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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Civil Society backs Roadmap for Somalia

A three day consultative meeting of civil society representatives has concluded in Mogadishu with the plenary expressing full support for the Roadmap on ending the transition which charts the major tasks which need to take place over the next nine months in Somalia. The Civil Society Consultative Meeting on Ending the Transition, which met from 26 – 28 November, involved 60 representatives of religious leaders, clan elders, the business community, the Diaspora, youth and women’s groups. The meeting, facilitated by the UN Political Office for Somalia, brought these groups together with representatives of the Transitional Federal Institutions, Puntland and Galmudug administrations and Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a (ASWJ).
“I am very optimistic that your presence here is a major landmark and milestone. Civil society is the bridge between political differences. The power is in your hands – help us,” the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Dr. Augustine P. Mahiga said during the conference opening, which he co-chaired with the Somali Deputy Prime Minister, Arab Issa.

The civil society organisations fully endorsed the Roadmap and called for a principle role in its implementation. They agreed to set up a civil society umbrella organisation to work with the Transitional Federal Institutions, Regional Administrations and ASWJ.

During the meeting, the participants divided into four working groups corresponding to the four pillars of the Roadmap – security, constitution, outreach and reconciliation and good governance. Each group put forward a series of recommendations which were outlined in the closing ceremony.

The recommendations included increasing financial support to implement security programmes, respecting the timeframe set for the Roadmap’s completion, establishing a Constituent Assembly to provisionally endorse the Constitution, supporting the current efforts to reform Parliament, establishing Reconciliation Committees, convening reconciliation conferences and enacting anti-corruption legislation.

“The political strategy is inclusiveness and everybody in Somalia must participate,” Dr. Mahiga told the closing ceremony which was attended by the Somali President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and the Speaker of Parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden. Representatives from the international community including the African Union, the European Union, IGAD, the League of Arab States, Djibouti, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States were also present at the closing.

The Roadmap, which was agreed at a High Level Conference in Mogadishu from 4 – 6 September, charts a course to the end of the transitional period in August 2012, providing political direction and promoting inclusivity and stability. It focuses on four pillars and includes benchmarks, delineation of responsibilities and compliance mechanisms.

Source: The Nomad Times

UK aims to step up int'l action on Somalia

Britain will seek to build consensus on measures to tackle instability and piracy in Somalia, such as improved humanitarian aid and economic support, when it hosts a major international conference next February.

The meeting, to be hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron, will be held on Feb. 23 in London, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday.

"Now is the time, we believe, to seek intensified international action on Somalia," Hague told parliament. "That country is a scene of great human suffering, but is also a base of piracy and terrorism, which exacerbate the country's plight and threaten our own security."

A fleet of foreign naval vessels patrols strategic sea lanes off Somalia, where pirates prey on commercial vessels and private yachts and hold them for ransom.

Cameron announced last month that British merchant ships sailing off the coast of Somalia would be able to carry armed guards to ward off pirate attacks, bringing it into line with many other countries.

The prime minister has described the east African nation as a "failed state that directly threatens British interests," citing attacks on tourists and aid workers, and radicalisation of young Britons by militant Islamists with roots in the region.

Hague told parliament on Monday that tens of thousands of Somalis had died in recent months, while a million were internally displaced and faced the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

He called for a wide-ranging approach to undermine al Shabaab rebels and tackle piracy, coupled with economic support, humanitarian aid and assistance to the African Union mission in Somalia, AMISOM.

"The aim of our conference in London in February will be to build agreement on such a reinforced international approach," he said.

The high-level conference is expected to gather regional players, as well as representatives from the United States and other countries, a government source said.

Somalia was formed in 1960 from a former British protectorate and an Italian colony. It descended into chaos after the 1991 fall of dictator Mohammed Siad Barre. The government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed holds sway in the capital Mogadishu, but al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels control much of the rest of the country. (Reporting by Adrian Croft and Tim Castle; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo).

Source: Reuters

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bomb kills nurse at Somali hospital for famine victims

An explosion at Mogadishu’s Benadir Hospital, near a ward where children and victims of the famine are treated, killed one nurse and wounded five others Sunday night.

The bomb, which left a large hole in the wall separating doctors’ lounges, exploded sometime after 11 p.m. and sent patients scrambling for cover.

“We didn’t have anywhere to run, we hid under the bed,” said 48-year-old Amino Mohammed, as she sat with her daughter on Monday and recalled the blast.

A 22-year-old nurse, who apologetically gave his name only as Mohammed for fear of repercussions, had been working Sunday night, dispensing medications to the babies on the ward when the explosion occurred.

“I was standing there,” he said, pointing to an area near the lounge where the bomb was planted. “I fell on the ground. I couldn’t see anything because of the smoke. Patients were shouting. I was laying on the ground for 10 minutes. When I got up I saw two girls who were injured.”

No one has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s bombing in one of the most secure areas of the city.

Mogadishu has been calmer since Al Shabab, the militant Islamist group that has pledged allegiance with Al Qaeda, fled the capital in August. They are now fighting in the south against combined forces from Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Uganda and with the support of the U.S.

