08 March – Source: Associated Press – 223 Words
The U.N. Secretary General on Wednesday urged more funding for African Union troops in Somalia battling Islamic extremists trying to take over the country. The African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, needs consistent funding in order to meet its objectives in fighting terrorism and stabilizing the country, Antonio Guterres said.
The AU force in Somalia has about 22,000 troops from Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Burundi, but questions are growing about Somalia’s security as the force plans to withdraw from the country by the end of 2020. Observers say Somalia’s national forces aren’t yet prepared to take over. The European Union has been the primary donor supporting the force by about $200 million per year, but last year it announced it would cut its funding by 20 percent.
First deployed in 2007, the force has been instrumental in pushing the al-Qaida-linked extremists of Al-Shabaab from the capital, Mogadishu, and other major cities and towns. “My belief is that AMISOM is under-equipped in relation to the needs,” Guterres said. “AMISOM is doing a remarkable work in very precarious conditions.” The U.N. chief spoke during a joint press conference with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and later answered questions during a press briefing. Guterres on Tuesday made an emergency visit to Somalia, where he witnessed the impact of a severe drought.
- UN Chief: Steady Funding Needed For AU Troops In Somalia (Associated Press)
- Luuq District Commissioner Escapes Assassination Attempt (Goobjoog News)
- Puntland Forces Seize Custom Office Bomb Blast Rips Through MP’s Car In Galkayo (Garowe Online)
- We’ve To Shut Dadaab For Security Uhuru Kenyatta Tells UN (Daily Nation)
- Hungry Somali Families Face Agonising Choice: Which Child To Feed (Reuters)
- Al-Shabaab Top Leader Hussein Mukhtar Surrenders To Somali Army (The Star)
- Somali-Americans Make Political Strides In Minnesota (Market Place)
- Somalia: ‘People Depend On Food Aid To Prevent Deaths’ (Deutsche Welle)
Luuq District Commissioner Escapes Assassination Attempt
08 March – Source: Goobjoog News – 506 Words
Luuq District commissioner Mohamed Hassan Ganey has narrowly escaped an assassination attempt which killed one of his bodyguards and five others after a bomb fitted into his car went off on Wednesday. The local authorities in Luq said Ganey was slight injured in the blast and was rushed to Luuq Hospital where he is being treated. “The DC escaped death narrowly and his condition is stable now,” said local officer in Luuq town of Southern region Gedo.
Somali police officer speaking on condition of anonymity has confirmed the attack, saying Ganey was heading to his home at the time of the car bomb blast. Police have reached the scene of the blast and launched a security search to arrest suspects, but no arrests were made, according to eyewitnesses. No group has claimed credit for the bomb attack, but Al-Shabaab has carried out similar car bombs in the past.
Puntland Forces Seize Custom Office, Bomb Blast Rips Through MP’s Car In Galkayo
08 March – Source: Garowe Online – 463 Words
Soldiers of Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland have staged mutiny on Wednesday in Garowe city and seized control of custom office located at southwest entrance control over unpaid salaries. Eyewitnesses told GO that soldiers have seized control of the custom office and demanded their overdue salaries and government entitlements for over 7 months. In February, Puntland commandos were reported to have seized control of Parliament headquarters and blocked main roads in Garowe complaining about poor welfare and unpaid salaries, however, the situation was resolved following intervention by clan elders and officials.
The seizure of the offices came following an announcement by senior army officials that state troops didn’t receive wages for 30 months particularly soldiers stationed in Nugal, Ayn and Sool regions. On February, Puntland’s Finance Minister said the administration has paid the wages in monthly basis and denied reports of outstanding wages. But senior army officials condemned the statement by the Finance Minister and noted it is intended to cause rift between the military forces and their commanders and reiterated that Puntland government had not paid wages over two years. It’s noteworthy that since the election of President Ali in January 2014, civil servants and security forces have frequently protested over poor working conditions and lack of payments by Puntland administration.
Meanwhile, a state parliamentarian has sustained serious injuries after a bomb blast has ripped through his vehicle in Galkayo, the regional capital of Mudug region on Wednesday. A bomb was fitted under MP Abdul Qadir Farah Botan’s car and was detonated soon after he left Classic Hotel in Galkayo en-route to his residence, according to sources. Following the blast Botan was rushed to the hospital immediately to receive necessary treatment. However, no group has claimed responsibility of the attack, but authorities suspect that Al-Shabaab militants are behind the attempt to assassinate the MP. Government officials have increasingly been targeted in attacks in Puntland region in the past months by unknown assailants suspected to be linked to Al-Shabaab and ISIS groups.
