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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Somalia Listed as Worst Country for Maternal Health

Somalia Listed as Worst Country for Maternal Health

The British aid group Save the Children ranks Somalia as the worst country on Earth for being a mother. The ranking is based on statistics for maternal health, child mortality, education and women’s income in Somalia.

Nearly 25 years of instability has seen Somalia’s health institutions collapse but the government and international partners hope to soon change this narrative.
Fadumo Abdulkadir lost her child shortly before birth. She is among the millions of women in Somalia who remain at great risk during childbirth.

In its latest report, "State of World Mothers," the aid group Save The Children has ranked Somalia at the bottom among the countries surveyed.
According to the United Nations Children's Agency UNICEF, maternal mortality rates for Somalia are among the highest in the world. One out of every ten Somali children dies before seeing its first birthday.
Somalia's Deputy Minister of Health, Osman Mohamed Abdi, said the government hopes to change the situation.
“Somalia is among the worst countries in the world for a mother. But the Ministry of Health with support from international partners like UNFPA will work hard to ensure that help is delivered to Somali mothers at the regional, district and village level," said Abdi.
It is believed that one out of every 12 women in Somalia dies due to pregnancy-related causes. Only nine percent of pregnant women in the country have access to skilled birth attendants.

The U.N. says the world has a massive midwife shortage, and says this is particularly dangerous for countries in crisis.
Recently, 23 new midwives graduated in Mogadishu at a ceremony that coincided with the International Day of the Midwife.

Both the Somali government and U.N. agencies see this as a positive step even though it does not come anywhere close to meeting the country's needs.

These new graduates will be deployed across the country to help women during childbirth and attend to their complications before and after the delivery.  Grace Kyeyune is with the United Nations Population Fund.
“These 23 can only serve 2,300 women. But there are more women needing their support than before. We don’t want to get to a situation whereby we are saying it’s always too late. We know very well how many women are dying right now as we speak here because of giving life," said Kyeyune.
Conflict and poverty in Somalia have forced many of the country’s displaced women to give birth in makeshift camps.

With limited assistance during pregnancy and birth, there are likely to be more cases of death in childbirth. But Somali authorities say they're determined to take action to improve the situation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

​Councillor Muna Cali 'proud' to be first Somali woman elected to Northampton council | Northampton Herald & Post

​Councillor Muna Cali 'proud' to be first Somali woman elected to Northampton council | Northampton Herald & Post

A councillor made history this month by becoming the first Somali women to be elected to Northampton Borough Council.
Councillor Muna Cali was elected in Castle Ward in this year's local election with 1,753 votes. She now represents the area with fellow Labour councillors Danielle Stone and Enam Haque.
Whilst 'very proud' of her Somali heritage, she said she will be working on behalf of all communities in Castle Ward.
Muna Cali, Labour councillor for Castle Ward, said: "I'm delighted to be elected to Castle Ward and of course I'm proud to be the first Councillor of Somali origin to serve on Northampton Borough Council.
"I will work hard for all people and communities in Castle Ward. The town centre is a great place to live but there are many challenges as well, such as the redevelopment of many sites and some persistent problems of anti-social behaviour."
Cllr Danielle Stone, Leader of the Labour Group, said "Muna is a terrific asset to the team and she will play an important role over the coming four years. She is certainly talented and a quick learner."

United Nations News Centre - World must not ‘squander’ opportunity in Somalia, UN envoy tells Security Council

United Nations News Centre - World must not ‘squander’ opportunity in Somalia, UN envoy tells Security Council

