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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Over 38,000 Somali children facing starvation: UN - Yahoo News

Over 38,000 Somali children facing starvation: UN - Yahoo News

Over 38,000 Somali children are at "high risk" from dying from starvation despite hunger levels improving by almost a third across the war-torn nation, UN experts said Thursday.
The grim assessment, based on the latest data collected by the UN, comes just over three years since intense drought and war sparked famine in the Horn of Africa nation, killing more than a quarter of a million people.
In total, over 731,000 people, including 203,000 children who are severely malnourished, face "acute food insecurity", according to a joint report released by the UN's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network(FEWS NET).
But the total number affected is a drop of 29 percent from last assessments covering the past six months, with "relatively good rains" in late 2014 helping farmers.
"Many children remain acutely malnourished, despite a small decrease in their numbers over the past six months," the statement read.
"An estimated 202,600 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished, including 38,200 who are severely malnourished and face a high risk of morbidity and death."
Three-quarters of those in dire need are those who have fled their homes, mainly due to continued fighting.
"Malnutrition rates remain stubbornly high," UN aid chief for Somalia Philippe Lazzarini said. "The outlook for 2015 is worrisome."
More than 250,000 people, half of them children, died in the devastating 2011 famine.
Fighting continues between Somalia's Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels and government and allied forces, backed by more than 20,000-strong African Union force.

Somali political crisis delaying state rebuilding - U.N. envoy | News by Country | Reuters

Somali political crisis delaying state rebuilding - U.N. envoy | News by Country | Reuters

A political crisis that has produced Somalia's third prime minister in just over a year has delayed work to draw up a new constitution and steps needed to prepare for a referendum and election in 2016, U.N. envoy Nick Kay said on Wednesday.
Somalia is slowly recovering from two decades of conflict. A military campaign has driven Islamist rebels out of major strongholds and some refugees have begun returning home but efforts to rebuild the state have stalled.
"You are not going to have a lasting peace in Somalia without building a state," Kay, the U.N. special envoy to Somalia, told Reuters. "The delays caused by political infighting have affected progress."The goal is to put a constitution to a referendum in March 2016 that will outline a new federal structure to help overcome the regional and clan rivalries that fuelled past fighting. A vote for a new president is due to follow in September 2016.But a constitutional review commission has yet to start work, some regions in a new federal state have not been demarcated and an independent electoral commission has yet to be named."They have made progress but the timelines now are very tight," Kay said in Addis Ababa, where he was attending a summit of African Union leaders. "So they need encouraging to do more and more quickly."President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud named his third prime minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, in December after a row with the previous premier. Parliament then rejected Sharmarke's first cabinet, forcing him to name a new one this week.Only when a new cabinet is in place can it name the election commission, which parliament must approve. Parliament is due to head into a recess on Feb. 5 and is not due to return until March, said Kay, threatening further delays.Western and other donors, which have pledged billions of dollars for reconstruction, have urged politicians to set aside differences, fearing al Shabaab Islamist militants can exploit the vacuum.Al Shabaab has been pushed out of major strongholds by an offensive launched last year by African peacekeepers and Somali troops. More of the country is now under government control but rebels still launch frequent gun and bomb attacks.However, with more order in some areas, Kay said a U.N.-supported programme had so far helped about 1,000 Somali refugees return home from Kenya since late last year. (Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Somalis in Soweto recall days of terror - Crime

Somalis in Soweto recall days of terror - Crime

Sheer terror is what some Somalis say they felt when frenzied mobs stormed their shops in Soweto last week, saying the well-stocked shelves were what saved their lives.
Deeq Abdul and fellow Somalis Adbinu Yusuf and Ahmed Abdi on Tuesday said so wild was the crowd that hit their Orlando supermarket last Monday that if they had been in the way, they would have been killed.
“We were in the shop going about our business when we became aware of the sounds of a big crowd. It was immediately followed by our doors being forced open and thousands of people just pouring in,” 26-year-old Abdul said.
Their initial shock was replaced by panic and horror.
“They burst into the shop and we knew that if they touched us we would die.”
But the mob of men and women, old and young, went for the shelves.
“They were all over the place, and as we ran for the back exit, we saw them pulling everything off the shelves,” Abdul said.
They hid in a neighbour’s house until the frenzy died down and the mob had left.
“They took everything. They took six huge fridges and a few smaller ones, they took the shelves and counters. They left the shop totally bare,” Yusuf added.
The trio fled to Pretoria, where they took refuge in the Pretoria West house of a Somali who has always opened his doors to countrymen seeking a place to stay during similar attacks on them and their property.
Masid Yussuf also fled for Pretoria West after his shop was looted of more than R70 000 worth of supplies and severely damaged by a large crowd.
He had been away from the shop when the looting took place that afternoon. He rushed back when his workers phoned to tell him what was happening.
“The sight that confronted me was the stuff of nightmares. I found thousands and thousands of people outside the shop, walking and running and standing around, all with their arms full of stuff from the shop.
“It was unbelievable. Most carried more than humanly possible and what fell on the floor was immediately retrieved even as they ran in the direction of the houses,” Yussuf said.
He had come from Port Elizabeth in 2013, two years after being shot at four times and hit twice during an ambush at his shop.
“I was in hospital for four months for treatment on my leg and hip,” he said.
He had never fully recovered from the attack, so when he was confronted by the sight of armed youth and looters, he was overcome by anxiety and rushed for the safety of a group of police officers who were at the scene.
The shop was wrecked.
The attack had been so violent that the open doors had been pulled off their hinges, windows were smashed and parts of the walls brought down with hammers.
The Somalis said they would return to their communities when the chaos died down, because of the good relationships they had built with their customers.
“Ignorance is what is killing our people,” said the chairman of the Gauteng Somali Association of South Africa, Abdirahman Ismail.
The fact that people were not well informed about the plight of fellow Africans and did not understand the circumstances under which they lived in South Africa instead of being at home was the root of the problem, he said.
“Criminal activities are commonplace, and because foreigners are vulnerable, they easily become targets,” he said.
Ismail said that if they left, South Africans would attack other South Africans in the vicious cycle of crime.
The Star