08 March – Source: Daily Nation – 555 Words
President Uhuru Kenyatta says the Dadaab refugee complex will have to be closed for the good of the region, in spite of incessant campaigns by rights groups to have the plan abandoned. At a joint press conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President Kenyatta argued the camp as it is today no longer serves its original purpose of offering temporary shelter. “Our policy has been clear for some time: The events that led to the establishment of Dadaab are terribly tragic and the best response to that tragedy is to help refugees to return and rebuild their nation,” he said at State House, Nairobi.
“And that is Kenya’s policy and our efforts to hasten repatriation and resettlement of refugees. But as always, these efforts shall remain guided by relevant domestic and international laws.” But Mr Guterres, touring the region for the first time, after taking over as the 9th UN chief, said he had had had “positive” discussions with the Kenyan President on various issues affecting the Horn of Africa. With drought ravaging the region, the UN has put up a $4 billion funding appeal to deal with the crisis that has affected Kenya, Somalia, parts of Ethiopia and South Sudan.
On Tuesday, he was in Mogadishu where he raised the alarm of a possible famine if new funding is not met. On Wednesday, he was in Nairobi where he declared “total support” for efforts to combat drought in the country. But the former head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also knows he has to plead with Kenya not to send back refugees just yet. President Kenyatta spoke just weeks after the High Court in Nairobi ruled that the planned repatriation of refugees would be unconstitutional.
Justice John Mativo ruled that Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and his PS Karanja Kibicho had no powers to order closure of the camp, despite claims that there were serious security, environmental and economic concerns. The government initially said it would appeal the decision. On Wednesday, the President said his government would continue to discuss the matter with stakeholders to find a possible solution.
08 March – Source: Reuters – 414 Words
Somali mothers are facing an agonising choice over how to divide their shrinking food supply among hungry children as a devastating drought kills off livestock and leaves the Horn of Africa nation facing the possibility of famine. “If there’s a very small amount of food, we give it to those who need it the most – the youngest,” said Fatuma Abdille, who arrived in the capital of Mogadishu two weeks ago with her seven children after the family’s herd of goats perished from hunger.
The drought has shrivelled grass and dried up water holes. In Bay, a key agricultural region, the United Nations says the harvest has dropped by more than 40 percent. Now the United Nations is warning that the country risks a repeat of the 2011 famine that killed around 260,000 people. Aid workers are asking for $825 million to provide aid to 6.2 million Somalis, about half the country’s population. The appeal comes after U.S. President Donald Trump signed a revised executive order suspending travel to the United States from six mainly Muslim nations, including Somalia. Trump has justified that measure on national security grounds. He has also said he will slash budgets for U.S. aid and diplomacy.
That could reduce the support for the new U.N.-backed government, which is fighting to overcome an Islamist insurgency. Somalia had been plagued by civil war for more than a quarter of a century. Insecurity prevents aid workers from accessing parts of the country, so in many parts of Somalia, families from rural areas are flooding into cities in search of food. As water sources evaporate, many families are forced to drink water infected with deadly cholera bacteria. The outbreak has affected nearly 8,000 people has killed more than 180 so far.
08 March – Source: The Star – 277 Words
Top Al-Shabaab leader Hussein Mukhtar on Tuesday surrendered to the Somali National Army in Baidoa. The African Union Mission in Somalia termed Mukhtar’s decision courageous and urged other fighters in the terror group to surrender to authorities. “Amisom hopes that other sons and daughters of Somalia who have been misled into terrorist acts will [emulate Mukhtar],” the mission said via Twitter. “[They should] lay down their weapons and join other Somalis in rebuilding their country,” it added, noting the government had offered amnesty.
The insurgency in Somalia wants to topple the government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam. Al Shabaab ruled most of south-central Somalia until 2011 when it was driven out of Mogadishu by African Union troops. Despite the loss of territory, the terror group still carries out major gun and bomb attacks against nations that have contributed troops to Amisom. On March 2, Kenya said its forces had killed 57 militants in a battle in southern Somalia but the group denied any of its fighters had died in the clash.
Kenya Defence Forces spokesman Colonel Joseph Owuoth said the ambush took place 31 kilometres northwest of Afmadow at 8.45am. He said the troops used artillery and helicopter gunships against the militants. In January, Al-Shabaab fighters attacked a Kenyan military base in the southern Somali town of Kulbiyow near the border. KDF said nine soldiers died, while al Shabaab said it killed at least 66. Somalia has been torn apart by civil war since 1991 and now a drought threatens to tip the Horn of Africa nation into famine. Last month parliamentarians elected a new president who vowed to stamp out al Shabaab.
