16 May – Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation – 416 Words
Prompt humanitarian action has kept drought-ridden Somalia from sliding into famine so far but more resources, better security and increased access to remote areas are needed to bring the country back from the brink, experts said on Tuesday. Almost 3 million people are facing starvation in the Horn of Africa nation that is suffering the effects of repeated rain failures and decades of conflict, according to the United Nations.A pre-famine alert was issued in February, a move that U.N. officials credit with helping to avert a repeat of the 2011 famine, when the aid response was slow and more than 250,000 people died of starvation.”After early warning in Feb, the combined actions from donors, humanitarians & Somali gvt have averted the worst scenario,” Dominique Burgeon, director of the emergency division at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a Twitter conversation hosted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
But some 6.2 million Somalis still require aid after drought withered crops, killed livestock and dried up waterholes, according to the United Nations.Heavy seasonal rains that started in April will allow farmers to plant crops but also bring cold and spread disease, a double threat for people and animals whose immune systems have been weakened by sustained hunger. “Large-scale relief assistance IS making a difference, but needs are rising. Race against time to #avertsomaliafamine,” wrote Challiss McDonough, a spokeswoman for the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP).
- Money Access And Security Main Challenges To Averting Famine In Somalia: Experts (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
- Puntland Prosecutor Orders Capture Of 18 For Piracy Activities (Somali Update)
- Gunfire Exchange Between Villa Somalia Guards And NISA Banadir Boss Leaves Two Dead (Jowhar.com)
- China Gives $1 Million USD to Help IDPs in Somalia (Global Times)
- Fighting Al-Shabaab Requires ‘Carrot and Stick’: U.N. Official (Newsweek)
- An American Documentary Captures the Odds Against Being a Soccer Player From Somalia (Quartz Media)
Puntland Prosecutor Orders Capture Of 18 For Piracy Activities
16 May- Source: Somali Update – 237 Words
A prosecutor in Somalia’s northeastern region of Puntland on Tuesday filed a criminal case against 18 men allegedly involved in recent piracy activities in the region, Somali Update reports.Puntland Attorney General Mohamed Hared said he filed the case to the First Degree Court in Garowe as he expects the high court will announce a sentence against the alleged pirates on absentia.”We have asked the police and the court to urgently arrest these pirates due to their role in attacking and hijacking ships near the Somali Coast.” Mr. Hared told reporters in Garowe on Tuesday morning shortly after he filed the criminal case against the said 18 men.
Among those accused are armed pirates who recently attacked the Indian-owned commercial vessel heading to Kismayo seaport.Mr. Hared warned young men who might have lured into the piracy activities saying that they will face the full force of the law if caught.”The government is committed to put piracy re-emergency on halt and prevent future attacks from our seashores.” He added.
This criminal case becomes the first in its kind and it is not yet clear how the region’s security forces will be able to arrest and prosecute armed pirates who are not currently in their custody. A week ago, three captured pirates were handed to Puntland authorities in Bosasso by Chinese Navy after they were caught in April following a failed attack on a Tuvalu-flagged ship.
Gunfire Exchange Between Villa Somalia Guards And NISA Banadir Boss Leaves Two Dead
15 May – Source: Jowhar.com – 117 Words
Two government soldiers died and two others were injured Monday after the security guards of Villa Somalia and Head of NISA for Banadir region exchanged gunfire.The incident occurred when disagreement arose between the two sides over the access of a venue where Somali youth Day function was taking place, sparking deadly sustained gunfire.
Villa Somalia security details at the venue barred the NISA boss armed guards from entering the venue where President Farmajo was expected to arrive shortly before the incident. The incident caused fear among the people who came to attend the function, but the situation was later brought back to normalcy and security forces from Villa Somalia closed all roads leading to the venue.
16 May – Source: Global Times – 159 words
China has inked agreement with the UN migration agency (IOM) for 1 million US dollar of multi-sector assistance that will support IOM efforts to help internally displaced persons, vulnerable communities and returnees in Somalia. A statement from IOM said Tuesday the project, which will reach over 15,000 people, will support the UN and Somalia-backed 2017 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan.
It will also provide lifesaving aid to vulnerable populations in areas affected by the ongoing drought and displacement. “This contribution towards IOM’s humanitarian programmes is another milestone in bilateral relations between IOM and China,” IOM Director-General William Lacy Swing said. Swing who signed the agreement in Beijing on Monday with China’s Ministry of Commerce on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, described labour migration as an essential element in co-building the “Belt and Road Community”. He said facilitation of movement of capital, goods and services has been of enormous benefit to the global community.
