17 May – Source: UN News Centre – 445 words
The humanitarian crisis in Somalia is worsening, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council, calling for more than $800 million in aid to offset the impact of a severe drought in a country that is already battling insecurity and poverty. “The humanitarian crisis has deteriorated more rapidly than was originally projected,” the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Raisedon Zenenga, told the Council in New York.
He said that people are dying and need protection, particularly women and children, as drought conditions force them to migrate from rural areas to town, and as sexual violence increases in displacement camps. “The scaled up response by humanitarian agencies has averted a famine in the country thus far, but the crisis is unlikely to abate any time soon. The needs for humanitarian assistance are increasing faster than the pace of response,” said Mr. Zenenga, who is also the deputy of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia or UNSOM.
At least $669 million has been received or pledged for the effort, leaving a gap of $831 million in the revised 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan. More than six million people are affected, of whom only about three million have been reached with food rations. In the longer-term, the country’s structural problems must be addressed and resilience built, so the country can withstand extreme climatic conditions, the senior UN official said.
Aside from the humanitarian needs, Somalia faces continued insecurity, predominantly from Al Shabaab. In today’s address, Mr. Zenenga applauded the Security Council-mandated African Union troops, known as AMISOM, which have provided “the backbone of security in Somalia over the past 10 years.” He called on donor countries to assist with “predictable funding,” ideally through assessed contributions, to support the troops.
- As Somalia Combats Insecurity Drought Worsens ‘More Rapidly Than Projected’ – UN Official (UN News Centre)
- Puntland Parliament Rejects Expansion Of State’s Assembly (Garowe Online)
- Roadside Blast Kills Kenyan Official In Border Region (Xinhua)
- 23 Sentenced In Ethiopia For Al-Qaeda Al-Shabab Links (Associated Press)
- Mohammed-bin-Rashid Al-Maktoum Foundation Distributes 360 Tonnes Of Food Aid To Vulnerable People In Somalia (Emirates News Agency)
- Tackling The Security Crisis In Somalia (Deutsche Welle)
Puntland Parliament Rejects Expansion Of State’s Assembly
17 May – Source: Garowe Online – 217 words
Lawmakers of Somalia’s semi-autonomous region have rejected a proposal to expand state’s 66-seats-chamber by Puntland government. After a week-long revelation about the controversial move, the parliamentarians fiercely opposed the increase of the Parliament seats and described President’s expansion plan as unlawful. Sources told GO that the decision came after legislators hailing from Nugal, Mudug, Sool, Sanaag and Buhoodle inked letter declining President’s aim of giving additional seven seats to allied clans in the Parliament.
The MPs handed over their memo to the Parliament leadership, noting that many challenges and obstacles came along the way to establish Puntland in 1998 by clan elders, politicians and civil society. They urged not to table President’s request, indicating that it will cause constitutional crisis. “The lawmakers who hail from various provinces agreed that the letter of the President was against the state constitution,” an MP who asked not to be named told GO.
Puntland President’s plan coincides with an intention by the state government to extend its term by expanding the Parliament seats from 66 to 73 MPs. MP Saed Abdi Samatar Sur’ad has told GO early this week that the 66 MPs hail from all provinces of Puntland regions, and that some clans who don’t have seats in the state Parliament are represented by other MPs in the same province.
17 May – Source: Xinhua – 340 words
A Kenyan official was killed on Wednesday after a vehicle he was traveling in ran over an improvised explosive device in Elwak area near Kenya-Somalia border. Mandera East divisional police commander Timothy Muasya said the explosive device was buried on the ground by unknown people. The driver survived with serious injuries after the 1 p.m. incident. He said the deceased government engineer was travelling from Kombo area in Elwak when his vehicle ran over the IED blowing the driver cabinet. “We are investigating the incident as at this moment we can not link it to anybody as our officers from the Anti-Terror Police Unit have carried the debris for analysis,” Muasya said.
He said the deceased worked for a local construction company. Muasya said the police have been dispatched to the area for surveillance as it is a hot spot area where security vehicles had been attacked in the past. “Our buses plying the route remain heavily guarded by armed police escort to prevent attacks by the Al-Shabaab,” he said. Police said the IED was targeting government vehicles using the Wajir-Mandera road. Witnesses said the affected vehicle was traveling from Wajir to Mandera carrying the workers of a road construction company when the incident happened.
The incident is the latest in a series that have been happening in the last two weeks targeting government vehicles. Police have blamed the attacks on Al-Shabaab militants who are operating in the area. Mandera County has been scene of vicious attacks since 2014 where dozens of non-locals were killed in commuter busses and at a quarry site. The county and other parts of northern Kenya have been subjected to successive explosive attacks by Al-Shabaab operatives in the country following the onslaught by Kenyan soldiers on the Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia. At least four people were killed on Tuesday after a vehicle they were traveling in ran over an IED in Liboi area, Garissa County. On Monday night, the militants raided a home of a chief in Omar Jillo in Mandera and killed him.