The Shabab, itself weakened by the famine, said the retreat was “tactical” and that they would return to Mogadishu using asymmetrical warfare. On Oct. 4 they did, with a truck bombing that killed 70, mainly students applying for foreign scholarships.

If the Shabab is responsible for Sunday’s bombing, it would be the first time they’ve hit a hospital — although in the past they’ve targeted foreigners working with Médecins Sans Frontières and a graduation ceremony for medical students in Mogadishu.

At the hospital, there was little time to mourn the dead.

On Monday, all that was left of the explosion area was a ceiling pockmarked from ball bearings. Chunks of concrete sat on the table of an adjoining room, still set with a white tablecloth and a vase of flowers. Women tried to clean the floor with disinfectant.

Benadir is the capital’s main hospital and has been overflowing with famine victims who have fled to Mogadishu from the south. It is estimated that more than 30,000 children have already died in the famine and tens of thousands more remain at risk as disease hits the crowded camps and hospitals.

The hospital is also a popular spot for visitors including Somali-Canadian singer K’naan, who made a surprise stop in August during his trip to Mogadishu. It is the hospital where he was born. Last month, the Toronto Star spent a week in the hospital profiling the case of one malnourished child, 3-year-old Abdisalam Osman.

Later Monday, the Shabab banned 16 aid groups, including half-a-dozen UN agencies, from central and southern Somalia. The ban is likely to affect poor residents, hundreds of thousands of whom are suffering from the region’s drought and famine. A year-long drought wiped out crops and animal herds in the region, killing tens of thousands of people during the last six months and forcing tens of thousands more the flee as refugees.

Al Shabab said in a statement in English that the ban had been decided after a “meticulous year-long review and investigation” by their “Office for Supervising the Affairs of Foreign Agencies.” The committee, said the statement, had documented “the illicit activities and misconducts of some of the organizations.”

The aid groups are accused of disseminating information on the activities of Muslims and militant fighters, financing, aiding and abetting “subversive” groups seeking to destroy the basic tenets of the Islamic penal system, and of “persistently galvanizing the local population” against the full establishment of Sharia law, a harsh and punitive interpretation of Islam.

Among the agencies Al Shabab banned on Monday were UNICEF, the World Health Organization, UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Danish Refugee Council, German Agency For Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Action Contre la Faim, Solidarity, Saacid and Concern.

The Al Shabab statement accused the groups of misappropriating funds, collecting data, and working with “international bodies” to promote secularism, immorality and the “degrading values of democracy in an Islamic country.”

Britain will seek to build consensus on measures to tackle instability and piracy in Somalia, such as improved humanitarian aid and economic support, when it hosts a major international conference next February.

The meeting, to be hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron, will be held on Feb. 23 in London, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday. The high-level conference is expected to gather regional players, as well as representatives from the United States and other countries, a government source said.

With files from Michelle Shephard and Star Wire Services

Source: The Star

Tough sentences for Somali 'pirates' urged

French prosecutors urged a court on Monday to impose tough sentences of up to 16 years in prison on six Somali men on trial in Paris for taking a French couple hostage on their yacht.

"We cannot compromise on the fate and the freedom of our citizens," lead prosecutor Anne Obez-Vosgien told the court.

The "misery" of life in war-torn Somalia, she added, cannot "justify crime".

The six men, aged between 21 and 36, are facing charges of hijacking, kidnapping and armed robbery after they allegedly seized the yacht and its crew, Jean-Yves Delanne and his wife Bernadette, both aged 60, off the coast of Somalia in 2008.

The six were captured and flown to France after French special forces stormed the yacht, the Carre d'As IV, and rescued the couple. A seventh suspect was killed in the raid.

Obez-Vosgien called on the court to hand down three sentences of between 14 and 16 years, one of 13 to 15 years, one of eight years and one of six years.

The three longest sentences were demanded for the alleged ringleaders of the group while the shortest sentence was urged for one of the accused who was a minor at the time of the hostage-taking.

A verdict in the trial, which marks the first time France has prosecuted alleged Somali pirates, is due on Wednesday.

Somali suspects in three other cases are currently awaiting trial in France.

Dozens of ships, mainly merchant vessels, have been seized by gangs off Somalia's 3,700-kilometre (2,300-mile) coastline in recent years.

The pirates travel in high-powered speedboats and are armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. They sometimes hold ships for weeks until they are released for large ransoms paid by governments or owners.

Source: AFP

PROGRESS REPORT FROM THE PM OFFICE

THE ROADMAP TO END THE TRANSITION IN SOMALIA: PROGRESS REPORT, 24 NOVEMBER 2011

1. SECURITY:

1.1. The Joint Security Committee (JSC) has been meeting regularly for the past few months. The August JSC meeting was the first JSC meeting that took place within Mogadishu. The October JSC meeting was conducted in the new 2-day format called for by the Roadmap and, for the first time, included representatives from regional stakeholders, Puntland, Galmudug and ASWJ.

1.2. The National Security and Stabilization Plan 2011-2014 (NSSP) has been drafted and finalized with input from regional stakeholders, Puntland, Galmudug and ASWJ. The NSSP was debated and approved by the Council of Ministers at an emergency meeting on 26 October 2011. On 29 October, the NSSP was submitted to Parliament, for discussion and adoption when Parliament resumed after the Islamic Holiday (Eid) break.

