Former Ceelbuur Governor Kidnapped By Al-Shabaab
25 March – Source: Radio Bar-Kulan – 103 Words
Reports have emerged that the former governor of Ceelbuur, Maalin Mahmud Afrah was kidnapped by Al Shabaab operatives one night ago. The incumbent governor of Ceelbur, Nur Hassan Gutale, confirmed the kidnapping of the former governor to Bar-Kulan. Gutale said that clan elders have established contact with Al Shabab and have called for the release of the former governor since he is no longer actively involved in politics. Maalim Mahmuud, who was the governor of Ceelbuur during the regime of the late Abdullahi Yusuf was kidnapped from Dac , a town18 kms away. His whereabouts are currently unknown.
- Former Ceelbuur Governor Kidnapped By Al Shabaab (Radio Bar-Kulan)
- Thousands Of Somali Refugees Trapped In Yemen Violence (Horseed Media)
- EU Promises To Double Military Training For Somalia (Somali Current)
- Germany Supports Voluntary Return Of Refugees To Somalia (Radio Goobjoog)
- Somalia Attends International Youth Conference In Kuala Lumpur (Radio Dalsan)
- MPs Approve Nominee For Somalia Envoy (Daily Nation)
- Remittance Cuts A Threat to Somalia’s Food Security (VOA)
- Members Of Congress Urge Congressional Leadership To Support Somalia (US Congress/Hiiraan Online)
- Couple Spends Millions To Save Migrants In The Mediterranean (NPR)
- How Do You Stop Rape In A Broken State? Somalia Is Giving It A Try (Women’s Media Center)
- Somalia: Civil Society And Human Rights Meeting (UNSOM/AMISOM)
Thousands Of Somali Refugees Trapped In Yemen Violence
25 March – Source: Horseed Media – 253 Words
The conflict in Yemen is not only having an impact on Yemeni nationals, but also on the thousands of Somali immigrants who have gone there to work, study or live or pass through to reach another destination. Insecurity in Yemen has risen sharply in recent months as several parallel conflicts have intensified and expanded, with the Houthi rebels backed by the Iranian government overthrowing the weak government. A Somali diplomat has told the BBC Somali service that the refugees have been trapped with scant food and water with almost not receiving attention. “The situation of the Somalis currently living in Yemen is in jeopardy and trapped in the conflict,” says Ahmed Ibrahim Hassan, the Somali Consular based in Aden City.
This spike in violence has taken place amidst – and has contributed directly to – a worsening humanitarian situation, and aid access has been curtailed, says the Somali official. The Somali government has not spoken of any plans to evacuate its citizens from the country, where hope for an immediate peace deal is low. Yemen has long been a major transit point for illegal migration from the Horn of Africa. For many years, tens of thousands of African immigrants including Somalis have risked their lives by crossing the Gulf of Aden to reach Yemen in their search for safety and a better life. Many die atrocious deaths – beaten, thrown overboard, eaten by sharks, drowned or asphyxiated in the hold of crowded smuggler boats.
EU Promises To Double Military Training For Somalia
25 March – Source: Somali Current – 72 Words
The European Union has promised to double its military training for Somalia troops. The announcement came after officers from EU were hosted by the Somali defence minister. In the meeting the parties discussed how to strengthen relations between the two and the rebuilding of Somali National Army. The minister said during a press conference that his government appreciates the different kinds of support the EU gives to Somalia.
Germany Supports Voluntary Return Of Refugees To Somalia
25 March – Source: Radio Goobjoog – 126 Words
The Head of German Development Cooperation for Somalia, Ms Julia Kronberg, met with the Somali Minister of Interior, Abdirahman Mahamad Hussein, on Wednesday to discuss a project aimed at facilitating the voluntary return of refugees to Somalia. Germany would provide 5 million Euros to the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to implement the project which will help to improve the livelihoods of returning refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the local population in selected host communities. “The project underlines Germany’s renewed commitment to strengthen development cooperation with Somalia. It also symbolizes the return of German Development Cooperation to South and Central Somalia where the GIZ had been active until 2011 providing development-oriented transitional aid.” Ms Kronberg said.
Somalia Attends International Youth Conference In Kuala Lumpur
25 March – Source: Radio Dalsan – 247 Words
The international youth conference was held to address the current scenario of social entrepreneurship as a catalyst for the young generation to make a positive change to society. Organized by the Institute for Youth Research Malaysia , the International Conference for Young Leaders is to set to become a new international direction and agenda of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. More than 300 participants from 10 countries are attending the three-day event themed ‘Changing Communities through Social Entrepreneurship’. Also present were Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and his deputy Datuk M Saravanan, as well as Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof. Malaysia’s prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that he wants more youths to venture into social entrepreneurship and help to bring about a lasting positive impact on society.
“I believe that given the opportunity, young people with the desire to change the world will use the social business model to have deep positive and lasting impacts on social and environmental issues. Social entrepreneurship is a business model that focuses not just on profit but also emphasizes creating a positive impact and a more equitable society. Although the concept is still relatively new, it has gained awareness among the youths here. “We need more outstanding young Malaysians who have the initiative, perseverance and a sense of idealism who are roles models to look up to, and to encourage more social entrepreneurs to come forward,” he said.