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Somali suicide bomber lived in Switzerland - Africa | IOL News | IOL.co.za

Somali suicide bomber lived in Switzerland - Africa | IOL News | IOL.co.za

A suicide bomber who last week killed himself and three others at a hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu had previously lived in Switzerland.
A spokeswoman for the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service, NDB, said Tuesday that the agency was working on the assumption that the man of Somali origin came to Switzerland in 2008.
Carolina Bohren told The Associated Press that the bomber received temporary residency in Switzerland along with Swiss travel documents, but not Swiss citizenship.
The attacker blew himself up Thursday at the gate of the SYL hotel, used by Turkish officials. The attack bore the hallmarks of al-Shabaab, an Islamic extremist group fighting the Somali government.
Bohren said the man, who she didn't identify, notified Swiss authorities in January 2013 that he was moving away, without specifying where.
Sapa-AP

Suspect in Somali teen's death makes court appearance | Local News - KMBC Home

Suspect in Somali teen's death makes court appearance | Local News - KMBC Home

The man accused of killing a teenager at a Somali community center last month made another court appearance Monday.
Ahmed Aden is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, leaving the scene of an accident and illegal use of a weapon. He attended a two-minute hearing about the case Monday.
Aden is accused of deliberately striking 15-year-old Abdisamad Shiekh-Hussein outside the community center last month. The Staley High School sophomore later died of his injuries.
The case continues to be very important for Kansas City's Somali community. Many members of the community attended Monday's hearing, which covered routine pretrial issues.
Aden has another court date in early February.
The FBI is conducting its own investigation to see whether the case qualifies for hate crime charges.

BBC News - Somali pub comments 'misrepresented', says Lib Dem MP

BBC News - Somali pub comments 'misrepresented', says Lib Dem MP

Communities Minister Stephen Williams has defended his remarks in Parliament about the threat to pubs in his constituency from population changes.
The Lib Dem MP for Bristol West said pubs in parts of the city were closing because of the decline of the "white working class" and the arrival of migrants from Somalia and elsewhere.
He said reports of his remarks had been "twisted" to suggest a focus on race.
He had simply been proposing derelict premises should be converted, he said.
The comments were made as Mr Williams was outlining a government proposal to protect community pubs.
The plan involves changing the law to prevent places listed as assets of community value being demolished or having their use changed without planning permission.
Some campaigners had called for the government to go further and impose a blanket ban on the redevelopment of all pubs without planning permission.
Arguing against a blanket ban, Mr Williams told MPs: "In my own constituency, lots of pubs have closed - but it is usually because of demographic change.
"Some parts of my constituency, which had a 'white working-class community' 20 or 30 years ago, are now populated primarily by recently arrived Somalis and other people.
"Obviously the pubs in those areas have closed, and some have been converted to other uses, but some of them are still derelict.
'No value judgement'
"What the government is proposing is to look at the public houses that are genuinely popular and valued by the community now, giving them protection that is already allowed in the Localism Act and further enhancing that protection in terms of the planning laws, saying you cannot convert this pub into another use or demolish it without planning permission."
Some reports, including one in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, with the headline "'Somali immigrants' cause pub closures", had taken his comments out of context, Mr Williams said.
"There was no value judgement in what I said. It was simply an observation," he told the BBC.
"Some pubs in the Barton Hill and Redcliffe area of my constituency have closed because of the arrival of a non-drinking Muslim population to the area.
"I could have made a point about pubs closing because of the decline of a factory or a football stadium - both of which also apply to my constituency," he said.
"I was simply saying there was no point us giving blanket protection to all pubs, as some people suggest.
"But what we are announcing is powers for people across the country to protect their much-loved pubs by triggering a planning application if they are listed as a community asset."
Mr Williams rejected any suggestion his comments had been motivated by a negative view of migration.
"I have consistently argued that immigration is a good thing," he said. "That is my view as a Liberal."

Somali prime minister appoints new Cabinet - US News

Somali prime minister appoints new Cabinet - US News

Somalia's prime minister unveiled his new Cabinet Tuesday, weeks after he withdrew his initial line-up following opposition by the parliament.
Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke appointed a 20-member Cabinet, mostly political newcomers, downsizing the number from the 26-member body that was dissolved earlier this month.
Somalia's president appointed Sharmarke after the parliament ousted his predecessor, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, in December, capping off a long-standing feud between Ahmed and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Last week the U.N., the European Union, the regional bloc IGAD, the African Union Mission in Somalia, the United States and Britain expressed concern over delays in the implementation of a plan to rebuild war-torn Somalia due to the political crisis.
Shamarke — who was prime minister in a previous administration — and his Cabinet face major challenges, including an insurgency by Islamist militant group al-Shabab and rebuilding the country from decades of conflict.
The United States and the U.N., among others, have warned that the political infighting in Somalia is putting at risk the recent security gains made in the country. Somalia plunged into chaos after the 1991 ouster of dictator Siad Barre. The country's weak government is currently being supported by African Union troops against the insurgency by al-Shabab.
The U.S. State Department declared al-Shabab a terrorist organization in February 2008.