While it is too soon to celebrate definitive success in Somalia, and while the situation remains challenging, progress is being made and the international community would be missing a strategic opportunity if it failed to realize how much is being achieved, the top United Nations in the country told the Security Council today.
“When I spoke to you in February, I was both excited and worried about the year ahead. The last few months have highlighted the progress and the challenges,” said Nicholas Kay, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) as briefed Council members this morning. “The world should not squander this opportunity. We need to reinforce success with increased engagement and resources in the coming months.” Mr. Kay said momentum had been regained on efforts to achieve political progress, pointing to work by federal, regional and local leaders, parliamentarians, and people from all walks of life to build a State through dialogue and reconciliation, and top-level commitment to deliver Somalia’s Vision 2016 plan, as well as commitment to several other important targets the Government set. “The prevailing environment of mistrust accumulated over 25 years makes the task difficult and painstaking,” he said. “But it must continue, and deserves our sustained support.” He expressed concerns about a lack of progress on the constitutional review process and about the timetable for elections in Somaliland, which were due next month, while the National Independent Electoral Commission would work in a compressed timeline to discharge its duties, albeit with the support and advice of the UN. The UN would also work with the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and European Union member States on forming Interim Regional Administrations that ensure inclusivity for women, minorities and youth. The mandate of UNSOM remained highly relevant and it would evolve as progress on federalism proceeded, with, for example, work in the country’s regions becoming increasingly important. On the economic front, Mr. Kay said he was encouraged by work to support implementation of the New Deal Somali Compact, including approval of seven projects worth $100 million within the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund. However, only 10 per cent of funds pledged through the Compact architecture were committed and Somalia’s financial system remained high risk. Nonetheless, steps were being taken within the New Deal framework to ensure robust oversight of overall governance. “There is still a long way to go,” he said, “but I am pleased to report that a Treasury Single Account is now in place, creating a single channel for national revenues and payments.” He drew attention to an “alarming” humanitarian situation, stressing the need for “constant attention” to the issue in the form of adequate funding as well as continuous upgrades to our analytical and forecasting capabilities and systems. “One third into the year, the Humanitarian Appeal is only 12 per cent funded, having received only $100 million of the $863 million needed.” He said. “The situation could be further compounded by a poor rainy season, the closure of the Somali remittance operators and an escalating conflict in Yemen. As of 14 May Somalia has received 6,949 arrivals since 27 March. The vast majority – around 92 per cent – are Somali nationals of whom many have refugee status in Yemen.” Noting the need for progress on human rights, he said Somalia would take part this year in the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, stressing his concerns about a marked recent increase in executions and death sentences, despite commitment to a moratorium, as well as continued presence of threats and intimidation to journalists. The security of around 1,400 UN staff in Somalia was a priority, he said, particularly in the context of an attack in Garowe on 20 April, which killed four UNICEF staff and three Somali guards. He thanked the Council for supporting expansion of the UN Guard Unit, especially important since the Mission established offices in Mogadishu city. “This is the first time a Security Council mandated mission has operated from outside the airport zone since 1995,” he said. “With so much at stake between now and 2016, we can expect Al-Shabaab to do everything it can to derail the political process. Renewing the joint Somali and AU offensive against Al Shabaab is an urgent priority.” Maman S. Sidikou Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, also stressed the importance of such action, underlining the fact that the recent joint AU-UN peacekeeping benchmarking mission had highlighted the need to maintain the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troop surge until the end of 2016 at least, with that date also cited as the earliest at which a UN peacekeeping force could be deployed. Successes in recent AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) joint offensives opened up space for stabilization efforts in recovered areas but continued asymmetric warfare tactics by Al Shabaab undermined the force’s effectiveness and with it the population’s confidence. Force enablers and multipliers, such as helicopters, authorized under UN Security Council resolution 2124 (2013) were lacking and reduced the agility and flexibility needed to counter Al Shabaab’s tactics. Mr. Sidikou also addressed the AU’s report on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by AMISOM soldiers, noting that two of the allegations made were proven and that the investigation made several observations and recommendations to strengthen existing mechanisms to address abuse. He pointed to specific actions taken in response, including development of a Whistle-blower’s policy expected to be passed by the AU’s policy organs this year, as well as preparation of a draft Annex to the existing Memorandum of Understanding between the AU Commission and the troop and police contributing countries aiming to make responses to any future allegations more robust. “We will continue to respect the dignity of all Somali women and girls and to uphold the religious and cultural values of Somalia as AMISOM continues to implement its mandate to restore peace and stability in the country.” Mr. Sidikou said. “[I] reiterate AMISOM’s leadership commitment to enforcing the AU’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lessons for Mediterranean? Euro force hunting Somali pirates | Zee News

Lessons for Mediterranean? Euro force hunting Somali pirates | Zee News

The hulking P-3C Orion aircraft prepares to take off from a military base in the Horn of African nation of Djibouti, on the latest mission hunting pirates off Somalia`s coast.
 