25 March – Source: Daily Nation – 177 Words
The National Assembly on Wednesday evening approved the nomination of Maj-Gen (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo as Kenya’s new ambassador to Somalia. This means that President Kenyatta can formally appoint and send him on his way to Mogadishu. Maj-Gen Tumbo was earlier this month vetted by the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee that later recommended his approval by the House. Among his credentials is his military background, which the MPs thought would come in handy in charting the future of Kenya’s war-torn neighbour. The committee headed by Tetu MP Ndung’u Gethenji also agreed that a military man was best placed to deal with the Al-Shabaab security threat, which the nominee said he was well-placed to do. “I have served in several countries including Ethiopia and Sudan and I know what it takes for the country to cement peace in the region,” he said. Mr Tumbo, unlike other nominees, also impressed the MPs by announcing that he was willing to relocate to Mogadishu, the Somalia capital, and not the safer and more comfortable Nairobi.
25 March – Source: VOA – 646 Words
Aid groups say remittances from abroad are key to food security in Somalia, and that an American bank’s recent decision to bar money transfers into the country could have disastrous effects. The move, apparently required by U.S. anti-terrorism measures, could contribute to making Somalia’s hunger problems even worse. In February, Merchants Bank of California stopped working with Somali remittance companies. It was the last major U.S. bank that allowed Somalis to send money home. The announcement caused an outcry among aid organizations. They say it will make it more difficult for Somalis in the diaspora to support their families back home, where decades of war, recurrent drought and continued lawlessness have left millions vulnerable. An estimated $1.3 billion are sent to Somalia each year, which is more than humanitarian aid, development aid and foreign direct investment combined.
Ed Pomfret, who works with Oxfam’s Somalia program, points out that stemming this flow could end up being costly for the international community. “We know that at least 40 percent of Somalis rely on remittances for survival,” he said. “If the $1.3 billion does not come through, you end up throwing millions more people into a crisis situation, and then the international community then has to pick up the pieces and will end up spending a huge amount more money on aid, instead of allowing Somalis to look after themselves and look after each other.” Merchants Bank had been under intense pressure from U.S. government regulators to more closely monitor money transfers to Somalia, or risk falling afoul of laws prohibiting money laundering and funding terrorist organizations.
25 March – Source: US Congress/Hiiraan Online – 653 Words
Members of Congress on Wednesday wrote a letter to the House Appropriations Committee asking them to grant $87.7 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF) requested by President Obama to support Somalia. The letter, which was signed by 11 members of Congress, reads:
‘We write to express strong support for the President’s request of $87.7 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF) to support the formation of legitimate, durable institutions that will enhance stability and economic development in Somalia. The country is at a critical juncture and we need to provide meaningful assistance in order to build upon the economic and security gains achieved over the last several years. We urge you to prioritize assistance to this fragile country by providing the full amount requested by the President. Poverty, weak institutions, lack of economic opportunity, and radical ideology all directly contribute to and foment instability and conflict. The U.S. has a long history of investing in and supporting political and economic development in impoverished countries. In order to do this effectively, we need to use our foreign policy tools in a balanced manner and focus our assistance on building government institutions and strengthening civic capacity. Over the past several years, significant gains have been made against Al-Shabaab with the help of U.S. contributions to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the countries that are a part of that force. However, this assistance needs to be matched by a robust investment in capacity building and support for legitimate and capable government institutions, which area pre-requisite for long-term stability in Somalia.
In FY2014, the United States provided $21.6 million in ESF to help Somalia’s new government expand its presence beyond the capital of Mogadishu and begin providing basic services to its people. Somalia is working to repair the negative effects of 20 years of state collapse, widespread violence, and lawlessness. As a result, rebuilding state capacity and fostering a peaceful political system will be a long-term project. We must be willing to make the commitment necessary to help the people of Somalia undertake that project. The need to invest in strong institutions and capacity building in Somalia has been made clear by the current situation surrounding remittance flows to Somalia from countries like the U.S., United Kingdom, and Australia. In March, the largest financial institution that handled the majority of money transfers from the U.S. to Somalia closed the accounts of all Somali- American Money Transfer Operators (MTO). Without banking services, many of these MTOs have been forced to limit their operations, leaving the Somali diaspora in the U.S. with a lack of a secure means to send funds to their loved ones back home. While there are domestic regulatory reasons for this situation, a core complicating factor is Somalia’s lack of a strong central bank and the robust regulatory institutions necessary to participate in the world banking system.
CULTURE / OPINION / EDITORIAL / ANALYSIS / BLOGS/ DISCUSSION BOARDS
“That’s how Filsan Abdullah Tawab got to Malta from Somalia. She and her husband, along with their two children, now live in just one room of a shared apartment. As she cuddles her newborn son, her husband plays with her 2-year-old daughter sitting nearby. Tawab says that she fled Somalia after the militant group al-Shabab killed her brother and tried to force her into marriage. Six months later, she reached Libya and got on a rubber dinghy with 94 other people headed to Europe.”