1.3. The TFG-controlled security zone has been expanded – today, 98% of Mogadishu is under the control of the TFG. The ongoing stabilization of Mogadishu continues as the Somali Police and TFG forces consolidate gains after the August 2011 expulsion of Al-Shabaab from Mogadishu. New district administrations have been reestablished in the newly-liberated areas of Mogadishu.

1.4. The Somali Police and the National Somali Security Agency conduct regular patrols all over Mogadishu to strengthen law and order. They have established regular checkpoints around the city where they examine vehicles and collect arms.

1.5. The Prime Minister has established a special taskforce made up of Somali Police and TFG forces to secure humanitarian aid distribution in Mogadishu.

1.6. Furthermore, the Prime Minister holds regular meetings in coordination with the Ministry of Interior and National Security, with the Mayor, the Police Commissioner and the 16 District Commissioners, to discuss Mogadishu security.

The District Peace and Security Committees implement the outcomes and decisions of these meetings.

1.7. Outside Mogadishu, the TFG continues the offensive against Al-Shabaab in the south of the country in a joint military operation with Kenyan troops in Lower Juba and Middle Juba regions. In Gedo region, the TFG is in the process of stabilizing the region after succeeding in ousting Al-Shabaab and in creating a buffer-zone to deliver humanitarian aid.

1.8. On piracy issues, the Prime Minister has supported the work of the Anti-Piracy Taskforce already in place. The Taskforce is undertaking capacity building activities and rebuilding a robust national coastguard; coordinating between the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Interior and National Security, and the Ministry of Fisheries; and sharing information and collaborating with regional administrations under the Kampala Process on Piracy.

2. CONSTITUTION:

2.1. The Committee of Experts was appointed on 23 September 2011, made up of 9 members selected by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Constitution in consultation with stakeholders. This committee is currently in the process of preparing for the National Consultative Constitutional Conference.

2.2. A National Consultative Constitutional Conference is scheduled to take place in the second week of December 2011 in Garowe, Puntland. The topics to be discussed will include Federalism and Decentralized System of Administration and the outstanding contentious issues.

2.3. The Joint Committee to prepare for the adoption of the Draft Constitution and to prepare recommendations on the reform of the Federal Parliament was appointed on 20 November 2011.

2.4. On 17 November 2011, the Council of Ministers appointed a Cabinet Select Committee on Election Preparation. By 15 January 2012, this committee will deliver (1) draft legislation related to the establishment of an independent electoral commission and nominations for members of the electoral commission, (2) the rules governing the conduct of elections at district, regional and national level, and (3) the laws related to the formation and registration of political parties.

3. POLITICAL OUTREACH AND RECONCILIATION:

3.1. On 4-6 September 2011, the Consultative Conference on the Roadmap took place in Mogadishu, concluding successfully with the signing of this Roadmap. This meeting represented the first gathering of the TFG, Puntland, Galmudug and ASWJ.

3.2. The Mogadishu Consultative Conference was preceded by several high-level visits, including visits to Puntland by TFG Prime Minister H.E. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali on 26 August 2011 and by TFG President H.E. Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on 28 August 2011. Furthermore, TFG Prime Minister H.E. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali visited Galmudug on 30 August 2011, signing a historic 8-point plan on strengthening relations between the two administrations.

3.3. On 19 September 2011, a high-level reconciliation dialogue took place in Nairobi between the TFG Minister of Interior and National Security, the TFG Minister of Constitution and Reconciliation, the Deputy SRSG, and emerging regional administrations.

3.4. As part of the NSSP consultation process, the TFG sent a mission on 16 October 2011, led by the Deputy Minister for Interior and National Security to Puntland and Galmudug and to ASWJ areas. Another mission was undertaken in October 2011 by the TFG Chief of Armed Forces and AMISOM; one of the outcomes of this mission was the recruitment of soldiers from all regions for joint training in Uganda, to ensure the TFG forces represent all parts of the country.

3.5. Over the past 3 months, the TFG has supported local level reconciliation and peace building initiatives across the country, including but not limited to, sending reconciliation delegations to Galmudug, Himan and Heeb, Puntland and Gedo to reconcile conflicting groups.

3.6. Inclusivity and broad participation is one of the principles underlying the implementation of the Roadmap and civil society is a key partner of the TFG. Accordingly, a Civil Society Organization Consultative Meeting has been scheduled for 26-28 November 2011. The constituencies that will be represented are business community, traditional elders, diaspora, intellectuals and artists, NGOs and professional associations, religious leaders, women groups and youth representatives.

4. GOOD GOVERNANCE:

4.1. The Prime Minister has established several mechanisms for greater coordination and information sharing between Somali and international development and humanitarian agencies, as follows:

4.1.1. The Humanitarian Drought Response Ministerial Committee is a high-level committee of 8 Cabinet Ministers that was created on 30 June 2011 to oversee the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the influx of IDPs. This committee still meets weekly with international partners, local NGOs and the Somali Disaster Management Agency in order to ensure humanitarian goals continue to be met.