Equiped with surveillance cameras, the German military aircraft will head along Somalia`s long desert coastline searching for "suspicious activity" and the tell-tale signs of pirates.
The nine-hour flight is a key part of the European Union anti-piracy fleet, known as Operation Atalanta, that is fighting piracy on one of the world`s most important and busiest shipping channels, through the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea and Suez Canal.
The success of Atalanta in combatting Somali piracy has led to it becoming the model for a proposed EU mission to fight people smugglers in the Mediterranean.
"What we`re look for is all kind of equipment that could be used for piracy attacks," said flight-lieutenant Jens P, sitting at radar screens inside the aircraft cabin.
"Those are very fast moving boats, weapons, ladders -- anything that is not usually used for fishing activities," he said.
Atalanta has four warships and two aircraft, rotating between 10 nations, and has patrolled off the Horn of Africa since 2008, tasked with protecting merchant ships including the cargo vessel carrying aid for the war-torn region.
Pirate hijackings peaked four years ago but have since fallen to almost zero.
Over 30,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden each year between Arabia and Africa, Bab al-Mandeb straits into the Red Sea and Suez Canal.As waves of desperate people attempt the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean to Europe, Atalanta has become the model on which some in the EU would like to base an international military response.
The controversial plan envisages naval patrols with a mandate to destroy boats used by Libyan people smugglers, something that Atalanta aircraft have occasionally done in Somalia. The plan has been criticised by Libya and some UN officials.
"The calculus in the Mediterranean is far more complicated," UN special envoy on migration Peter Sutherland told the Security Council last week.
He warned that "innocent refugees, including many children" might be caught "in the line of fire".
In the Horn of Africa, members of the EU force are proud of their mission`s success, but warn that any scaling back could see the pirates return.
"The successes are more tactical than strategic in nature -- the economy of piracy has not been eradicated," said EU ambassador to Djibouti, Joseph Silva, who called for extension of the force when its mandate ends next year.
"If Atalanta were to stop completely, I think we would see soon enough resurgence of piracy," he said.
At the height of the crisis in 2011, Somali pirates were responsible for the hijacking of 28 vessels and 237 incidents, with attacks launched as far as 3,655 kilometres (2,277 miles) from the Somali coast in the Indian Ocean.
Seized vessels included supertankers transporting close to two million barrels of crude oil, and a Ukranian cargo ship loaded with weapons and tanks.
A raft of measures taken by the shipping sector has also contributed to the decline of piracy: the presence of armed guards on board, the use of barbed wire, an increase in navigation speeds, navigating as far away from the coast as possible.
During piracy`s worst year`s NATO and a US-led task force also guarded the seas and these international patrols have been key to bringing Somali piracy almost to a halt.
Last year attacks slumped to only two, while no major attack has been reported in 2015, although some 30 sailors are still held hostage.
"Piracy has gone down dramatically since 2012. That has a lot to do with Atalanta efforts and the military assets deployed," said Lieutenant Thomas Szczepanski, in charge of flight operations for the German section of the mission.
As well as the European force, international naval patrols from China, Japan, India the United States and Russia have also protected shipping and fought off pirate vessels.But the monitoring continues. After the German aircrew returns to base in Djibouti, a Spanish aircraft takes over for the next mission.
European force chief, Swedish Admiral Jonas Haggren, remains cautious about saying Somali piracy is over.
"We cannot say that piracy has disappeared -- it is contained, but the piracy networks are still intact," said Haggren.
Somalia`s weak government -- propped up by a 22,000-strong African Union army -- does not control the key areas where pirates operate, largely along the northern coast in the autonomous Puntland region.
"We make friendly approaches, we have smaller boats in the area talking to local fishermen, gaining information -- and we also at the same time deter and disrupt piracy," Haggren said in an interview aboard the force`s headquarters vessel, the Dutch warship Johande Witt.
AFP