25 March – Source: NPR – 711 Words
Christopher Catrambone, a wealthy businessman from Lake Charles, La., docks his boat these days in Malta, the Mediterranean island he now calls home. That boat, called the Phoenix, has been getting outfitted for a series of trips set to begin in May. But Catrambone and his crew don’t intend to use the Phoenix for luxury cruises. He and his Italian wife, Regina, invested about $8 million of their own money to buy the ship and hire a crew for an entirely different purpose: to save lives at sea. “Thousands of people are dying,” Catrambone says. “Today, as we stand here we just received news that 10 more migrants died.” Record numbers of people from the Middle East and Africa are crossing waters to try to get to Europe, and rights groups say European countries don’t do enough to rescue them when they run into trouble at sea. The millionaire husband-and-wife team decided to take on the task themselves during a recent yacht cruise on the Mediterranean. Regina caught sight of a jacket in the water during the cruise, and when she asked about it, she was told it might belong to a dead migrant who was trying to find safety in Europe. And that was that. They went on to found the Migrant Offshore Aid Station, which began operations last year.
“We’re the only game in town at the moment,” Christopher Catrambone says. In just 60 days, they saved about 3,000 migrants crossing the sea in rickety wooden boats or dinghies. They then coordinated with Italy and Malta in bringing the migrants to shore. This year, they’re trying to raise money to operate for six months. Martin Xuereb, the director of the organization and Malta’s former chief of defense, notes the dire conditions in which they often find these migrants. “In our first mission [last year] we rescued 271 people, including over 100 women and children from a 12-meter boat that was already taking in water,” Xuereb says. “They’re packed like sardines.” The boat likely would have sunk, he says. While some Europeans criticize the rescue operation, saying it draws more migrants to the sea, Xuereb says that’s just not true. People are desperate, undertaking the journey to find a better life. They deserve to live, he says. Last year, about 218,000 people made this journey — a record. Some 3,500 people drowned. And the numbers are growing. Amnesty International says rates of those crossing are 50 percent higher than last year and hundreds have drowned already this year. “Amnesty International is calling on European governments to start as soon as possible with a new concerted operation to save lives at sea,” says Matteo de Bellis, the group’s Italy campaigner.
“Traditional Islamic courts, along with the existing Somali penal code, treat sexual offenses as crimes against morals and decency rather than as crimes against the individual, says Roisin Mangan, LAW’s legal officer. But the Sexual Offenses Bill aims to rectify this. The bill includes provisions criminalizing forced marriage and child marriage, and replaces the outdated definition of rape. It also improves upon existing legislation by listing offenses that would be covered by the bill and providing appropriate sentencing guidelines.”
25March – Source: Women’s Media Center – 1,693 Words
In 2011, a Thomson Reuters poll found that Somalia was ranked among the top five most dangerous countries to be a woman. Fewer than three years later, Human Rights Watch concluded that two decades of civil conflict in the country had created a large population of civilians vulnerable to sexualized violence, in a report titled “Here, Rape is Normal.” Eight-hundred cases of sexualized violence were said to have occurred in Mogadishu alone in the first six months of 2013,according to a statement by the UN Secretary General—and those were just the ones actually reported. The true number, the UN said, was likely much higher given the universal realities of underreporting rape. Sexualized violence in Somalia is, as these facts and figures show, an alarming issue. Years of conflict and food insecurity have led to huge numbers of displaced people becoming particularly susceptible to sexualized violence and exploitation. Children, says UNICEF, make up a third of Somalia’s victims of sexualized violence. Armed gunmen beat, rape, shoot, and stab women and girls with complete impunity, according to news reports. “Prosecutions and convictions for rape and other forms of sexual violence are rare in Somalia,” says a 2013 report from Amnesty International, which calls the violence an “epidemic.” Impunity, Amnesty says, allows perpetrators to know that “they can commit such crimes and get away with it.”
A complete lack of legislation or a system equipped to deal with prosecutions exacerbates the issue. Impunity reigns as systems are simply not in place to record, process, and try crimes of sexualized violence. Yet it is with this impunity where change is not only possible, but essential to stop this rampant violence against women. And now, finally, there is hope manifesting at a national, legal level. The Somali Sexual Offenses Bill, due to go before the Somali federal government in early April, aims to address the narrow scope of existing legislation on sexualized violence in the country. The bill is being seen as a model for Muslim majority countries emerging from conflict. After all, according to Somalia’s provisional constitution, all laws must be in compliance with Islamic law. Antonia Mulvey, executive director of the non-governmental organization Legal Action Worldwide (LAW), pointed out, “The Quran and Sunnah, the primary sources of Sharia law, contain numerous pronouncements of women’s rights and freedoms. The Sexual Offenses Bill seeks to ensure that these rights are fully implemented.”
25 March – Source: AMISOM/UNSOM – Video – 3:22 Minutes
At least 27 representatives from civil society organizations and human rights activists in Somalia concluded a two-day consultative workshop in Mogadishu on Tuesday, to review the human rights situation in Somalia and draft a report for the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.