16 May – Source: Newsweek – 481 words
Defeating Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia requires a “carrot and stick” approach that could eventually include political negotiations with the Islamist militants, the U.N.’s top official in the country tells Newsweek. Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, elected in February, has declared a state of war against the Al-Qaeda affiliate. The president offered a 60-day amnesty to disaffected members of the group in April and has pledged to eradicate it within two years. Al-Shabaab emerged from the Islamic Courts Union that was ousted from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, by Ethiopian forces in 2006. The militants have carried out major attacks in Somalia and neighboring countries, such as Kenya, and regularly carry out suicide bombings in the Somali capital Mogadishu, killing civilians, government officials and soldiers. Michael Keating, the Special Representative of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Somalia, tells Newsweek that while the offer of an amnesty was a good start, it would not be sufficient to placate the militant group. “I don’t think an amnesty on its own is going to work. It’s a signal more than a strategy, saying ‘We do not consider you all to be dyed in the wool ideological enemies,’” says Keating, speaking on the sidelines of a major international conference on Somalia in London Thursday. “The amnesty is part of that carrot approach, but you also need the stick approach, particularly if they’re using violence to advance their political objectives.” So far, Al-Shabab has shown no signs of letting up its attacks. The militants dismissed Farmajo’s declaration of war and offer of amnesty as an effort “just to please the West.” At the London conference, which was chaired by the U.K. and brought together representatives of over 40 partners to pledge support for Somalia, British Prime Minister Theresa May noted that Al-Shabab had tripled the number of attacks it carried out in Mogadishu, without giving a specific timeframe.
Experts believe that Al-Shabab consists of different elements, including moderates and vulnerable youths who have been radicalized by the group, as well as a hard core with transnational jihadi objectives. The group’s former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane— killed by a U.S. strike in 2014 — pledged allegiance on its behalf to Al-Qaeda. Previous Somali governments have attempted to reach out to the militants. Former Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was in power from 2012 until Farmajo’s election victory in February, told Newsweek in April that lower-ranking militants had benefited from an amnesty programme ran by his administration, but that negotiations with high-level Al-Shabaab fighters were not possible due to the fact that many are regarded as international terrorists by the United States and other bodies. “At a certain point, there is typically a political negotiation with the hard core with the hope of, at a minimum, dismantling the integrity of the insurgency. But I don’t think we are anywhere near there yet,” says Keating.
“Both of them came to this country believing that the fear they’ve lived with all of their lives would dissipate,” Biersmith said, “but the travel bans and other anti-immigrant rhetoric brings it all back.” His hope is that the documentary will widen the narrow lens of fear and show the “outsized dreams” of Somali soccer players. “The truth is now out there for the world to see,” he said.
16 May – Source: Quartz Media – 502 words
After his surprise election in March, the first country the newly-elected chairman of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) visited was Somalia. Ahmad—who only goes by one name—visited the Somali capital Mogadishu in mid-April and said the country could start hosting international games yet again. Ahmad even went as far as asking Somalia and neighboring Djibouti to organize friendly matches in Mogadishu. But that will be a task easier said than done. Mogadishu Stadium, Somalia’s largest sports complex, still acts as a base for the African Union troops fighting the terrorist group Al-Shabaab. The group still attacks at will and even killed the heads of Somalia’s soccer federation and the Olympic committee in 2012. Somali athletes and swimmers have also frequently fled the country—one of them even dying while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. But as the nation embarks on a slow political and economic recovery, sports is also making a comeback. Since 2011, mini-stadiums and neighborhood playgrounds have been renovated. Local companies are competing to sponsor soccer leagues, and foreign coaches and players from across Africa are flocking into the country to boost the profession. Girls are also returning to the court to
play basketball—to the cheers of friends and families.
It is in this hopeful moment that the documentary Men in the Arena is being launched. The movie which, like the 1990s American basketball documentary Hoop Dreams, follows the story of two soccer players. Saadiq Mohamud and Sa’ad Hussein: two rivals on the pitch share a passion for Somalia’s most popular sport: soccer. Both players, however, unexpectedly find themselves on the same side when they are recruited for the under-18 Somali National Team. The two carry their country’s hope on their shoulders, even as they chase their professional dreams of playing outside Somalia. “We made this film to humanize a people and a place that has been through an unimaginable quarter century of challenges,” J.R. Biersmith, the film’s director and co-producer, told Quartz. For Sa’ad and Saadiq, those incredible odds manifested in fleeing al-Shabaab’s reign of terror, and subsequently facing ethnic profiling and police harassment in Kenya.
After a friend sends around video footage of him playing to coaches, Saadiq lands a try-out with a US university and secures a visa to travel to the United States. Sa’ad, who by then had left Mogadishu, also enters the refugee resettlement program and goes to the US in March 2016. But their troubles don’t end there: after Donald Trump became president, he proposed to ban citizens and refugees from seven countries—including Somalia—from coming into the US.