21 March – Source: Xinhua – 366 Words
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc, is to convene an international summit Saturday, to discuss the status of nearly 1 million Somali refugees displaced by two decades of civil strife and prolonged humanitarian crises, organizers said Monday. Kenyan government, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and IGAD, said in a statement the Nairobi Summit would “marshal a comprehensive regional approach” to find a lasting solution to the crisis facing the Somali refugees as they prepare to return to their homeland to rebuild their lives.
“Continuing political and the growing security stabilization progress in Somalia, along with growing pressure in host communities, makes this a critical moment to renew the process to find durable solutions for Somali refugees,” the organizers of the summit said in a statement. Aid agencies and government officials say some two million Somali refugees have been displaced in Somalia, one of the world’s most protracted political and humanitarian crises nearing its third decade. A generation of Somali refugees has never set foot at home and remains at refugee camps in neighboring countries having been born and raised during the protracted civil and humanitarian crises.
UN agencies estimate nearly 1.1 million Somalis are internally displaced inside the Horn of Africa nation and some 900,000 are refugees in neighboring countries — Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda. Somalia’s Federal Government says amongst its key priorities have been to deal with the issue of displaced refugees within the country by providing basic services before moving to refugees in the neighboring countries to stem the potential for conflicts over scarce resources. However, the Somali government has been decrying its limited ability to provide basic services.
- IGAD Summit To Convene On The Status Of 1 Million Somali Refugees (Xinhua)
- Al-Shabaab Suspects Nabbed In Jowhar Following Bomb Attack (Garowe Online)
- U.N. Seeks Inquiry Into Deadly Assault On Migrant Boat Near Yemen (New York Times)
- UAE Denies Targeting Somali Refugee Boat (Khaleej Times)
- Actor Ben Stiller Joins Social Media Drive To Raise $2 Mln For Somalia (Reuters)
- US And Ethiopia Train AU Soldiers To Fight Al-Shabaab In Somalia (EBL News)
- Kenyan Police Intensify Search For 2 Kidnapped Teachers In Dadaab Refugee Camp (Xinhua)
- With Reduced Patrols And Illegal Fishing Somalia’s Pirates Could Be Making A comeback (Quartz)
Al-Shabaab Suspects Nabbed In Jowhar Following Bomb Attack
20 March – Source: Garowe Online – 166 Words
Somali security forces have carried out a security sweep in Jowhar town, the interim seat of Hirshabelle state, arresting scores of suspects on Monday. A security official told Garowe Online that forces have conducted search operations in several neighborhoods and houses in the southern town and arrested suspects in relation to a grenade attack on local elder’s house. Monday’s crackdown in Jowhar came after unknown assailants hurled a grenade into a house belonging to Sheikh Muse, a well-known elder said to have been involved in the formation process of Hirshabelle state.
A member of the elder’s security guards was killed in the bomb blast, while several other civilians were wounded, and admitted to a local hospital where they are currently being treated, according to residents. The suspects are currently held at the local police station undergoing investigation fir possible links with militant group Al-Shabaab, said the security official who spoke on condition of anonymity. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the grenade attack in Jowhar.
20 March – Source: New York Times – 458 Words
The United Nations on Monday called for an inquiry into an aerial assault on a boat of migrants last week off Yemen’s Red Sea coast that left at least 42 people dead. The attack on the boat, believed to be carrying 145 people leaving Yemen, was among the most horrific episodes of deadly violence on asylum seekers there since Saudi Arabia and its allies entered the country’s civil war and began an air campaign against the Houthi rebels two years ago. The boat assault also illustrated the vibrant trade in people-smuggling between the Horn of Africa and Yemen, a congregation point for tens of thousands of Africans fleeing their own countries.
Most of the passengers aboard the vessel were believed to be Somalis who had been staying in Yemen and were trying to reach Sudan. United Nations officials have registered nearly 280,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Yemen, mostly from Somalia. Filippo Grandi, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, described the assault as an “unwarranted attack on helpless civilians fleeing violence and conflict” in a statement from the refugee agency’s Geneva headquarters. “Many questions remain unanswered on the circumstances of this horrific event,” Mr. Grandi said. “We call on all parties to the conflict to make proper inquiries to ensure accountability and to prevent this from happening again.”
Officials in Yemen initially said forces of the Saudi-led coalition had been responsible for the attack, which occurred on Friday about 30 miles from the western Yemen port of Al Hudaydah. Saudi officials denied responsibility, saying none of the coalition’s forces had been operating in the area. They also said Al Hudaydah should be placed under United Nations supervision, describing it as a conduit for weapons smuggling and people-smuggling. On Saturday the government of Somalia, which is a member of the Saudi coalition, also called for an investigation.
20 March – Source: Khaleej Times – 154 Words
An official source in the UAE Armed Forces has said that the UAE Armed Forces did not target the Somali refugee boat which was travelling from the coast of Yemen to Sudan. Citing preliminary investigations into the incident, the source declared that the UAE Armed Forces have clearly recognised the non-military nature of the boat which was carrying a large number of civilians. The source said that in light of this information, the UAE Armed Forces adhered to the strict engagement rules preventing them from targeting any non-military targets.
The source added the investigations indicate the possibility that the boat was targeted by the Houthi rebel forces operating in the region. It also added that the UAE Armed Forces seek to determine more accurately the details associated with “the unprovoked attack, which resulted in a painful humanitarian disaster”. The source stressed that the UAE Armed Forces welcome any independent international investigation into the incident.