Somali fined, conditionally discharged after urinating against bus shelter - MaltaToday.com.mt

Somali fined, conditionally discharged after urinating against bus shelter - MaltaToday.com.mt

A court has fined a Somali man after he was arrested for answering the call of nature in public near a bus stop in St. Andrews.

30-year-old Jibril Ismail Jibril, who lives in Gozo, had caught the early ferry to Malta without taking a bathroom break. He had told police that he could not hold it in and decided to alight the bus to relieve himself.

But Jibril chose his spot poorly, electing to relieve himself against a bus shelter whilst passengers were boarding. Bystanders called the police who promptly arrested him.

The accused, who appeared in court with his arm in a sling and assisted by a translator, pleaded guilty and promised the court that he would never do it again, describing it as a one-off.

Barely suppressing a smile, Magistrate Audrey Demicoli told Jibril that she hoped he was now aware of what not to do if he felt the call of nature in a public place again. The court imposed a fine of €100 and conditionally discharged him for 12 months.

Inspector Trevor Micallef prosecuted. Lawyer Noel Bartolo was legal aid for the accused.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Housing Apartheid, American Style - NYTimes.com

Housing Apartheid, American Style - NYTimes.com

The riots that erupted in Baltimore last month were reminiscent of those that consumed cities all over the country during the 1960s. This rage and unrest was thoroughly explained five decades ago by President Lyndon Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also known as the Kerner Commission. The commission’s report was released in 1968 — the year that the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. touched off riots in 125 cities — and contains the most candid indictment of racism and segregation seen in such a document, before or since.