4.1.2. The Somali Disaster Management Agency was created as an independent agency by the Prime Minister on 25 July 2011 to manage all disaster issues within the country, and in particular the current famine situation. The agency has produced monthly reports since its establishment three months ago. The reports discuss all the incidents that occurred in the past month, the challenges faced by humanitarian actors, and the ongoing needs.

4.1.3. The Humanitarian Coordination Office was created in September 2011 within the Office of the Prime Minister. The Humanitarian Coordination Office is tasked with ensuring that the information flow between the TFG and humanitarian partners is smooth and efficient. In addition, the Humanitarian Coordination Office has brought together the Ministry of Interior and National Security, the Somali Disaster Management Agency, the UN OCHA and the Mogadishu Mayor’s Office into a working group to meet regularly and address the humanitarian crisis.

4.2. On 17 November 2011, the Select Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption reported back to the Council of Ministers on the legislative framework and recommended the reactivation of Law No. 10 of 1968 to reestablish the Bureau for Investigation of Corruption. By order of the Council of Ministers, the reestablished Bureau must update the laws within 60 days. The Interim Commissioners have been nominated and are in the process of being vetted. Their names will be announced shortly.

4.3. As an example of the TFG’s active stance on combating corruption, in October 2011, two Mogadishu district commissioners were arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced after they were found guilty of diverting food aid.

Source: The Nomad Times

UN envoy welcomes Somali and Central African progress on child soldiers

New commitments by Somalia’s transitional Government and the Central African Republic (CAR) to end the use of child soldiers are encouraging, a United Nations envoy stressed today, but warned that despite these advancements, the situation in both countries remains volatile.

During her recent visit to Somalia, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy secured a commitment from the President and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali to enter a process to end the recruitment and use of children by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Somalia is one of the two countries in the world that have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Ms. Coomaraswamy told reporters that the transitional Government agreed to appoint military and Government focal points to develop action plans on children associated with the TFG, and also committed accelerate the ratification of the CRC and its optional protocols.

During a press briefing, Ms. Coomaraswamy told reporters of her visit to a camp in downtown Mogadishu where Al-Shabaab defectors are held, including some 37 former child soldiers. She said she was highly alarmed by the living conditions and stressed it was a priority of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to separate children from these camps and provide them with help and special programmes.

The CAR also pledged to work with the UN to protect children through the ratification of the UN optional protocols on child soldiers by the end of the year.

Last week, Ms. Coomaraswamy signed an action plan and secured commitments for the end of recruitment and use of children by the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) and the Union des Forces Démocratiques pour la Rassemblement (UFDR), both rebel groups in CAR.

However, Ms. Coomaraswamy said there is still much to be done as children are recruited through many sources in both countries.

“As you know the State does not have a monopoly on violence,” she said. “We have five parties listed in CAR for recruiting and using of children. Three have signed action plans and we hope that they will be implemented, but the situation remains volatile.”

Ms. Coomaraswamy also stressed that ultimately the key to success would be the demobilization and reintegration of soldiers associated with armed groups.

The UN is supporting programmes for the reintegration of children associated with armed forces and groups. These programmes promote rehabilitation of children through counselling, back to school initiatives and skills-based training, including family reunification.

Source: UN News Centre

Somalia's al-Shabab militants close UN aid offices

Al-Shabab fighters have closed down several aid agencies working in famine-hit Somalia, including some from the UN, accusing them of political bias.

Banned:
Un agencies including UNHCR, Unicef and WHO, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Italy's Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI), Swedish African Welfare Alliance (SAWA), German Agency For Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and France's Action Contre la Faim (ACF)

Not banned:
ICRC, MSF and COSV (Italy)

Militants stormed aid offices in the towns of Baidoa and Beledweyne, which like many southern areas are controlled by al-Shabab, witnesses say.

Al-Shabab has long restricted the work of international aid groups but on Monday banned 16 groups outright.

Years of conflict mean Somalia is worst hit by the East African drought.

The lack of rain is said to be the worst in 60 years.
The list of groups banned outright included the United Nations refugee agency and other UN bodies, the British charity Concern and groups from Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, and Sweden.

The al-Shabab statement accused the groups of exaggerating the scale of the problems in Somalia for political reasons and to raise money.

It also alleges that the agencies are working with church groups trying to convert vulnerable Muslim children and opposing al-Shabab's attempts to impose Sharia law.

"Three armoured vehicles with gunmen surrounded the offices, including the office of [UN children's agency] Unicef," Baidoa resident Adulahi Idle told the AFP news agency.

"I saw many militiamen go inside the places and force the people there to leave and the men took control."

A senior al-Shabab official told the BBC that those groups which had been closed down had not carrying out many activities, and that the measures would not increase the suffering of ordinary people.
He also pointed out that three groups - the International Committee of the Red Cross, medical aid charity MSF and Italy's Copi - would still be allowed to operate.

The UN says the areas worst effected by famine are in the southern and central areas, which are under the control of the al-Qaeda linked group.

The UN-backed government only runs a few areas, including the capital, Mogadishu, which al-Shabab forces withdrew from in August.