20 March – Source: Reuters – 405 Words
Hollywood actor Ben Stiller has teamed up with social media stars to raise $2 million for people facing starvation in Somalia amid a devastating drought. The Zoolander actor is now trying to recruit other celebrities including Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, Beauty and the Beast actress Emma Watson and model Carla Delevingne to support the Love Army for Somalia initiative which has already raised over $1.8 million since Friday. An initial flight will take off next Monday with 60 tonnes of food for Somalia where more than 6 million people – about half the population – need help.
The United Nations is warning that Somalia risks slipping back into famine as worsening drought leaves millions without food, water or healthcare in a country crippled by decades of war. The campaign began when Stiller’s friend, Vine and Snapchat personality Jerome Jarre, recorded a message on Twitter in which he pleaded with Turkish Airlines – that flies directly to Somalia – to fill one of its flights with food. Stiller then recorded his own Twitter message urging the airline to take up the challenge.
“It’s kind of a crazy idea,” Stiller said in the video. “But I think it could work … and it could create a snowball effect to get people to take action.” The group, which is raising money through fundraising platform GoFundMe, said Turkish Airlines had quickly come on board with a full cargo plane and the offer of shipping further deliveries to Somalia on its commercial aircraft. Others kickstarting the movement include American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick and YouTube phenomenon Casey Neistat. “This is the story of what can happen when the power of social media is leveraged for something good,” Neistat said in a YouTube video.
20 March – Source: EBL News – 293 Words
Military personnel from the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM) gathered Monday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for training aimed at countering the threat from the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab. The Justified Accord Exercise 2017, the first such training held in Ethiopia, was organized jointly by the US and Ethiopian armed forces, US military sources said. AMISOM members from Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, as well as Somali soldiers, were attending the training facilitated by the US, the Netherlands, Britain, the AU and the UN.
“Almost 100 participants from a total of eight nations have assembled here to establish and maintain peace … in the East Africa region,” said Brigadier Jon A Jensen, deputy commander of the US Army in Africa. “We will spend a week here looking at a specific scenario. This week our specific scenario is the African Union mission in Somalia,” he added. Ethiopian Colonel Elias Seyoum said the training would be followed by a field exercise in 2018.
“The aim is to change the AMISOM mission’s leadership to a Somalia government-led one by 2020,” Seyoum said. “But this isn’t an exit strategy,” he added, saying the move would not mean the handover of all operations to the government in Mogadishu. “Al-Shabaab’s fighting capability has declined by up to 40 per cent in recent years, but its ability to use suicide bombs and detonators has increased,” Seyoum said.
20 March – Source: Xinhua – 133 Words
Police in the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya have intensified an operation aimed at rescuing two teachers who were abducted by Al-Shabaab militants a fortnight ago. Local police boss Aaron Moriasi told reporters on Monday there are suspicions the kidnapped teachers could be hidden in Dadaab refugee camp. He revealed that 200 suspects have so far been arrested and will be probed to shed light on the kidnapping of teachers.
“The arrested suspects will be investigated to enable police to obtain more leads to the kidnapping saga,” said Moriasi. Cases of kidnappings linked to Somalia based Al-Shabaab militants are common in north eastern Kenya. In February, two heavily armed suspected Al-Shabaab militants stormed into a school compound in Dadaab refugee camp but their attempts to abduct a female teacher were foiled.
OPINION, ANALYSIS, AND CULTURE
“A UN report estimated that $300 million worth of seafood is stolen from Somalia’s coastline every year. But with the right policies and production, the fisheries sector could provide food security, employment, and contribute to the growth of the economy.”
20 March – Source: Quartz – 461 Words
Last week (Mar. 16), Somali pirates finally released a Comoros-flagged oil tanker that they seized off the coast of Somalia a few days earlier. They agreed to forego their demand for ransom after learning that a Somali businessman had hired the ship to take oil from Djibouti to the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The incident was evidence for those who argue piracy off the Somali shores isn’t over yet despite it being the first major pirate attack since 2012. For such people, it also showed some of the motives that led to its piracy’s original emergence still persist. Ship hijacks and attacks in Somali waters were a very regular occurrence between 2009 to 2011 but have been out of the news for several years. Yet they were seared into global public consciousness in 2013 by the Tom Hanks’ Hollywood movie, Captain Phillips, which dramatized a traumatic ship hijack by Somali pirates.
Even with the overall decline of the anti-piracy industry, “the Somali coast was and still is a high-risk area,” says Ousa Okello, an international maritime lawyer based in Mombasa. Vessels have continued to report suspicious activity related to piracy and attempted attacks. The attack on the Aris 13 oil tanker was the first successful hijack for ransom since 2012. The pirates who attacked it said they were frustrated fishermen out to defend their waters from foreign vessels that destroy their equipment during expeditions.
Originally, piracy acted as a deterrent and chased some illegal trawlers, says Timothy Walker, a maritime security researcher at the Institute for Security Studies. But the counter-piracy patrols, whose mandate does not extend to preventing illegal fishing, has created a situation where “many perceive the patrols as protecting their own fishing fleets.” This “creates an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion in which old grievances and current concerns interact.” In Nov. 2016, after a sharp decrease in attacks, NATO ended its anti-piracy mission in Somalia. The international coordinated effort has been successful in protecting ships and providing them with best industry practices.
Somalia has the longest coastline in continental Africa—over 3,300 kilometers of turquoise beaches and ports. But the country’s fishing industry is small-scale and lacks the requisite institutional structure to support it. A UN report estimated that $300 million worth of seafood is stolen from Somalia’s coastline every year. But with the right policies and production, the fisheries sector could provide food security, employment, and contribute to the growth of the economy.