The commission told white Americans what black citizens already knew: that the country was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.” It linked the devastating riots that consumed Detroit and Newark in 1967 to residential segregation that had been sustained and made worse by federal policies that concentrated poor black citizens in ghettos. It also said that discrimination and segregation had become a threat to “the future of every American.”
As part of the remedy, the commission called on the government to outlaw housing discrimination in both the sale and rental markets and to “reorient” federal policy so that housing for low- and moderate-income families would be built in integrated, mixed-income neighborhoods, where residents would have better access to jobs and decent schools.
Soon after the King assassination, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, which banned housing discrimination and required states and local governments that receive federal housing money to try to overcome historic patterns of segregation and to “affirmatively further” federal fair housing goals. But the effort was hampered from the beginning by local officials who ignored or opposed the goal of desegregation and by federal officials, including presidents, who simply declined to enforce it.
A growing body of evidence suggests that America would be a different country today had the government taken its responsibility seriously. For example, a Harvard study released earlier this month found that young children whose families had been given housing vouchers that allowed them to move to better neighborhoods were more likely to attend college — and to attend better colleges — than those whose families had not received the vouchers. The voucher group also had significantly higher incomes as adults.
But little of the promise of progressive-sounding laws was truly realized. The government’s failure to enforce the fair housing law can be seen throughout much of the country; metropolitan areas with large black populations have, in fact, remained highly segregated.
The Nixon Approach
George Romney served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Richard Nixon. He set out to dismantle segregation and what he described as a “high income white noose” formed by the suburbs that surrounded black inner cities. Under his Open Communities initiative, he instructed HUD officials to reject applications for sewer and highway projects from cities and states with segregationist policies. He believed that ending residential segregation was “essential if we are going to keep our nation from being torn apart.”
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Continue reading the main story As Nikole Hannah-Jones reported in a 2012 investigation for ProPublica, Nixon got wind of Romney’s plan and ordered John Ehrlichman, his domestic policy chief, to shut it down.
In a memo to his aides, Nixon later wrote: “I am convinced that while legal segregation is totally wrong that forced integration of housing or education is just as wrong.”
He understood the consequences of his decision: “I realize that this position will lead us to a situation in which blacks will continue to live for the most part in black neighborhoods and where there will be predominately black schools and predominately white schools.” Nixon began to ostracize Romney and eventually drove him out of his administration. Over the next several decades, presidents from both parties followed the Nixon example and declined to use federal muscle in a way that meaningfully promoted housing desegregation.
Preserving the Status Quo
Ronald Reagan was openly hostile to fair housing goals, as the sociologists Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton have shown in their book, “American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass.” The Justice Department under President Reagan challenged the ability of civil rights activists to sue for fair housing violations. The administration also conspired with the National Association of Realtors to undermine HUD’s already feeble enforcement authority.
Bill Clinton tried to bring pressure to bear on states and localities to further integration. But the bureaucracy at HUD resisted these efforts, and, as usual, the politics of the issue became treacherous.
Mr. Clinton’s second HUD secretary, Andrew Cuomo, tried in 1998 to retrace the path that George Romney had walked exactly 30 years earlier. He proposed rules that would have denied federal housing money to communities that flouted fair housing laws. This drew outrage and opposition from local governments that were accustomed to getting billions of dollars from HUD with no preconditions attached. Weakened by scandal and impeachment, Mr. Clinton lacked the political capital for a big fight over fair housing.
In the absence of strong federal leadership, the task of securing fair housing has largely fallen to housing and civil rights groups, which have routinely taken cities and counties and the federal government itself to court for failing to enforce anti-discrimination laws. Their lawsuits have changed the lives of many citizens who were once trapped in dismal neighborhoods.
The Obama administration has proposed new fair housing enforcement rules, which should be finalized soon, that make states, cities and housing agencies more accountable for furthering fair housing.
But for these rules to be meaningful, the federal government will have to restructure its own programs so that more affordable housing is built in low-poverty, high opportunity neighborhoods. Federal officials must also be willing to do what they have generally been afraid to do in the past — withhold money from communities that perpetuate housing apartheid.
Given what we now know about the pervasive harm that flows from segregation, the country needs to get on with this crucial mission.

US and Australia banned their planes from flying over Somalia | Diplomat News Network

US and Australia banned their planes from flying over Somalia | Diplomat News Network

United States of America and Australia has issued warnings about targeting by armed militants against aircrafts passing on Somalia airspace because of the threat of terrorist and militant attacks.
But many airlines can still fly over it if they choose and it’s up to you to figure out which ones.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned all US airlines from flying over Somalia deeming it too dangerous, however many countries have not done the same.
Following the downing of MH17 over Ukrainian airspace on July 17 last year, it emerged the FAA had banned all US airlines from flying over the Crimea region citing safety concerns.
The restricted airzone was about 320kms northeast from the crash site, which was reportedly not included in the FAA warning.
It also emerged other countries issued similar warnings including Malaysia.
The International Transport Association later revealed the airspace MH17 had flown through was not subject to restrictions.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia has listed Somalia as country to avoid.
It says Aussies should not travel to the area because of the armed conflict and a high threat of kidnapping.
It says terrorist attacks in Mogadishu are frequent, and can target foreigners.
“Further attacks are likely,” it says.
Militant groups have been known to use anti-aircraft weapons which are capable targeting aircraft at higher altitudes on approach and departure.
In background information released by the FAA it says the terrorist group al-Shabaab shot down an IL-76 aircraft using MANPADS in March 2007 and conducted ground assaults against Mogadishu International Airport, the most recent of which occurred in December 2014.
“Attacks against aircraft in-flight or Somali airports can occur with little or no warning,” it says.
Three African Union peacekeepers and a civilian contractor were killed in the Mogadishu airport attack.
The FAA says it is this, as well as the civil unrest, that form the reasons for the ban, which was issued on May 12.