Earlier this month, the UN said that famine conditions no longer existed in three of the areas previously worst affected - Bay, Bakool, and Lower Shabelle.

However, a quarter of a million people still face imminent starvation in the country, the UN says.

UN humanitarian affairs co-ordinator Mark Bowden told the BBC: "Somalia still remains the world's most critical situation."

Three other areas, including the squalid camps in the capital, Mogadishu, remain in a state of famine.

However, a senior aid worker familiar with the situation in Somalia who did not wish to be named told the BBC that the situation was still getting worse.

He said the UN could not admit this because it had to show the aid money was being well spent and having an impact.

Other aid workers have also warned that the situation could be worsened through conflict.

Kenya has sent troops into southern parts of Somalia, accusing al-Shabab of abducting Westerners from border areas - charges denied by the militants.

Tens of thousands of Somalis have fled rural areas - many over the borders to Ethiopia and Kenya - in search of food.

Somalia has not had a functioning central government for more than 20 years and has been wracked by fighting between various militias.

Source: BBC News

UN urges end to Somalia crisis

United Nations Political Office for Somalia has met with a cross section of the Somali civil society and rights groups in the Somali capital Mogadishu in a bid to solve the two-decade Somali crisis.

In attendance were regional players such as the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, semi-autonomous states of Puntland and Galmudug, as well as Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaa, a pro-government militia group who are battling al-Shabab fighters.

Somali Constitutional and Federal Affairs Minister told Press that the inclusion of the Somali civil society might see a change in the establishment of a long lasting Somali peace solution.

The United Nations Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia also saw the urgent need for the inclusion of the civil society, describing it as a critical player in the Somali peace and reconciliation process.

Civil right groups and Regional authorities like Puntland and Galmudug have also welcomed the UN initiative and have urges the people to be actively involved in the Somali peace process.

This is the second consultative session taking place in Somali since 1991 after Somali plunged into a civil war. Somalia crisis has left tens of thousands dead and millions others displaced in the country and the neighboring states.

This is the sixteenth attempt by the United Nations and the International community in finding a long lasting peace solution to the Somali crisis, but this is the first session that has seen the involvement and the active participation of the Somali civil society and rights groups in the Somali peace process.

Source: Press TV

Somalia’s maimed ‘other’ boys struggle to make a new life


Abdulqadir Abdi Dilahow, 23, left, and Ali Mohamed Gedi, 21, seen last month in Eastleigh, a neighbourhood in Nairobi, where they fled to from Somalia after Al Shabab publicly amputated their right hands and left feet in 2009 in a display meant to intimidate their fellow citizens.


For weeks, they spent their days in a tiny apartment, playing dominoes or cards, venturing out only for groceries.

Ali makes lunch, Abdulqadir dinner.

It is not much of a life, especially for Ali, who struggles to walk with a crutch and a cane since his leg was amputated. It’s a task made more difficult as he is also missing his right hand.

But it’s a better life than the one they escaped in Mogadishu, where they feared that Al Shabab, the militant Islamic group that robbed them of the life they once knew, would find them again and rob them of life altogether.

Ali Mohamed Gedi, 21 and Abdulqadir Abdi Dilahow, 23, are what some Somali-Canadians call the “other” boys.

In June 2009, they were kidnapped by Shabab members and dragged to a stadium along with two other young men. One by one, each had a hand and then a foot severed for refusing to join the militant group. The gruesome public amputation was intended as a warning to others of what would happen if you defied the Shabab.

Six months after the barbaric ritual, the Toronto Star featured the story of 17-year-old Ismail Khalif Abdulle, the youngest of those boys.

His plight touched Star readers. In September 2010, with the help of a former Somali-Canadian journalist living in Nairobi, Ismail escaped to Kenya. A couple of months later Norway accepted him as a refugee in need of immediate protection.

In January, Ismail flew with the Star to Harstad, a Norwegian town 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, where he now attends school, has his own apartment and receives medical care.

Ali, Abdulqadir and a third young man, believed to have escaped to Djibouti, were left behind.

Last month the pair agreed to come out of hiding in the chaotic Eastleigh suburb of Nairobi, whose residents are mainly Somali, to talk about their own escape and the challenges ahead. If there’s any jealousy about Ismail’s fate as compared to their own, they didn’t show it.

“We are so happy for what happened with Ismail,” says Ali, declining a cup of tea at the meeting with the Star. (He is fasting to try to make his prayers better heard.) “That really showed that the world cared about us.”

A group of activists in Toronto’s Somali community helped these “other” boys escape to Nairobi and are now trying to find them a permanent home.

“I hope they will also get a new chance elsewhere,” said one community leader, asking to remain anonymous.

Ali and Abdulqadir have applied to the United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, but the list is long. Somalia is in the grips of famine, and warring between Shabab fighters and combined forces from Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi and Uganda has sent refugees fleeing from southern Somalia. Many end up in Kenya.

When the Star met Ali he said his dream is simple: he wants a prosthetic leg. (He fled Somalia before he could receive one there.) Those who know him say he remains haunted by the public amputation and needs psychological counselling.

