerned they would be unable to return.
“If they return from areas of government control, they will be viewed with suspicion and subject to abuse,” Brady said. “It will be unfortunate, if there are decent rains, that they cannot go back with tools and seeds.” Brady said al Shabaab still restricted aid workers’ access. Death rates related to cholera and diarrhea in al Shabaab-held areas were 4.5 times higher than in government-held areas, the United Nations says. “We cannot reach people with the most basic interventions such as water purification tablets, soap, or jerry cans to improve their water,” Brady said. Cholera has broken out in 11 of 18 regions as wells dry up and families drink infected water.