08 March – Source: Market Place – 463 Words
Minnesota is home to the nation’s largest Somali-American population, including U.S. citizens, their children and more recent newcomers. And after about 25 years of building their lives here, they’re pushing for increased investments in their community. Somalia is one of the predominantly Muslim countries targeted by President Donald Trump’s new travel ban, which he signed March 6. The executive order blocks visa processing for nationals from Somalia and five other countries for 90 days.
Many Somali-Americans say they’re feeling public scrutiny now more than ever, even though they’re long accustomed to juggling multiple identities in this country. “We’re black, we’re Muslim, we’re refugees,” said Hamse Warfa, a social entrepreneur from the Minneapolis area who disagrees with Trump’s immigration restrictions. “For me, it really reinforces why I need to double my efforts in the work I’m engaged.”
For Warfa, that work includes facilitating a new coalition that is pressing lawmakers for millions of dollars in state funding. The Coalition of Somali American Leaders, which comprises about a dozen nonprofits from across the state that serve Somali Minnesotans, represents a new way for this community to lobby at the state Capitol. Rather than going solo, members say they’re banding together as a unified voice as they make the case for why their community needs increased financial support. They’re working toward a set of shared goals, including economic development, preventative and mental health care, education and housing.
“It’s good for the state to invest in those kinds of programs instead of addressing the aftermath of disparity, which is usually where the money goes,” said coalition member Fartun Weli, who leads Isuroon, a nonprofit serving Somali women and girls. “Right now we’re saying, ‘We have the skills, we know the community. Invest in us, and then we can build the community from the bottom up so they’re not stuck in poverty forever,'” Weli said. First-year Minneapolis Rep. Ilhan Omar, of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, is the nation’s first Somali-American legislator. She’s proud to see nonprofit leaders in her community work collectively.
OPINION, ANALYSIS, AND CULTURE
“Our teams on the ground are prepared, are ready, and we are in a position to prevent a situation like in 2011, where just in Somalia, 250,000 people died due to hunger. We can prevent such a situation, we have the knowledge, we have a team in place but we are still lacking international funding to help people to a scale where we can prevent such deaths.”
08 March – Source: Deutsche Welle – 718 Words
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described the humanitarian situation in Somalia as ‘a nightmare.’ Half the country’s population needs aid according to Guterres who was making his first trip to the region. Somalia’s drought has already claimed the lives of 110 people and the shortage of safe drinking water has caused a cholera outbreak in Baidoa, southwestern Somalia. DW spoke to children’s rights activist Joachim Rahmann of the NGO Save the Children who recently returned from a visit to Somalia’s Puntland region.
DW: How big a problem is food security in Puntland?
Joachim Rahmann: Food security in all parts of Somalia is currently a grave problem. Save the Children has been working in the country for several years, actually before the current drought. One has to note that the current drought started in 2015 as a result of four consecutive below or average rainy seasons. What we are now seeing is a country that is largely dependent on livestock in a very severe crisis. As I said, this affects all of the country. During our visit, we observed families which previously had 200 goats and were dependent on these livestock but now their entire herds have died. People now depend on international assistance to prevent further deaths.
What are organizations like Save the Children doing to ensure that the fatalities are kept to a minimum?
Save the Children is focusing on really big issues that we can deal with in the current crisis. First of all, we are providing food, cash and fodder for animals. This is to stabilize the economic situation through the assistance to the herds but especially the situation for the families and also for children. We also track water for families that don’t have access to safe drinking water anymore. We are also hiring local health workers to set up mobile clinics that can go to more rural areas where people don’t normally have access to healthcare, and where people are at risk of dying either from hunger or water-borne diseases like diarrhea like was the case with the deaths witnessed.
What are conditions like elsewhere on the Horn of Africa?
Other countries in the region like Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan are also very heavily affected by the drought. In Kenya and Ethiopia, we see that there are widespread government responses, but even those very effective government responses are not sufficient and international organizations like Save the Children have to step in. Both in Somalia as well other countries I have mentioned, our capacity to help people is currently much higher than the funding that allows us to respond. Our teams on the ground are prepared, are ready, and we are in a position to prevent a situation like in 2011, where just in Somalia, 250,000 people died due to hunger. We can prevent such a situation, we have the knowledge, we have a team in place but we are still lacking international funding to help people to a scale where we can prevent such deaths.