Both Ali and Abdulqadir’s eyes fill with tears when asked if they have difficulty sleeping since that day of horror.

“Forget nightmares,” says Ali. “We can’t even have knives in our kitchen.”

They use their teeth to cut vegetables or prepare food, they say.

A week after the Star met the pair in Eastleigh, Ali left for Mombasa on Kenya’s coast. He told Abdulqadir he was going to meet friends and relatives. But soon after, he called the Star and others in Toronto from Mombasa’s Shimo La Tewa prison.

Ali said authorities picked him up because he was not carrying proper identification after Kenya went on high alert after the Shabab issued warnings of retaliatory attacks.

Others in jail, taking pity on him, helped him raise part of the bail set by the court; Toronto’s Somali community sent him the rest this weekend.

“We, as Somalis in the diaspora, have the responsibility to rehabilitate and save lives,” said the community leader in Toronto. “We’ve lost an entire generation.”

Source: The Toronto Star

Somalia does not need a powerful state; this would perpetuate the war

By Richard Dowden, Royal African Society

The model for Somalia is Switzerland. Don’t laugh!

Improved security has enabled people to take to the beaches of Mogadishu. Picture: File

Political power in Switzerland lies in the cantons — the 26 proud self-governing communities. The state, such as it is, deals with international matters and national law.

Who cares — or even knows — who the president of Switzerland is? The way people live and are governed is decided locally. The Swiss confederation means that cantons have joined the state willingly. At one time they could leave if they wanted to.

Somalis — unlike the Swiss but like most Africans — are stuck with a Constitution that leaves total power in the hands of a president. Strong centralised states are the legacy of colonial rulers and, unsurprisingly, the inheritor governments have kept it that way.

Terrible wars — such as those in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Sudan — were fought to keep the countries together, but in the latter two, they failed. In Somalia, civil war began in the late 1980s and since then fragmentation has continued. Good. Leave it that way. It suits Somali society.

The odd factor is that Somalia is one of only two sub-Saharan African states more or less made up of a single ethnic group. The other is Botswana, the most peaceful country on the continent. But the Somalis are different. I realised that when I was having dinner with a minister at a restaurant in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. One of the waiters recognised my host and having delivered the food, decided to give the minister an earful. In most African countries, the man would have been dragged off to jail — or worse. But not only did the minister have to listen, he got to his feet and argued back. This was an argument between equals.

“Every man his own Sultan,” is how one Ugandan visitor described the Somalis in the mid 19th century.

Disputes

Traditionally, disputes between Somalis were sorted out by the clan elders, who would arrange compensation payments after clan or family battles or theft. In the north of Somalia, Somaliland, British indirect rule left the traditional leadership of clan elders — collectively known as the Gurti — in place. During colonial times, Somaliland virtually managed itself and the Gurti retained respect and authority. That has carried through to present times and Somaliland is stable with political parties and democratic elections. Twice, electoral disputes have reached crisis point in recent years. Each time, the politicians have turned to the Gurti for a ruling, which has been accepted by all. In the Italian-ruled south, the Gurti was dismissed in colonial times but it still exists beneath the surface.

Somalia’s civil war began in the 1980s between clans in a winner-takes-all battle for total national power. The former British-ruled northwest territory, Somaliland, declared independence. The northeast, Puntland, also declared itself self-governing until a proper government was restored. The centre, Galmudug, is also self-governing. The civil war continues as a battle for Mogadishu, the capital, and for the ports and fertile river valleys of the south. It has cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

Although alliances have shifted, no formula has been devised that can bring peace at a national level. The only period of peace was in 2005, when the clan warlords were defeated and Islamic courts took over the administration of justice and kept the peace.

A united, peaceful Somalia however, especially under the rule of Islamic courts, was a threat to Ethiopia. The Ethiopians persuaded the Americans this was Islamic fundamentalism taking over. The Ethiopian invasion at the end of 2006, backed by the US and, shamefully, Britain — which should have known better — in fact strengthened the fundamentalists. Three years later, the Ethiopians were forced to withdraw and were replaced by an African peacekeeping force of Ugandan and Burundian troops. Since then, they have managed to hold a small part of Mogadishu on behalf of a weak, ineffective government most of whose members reside in Nairobi.

The rest of the city and much of the south was at the mercy of Al Shabaab, an Islamic fundamentalist movement. But Al Shabaab made the crucial mistake of not letting foreign aid enter the country during the worst drought since the 1980s. That turned the drought into a famine and turned the people against Al Shabaab, forcing them out of Mogadishu and other areas to allow food aid to arrive.

This development, together with the Kenyan military incursion in the south, presents the government — known as the Transitional Federal Government — with an opportunity to prove itself and deliver food and security to the people. But this is unlikely to happen, according to Prof Ken Menkhaus, a Horn of Africa specialist.