17 May – Source: Associate Press – 115 words
A court in Ethiopia has sentenced 23 people to up to 15 years in prison for establishing links to the al-Qaeda and al-Shabab extremist groups. The Ethiopian Federal High Court says they had been accused of planning to carry out terror attacks inside the East African country.
The state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate quotes the court ruling as saying three of those sentenced had been planning to establish an Islamic state. Court officials say the defendants were active between 2010 and 2014 in six cities including the capital, Addis Ababa. The charge sheet says the defendants recruited individuals and sent them to neighboring Somalia for training. Al-Shabab, which has links to al-Qaeda, is based in Somalia.
Mohammed-bin-Rashid Al-Maktoum Foundation Distributes 360 Tonnes Of Food Aid To Vulnerable People In Somalia
17 May – Source: Emirates News Agency – 203 words
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, MBRF, has distributed 360 tonnes of basic food supplies to vulnerable people in Somalia, benefitting a total of 4,600 families. This act is an implementation of the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, supported by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to aid the people of Somalia to overcome their difficult living conditions.
Ibrahim Bumelha, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of MBRF, said that a delegation from the Foundation has supervised the coordinated procedures for food distribution in Somalia to beneficiary regions in Hargeisa, with large numbers of affected people, in coordination with the foundation’s local partners. Bumelha added that the aid included basic food supplies such as rice, flour, sugar, oil and milk, as well as dates and baby milk. The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation allocated an initial amount of AED5 million to implement the rescue projects, which aim to help the Somali people and assist millions of other vulnerable peoples.
“As Somalia continues to suffer from ongoing violence and a possible famine in the near future, the international community is working together to address the country’s poor state of affairs.”
17 May, Source: Deutsche Welle – 1010 words
On Wednesday the UN Security Council met in New York to discuss the deteriorating security situation in Somalia. Earlier that morning three bomb disposal experts were killed by a car explosive near the capital of Mogadishu. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, Islamist extremist group Al-Shabaab is known to frequently carry out similar attacks in the city.
DW spoke with Laura Hammond from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London about the situation in Somalia and possible outcomes of the meeting in New York.
DW: What outcome can we expect from the Security Council meeting in New York?
Laura Hammond: Well I suspect that the discussion of the Security Council will be to review and lend support to the outcomes of the London Somalia Conference which was held last Thursday, in which all of the major donors to Somalia agreed to a common approach towards their collaboration with Somalia. So it’s important that the Security Council members get behind that communiqué which came out of the meeting and that it bares the strength of the UN commitment in addition to the bilateral commitments that were made by independent states. I wouldn’t expect very much of a new direction coming out of the meeting. More of a strengthening and resolve around the communiqué from the London conference. Somalia has been locked in conflict for decades. Several possible solutions have been laid out including the presence of AMISON troops, but the situation keeps bouncing back. Is it time to change approach?
I think there have been quite a lot of successes that Somalia can point to in the last couple of years. There is now a new administration which has not been popularly elected because it’s still not possible to have popular elections, but they have a very strong commitment to tackling corruption and improving governance structures and to take very seriously the current challenges placed by the drought and the impending famine. I think that there are a lot of successes that can be pointed to, but clearly there are also a lot of challenges. The rebel movement al-Shabaab remains in control of many of the rural areas and it’s not been possible to achieve a military success there. One of the main outcomes of the meeting in London was to agree to a common, coordinated approach to a security architecture on Somalia that should really help to strengthen the formation of a strong national military presence in parts of Somalia. So far we’ve had a security situation in which the multiple clans and regional leaders have pledged their individual militias to work in the common interests of the national military, but there hasn’t been a single command structure for a national military. I think that’s what they are trying to work towards now and it would strengthen their hand. I wouldn’t say an entirely new approach is needed, but a serious commitment to making good on the promises made in the last couple of weeks and some patience as well. It takes a long time to turn the situation around in a very durable way.
Can the Somali diaspora play a key role in peace-building and reconstruction of their country?
The Somalia diaspora is already very much involved and one of the features of the meetings last week was a very well-attended side-event on the engagement of civil society in Somali reconstruction and stabilization efforts. The diaspora are involved at all levels of government. The president himself has come back from the diaspora in the United States and there are over 100 parliamentarians who are from the diaspora, so on a political level they are there. But also in the private sector are a couple of very important humanitarian efforts to try to raise funds and deliver assistance into areas where international humanitarian organizations have difficulty accessing to try to avert famine. One can see the mark of the diaspora in virtually any aspect of life in Somalia now.