“This is the TFG’s best and probably last chance to do something right by showing that it can and will govern well,” he says.
“I wish I could say I am hopeful it will, but the TFG’s track record so far points to the opposite conclusion — it has never missed the opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Meanwhile, holding elections is the way to continue the war, not end it. Political parties in Somalia are little more than a cover for clans, so an election simply elevates one clan over the others. Allow the government in Mogadishu to run the city and port, perhaps the Benadir region, but no further. Negotiations should then take place region by region about the relationship between the various regions and the capital, leaving power in local — not national — hands. The zones should be soft-bordered encouraging trade and dialogue between them. Taxes should be raised and spent locally. That is especially true of Somaliland, where the feeling against the south is still very bitter. Reunification with the south is unanimously opposed. Not a single Somalilander I know wants reunification. Not a single Somali from the rest of the country wants Somaliland to stay independent. Unless we are very careful, peace in the south of Somalia will mean war in the north.

Richard Dowden is director of the Royal African Society in London

Source: The East African

Somali Shebab rebels warn Ethiopia of 'heavy' losses'

The Shebab Islamist insurgent group warned Ethiopia on Sunday that it would suffer heavy losses if it embarks on any new military intervention in Somalia.

Ethiopian troops, who ended a US-backed three-year incursion into Somalia in 2009, were reported to have once again crossed the border last week as part of an offensive against the Shebab, a claim denied by the government in Addis Ababa.

"This intervention will not be different than that of yesterday and will lead to heavy loss of your soldiers' lives, and be assured that ahead of you is painful death and ruthless imprisonment which will impact on the good living standards you wished for," a Shebab statement said.

The group claims to have ties to Al-Qaeda and controls much of central and southern Somalia.

Sheik Ibrahim Mohamed, an Al-Shabab commander, told AFP that Ethiopia would be returning "before the blood of their sons who were killed in Somalia is even dry."

"Let them come and sniff the kind of gunpowder we have here," Mohamed said.

East African leaders on Friday urged Ethiopia to support Kenyan, African Union and Somali troops battling Shebab rebels in the war-torn Horn of Africa state.

Kenya deployed forces in October to fight the Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents in southern Somalia, while the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is based in Mogadishu where it protects the weak Somali government from the rebels.

The rebels are also under pressure from the Somali Transitional Federal Government and 9,700 Burundian and Ugandan troops from the AU force.

Ethiopia's Foreign Affairs spokesman Dina Mufti said his country's contribution "will be worked out soon."

Over the weekend, several witnesses told AFP they had seen Ethiopian soldiers cross the border.

Abdi Macin, a driver, claimed he saw a dozen trucks carrying Ethiopian infantry near Kalabeyrka.

Source: AFP

Best way to end piracy is stop paying ransom: Somali diplomat

Somalia believes that payment of huge ransom to pirates made them greedier for bigger gains, and wants this practice to stop.

Somalia’s ambassador to India Ebyan Mahamed Salah told an international conference in Gandhinagar near here on Saturday that “the simplest and the least costly way to stop sea piracy is to stop paying ransoms”.

Speaking at the ‘Global Maritime Security and Anti-Piracy Conference-2011’, she said the Somalis caught along the Gujarat coast recently were not pirates but likely fishermen who had lost their way, adding that the fact that the detained men did not possess any weapon and pleaded they were innocent.

Two batches of African nationals were caught near Junagadh and Dwarka along the Gujarat coast on June 20 and 27. Of these 32 are Somalis and suspected to be pirates.

Salah said that her government was having a dialogue with the Indian government for release of the 110-odd Somalis languishing in jails, all of them caught by the Indian Navy.

“We don’t want our nationals to be a burden on any other country. We would prefer to take them back to Somalia,” she said.

She also informed the delegates from around 35 countries and global organisations that Somalia would soon have a legislative framework in place to help tackle the menace caused by the pirates who had extorted $238 million in 44 attacks in 2010 in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Guinea, Southeast Asia, South and Central America and the Caribbean.

Salah also said that the Somali government would organise an anti-piracy conference in Dubai soon.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who inaugurated the conference said that his government had set up a radar-based vessel traffic management system on the major sea routes, 12 modern coastal police stations, 31 high-mechanised boats and 600 maritime commandos and a Gujarat Maritime Police Academy was on the anvil.

mahesh@khaleejtimes.com

Source: The Khaleej Times

Ethnologue Report for Somalia

Somali Democratic Republic, Jamhuriyadda Dimugradiga Somaliya. Formerly British and Italian Somaliland. 8,196,000. National or official languages: Somali, Standard Arabic, English. Most of the Arabic and all of the people from India and Italy have left. Literacy rate: 24%–40% (1977 C. Brann).

Immigrant languages: Italian (4,000), Ta’izzi-Adeni Spoken Arabic (11,500). Information mainly from B. Andrzejewski 1975, 1978; D. Biber 1984; M. Lamberti 1986; A. Mansur 1986; K. Menkhaus 1989. Blind population: 10,000 (1982 WCE). The number of individual languages listed for Somalia is 13. Of those, all are living languages.

Arabic, Standard [arb] Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic.

Aweer [bob] Few if any in Somalia (1991). Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Rendille-Boni.

Boon [bnl] 59 (2000). Middle Jubba region, Jilib District, scattered in the bush in settlements of 2 or 3 houses with nearest relatives. Alternate names: Af-Boon. Dialects: There are similarities to Somali [som]. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East Nearly extinct.

Dabarre [dbr] 23,000 (2006). Dabarre around Dhiinsoor District, May region; Iroole in Baraawe District, Lower Shabeelle region, and Qansax Dheere. Alternate names: Af-Dabarre. Dialects: Dabarre, Iroole (Af-Iroole). A very distinctive language in the Digil clan family. Dialects are clan names. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali.

English [eng] Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, English.

Garre [gex] 57,500 (2006). Ethnic population: Possibly several hundred thousand (1992). Mostly south, especially Wanle Weyn-Buur Hakaba; Baydhaba, Dhiinsoor, Buurhakaba, and Qoryooley districts; Middle and Lower Shabeelle and Bay regions. Alternate names: Af-Garre. Dialects: Reportedly linguistically similar to Boni [bob]. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali.

Jiiddu [jii] 23,000 (2006). Lower Shabeelle Bay and Middle Jubba regions, Qoryooley, Dhiinsoor, Jilib, and Buurhakaba districts. Alternate names: Af-Jiiddu, Jiddu. Dialects: Distinct from Somali [som] and Tunni [tqq], usually grouped under the Digil dialects or languages. Different sentence structure and phonology from Somali. More similar to Somali than to Baiso [bsw]. Some similarities to Konsoid languages and to Gedeo [drs], Alaba-Kabeena [alw], Hadiyya [hdy], and Kambaata [ktb]. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali.

Maay [ymm] 1,860,000 in Somalia (2006). South, Gedo region, Middle and Lower Shabeelle, Middle and Lower Jubba, Baay, and Bakool regions. Also in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, United States. Alternate names: Af-Maay, Af-Maay Tiri, Af-May, Af-Maymay, Rahanween, Rahanweyn. Dialects: Af-Helledi. May be more than one language; the dialects form a continuum. Standard Somali [som] is difficult or unintelligible to Maay speakers, except when learned through mass communications, urbanization, and internal movement. Different sentence structure and phonology from Somali. The Rahanwiin (Rahanweyn) clan confederacy speak various Maay dialects or languages. Af-Helledi is a Maay secret language used by hunters. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali.

Mushungulu [xma] 23,000 (2006). South, Lower Jubba region, Jamaame District center; urban areas: Kismaayo and Muqdisho. Alternate names: Kimushungulu, Mushunguli. Dialects: May be the same as, or intelligible with, Zigula [ziw] or Shambala [ksb]. Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, G, Zigula-Zaramo (G.30).

Oromo, Borana-Arsi-Guji [gax] 41,600 in Somalia (2000). Gedo region. Alternate names: Southern Oromo. Dialects: Borana (Booran, Boran). Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Oromo.

Somali [som] 8,340,000 in Somalia (2006). Population total all countries: 13,871,700. Widespread. Also in Canada, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Finland, Italy, Kenya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Yemen. Alternate names: Af-Maxaad Tiri, Af-Soomaali, Common Somali, Standard Somali. Dialects: Northern Somali, Benaadir, Af-Ashraaf (Ashraaf). Northern Somali is basis for Standard Somali. Readily intelligible to Benaadir Somali speakers, but difficult or unintelligible to most Maay [ymm]. Those in Merka and Muqdisho speak Af-Ashraaf, a distinct variety which may have limited inherent intelligibility with Standard Somali. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali.

Swahili [swh] 184,000 in Somalia (2006). Mwini in Baraawe (Brava), Lower Shabeelle, and scattered in southern towns; Bajun in Kismaayo District and nearby coast. Most fled to Kenya due to civil war. Dialects: Mwini (Mwiini, Chimwiini, Af-Chimwiini, Barwaani, Bravanese), Bajuni (Kibajuni, Bajun, Af-Bajuun, Mbalazi, Chimbalazi). Classification: Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Narrow Bantu, Central, G, Swahili (G.40).

Tunni [tqq] 23,000 (2006). Lower Shabeelle and Middle Jubba regions, Dhiinsoor, Baraawe, and Jilib districts. Alternate names: Af-Tunni. Dialects: Distinct from Somali [som] or Jiiddu [jii], usually grouped under the Digil dialects or languages. Different sentence structure and phonology from Somali [som]. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Somali.

Source: www.ethnologue.com

Museveni, Kibaki, Shiek Sharif discuss about the Ogaden factor

New details have emerged that show that despite the display of diplomatic niceties and pledges of co-operation between Kenya and the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia, deep misgivings remain in Mogadishu that Kenya’s engagement is likely to shift the power balance in Somalia in favour of the populous Ogaden clan.

Apparently, the inner circle in Mogadishu is uncomfortable with the visibility and prominence in the Kenyan military operation of Kenyan ethnic Somalis — a good number of whom are members of the Ogaden clan.

A top Kenya government official involved in the negotiations told The EastAfrican last week that the elite of the TFG were also still not agreed on the appropriate level and extent of Kenya’s engagement in the crisis.

It is understood that when Somalia’s President, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed visited Kampala early this month to hold discussions with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, the lead item on the agenda was the Ogaden factor and Mogadishu’s worry that the Kenyan operation had the potential of stoking parochial nationalism, leading to agitation for a breakaway province bordering Kenya.

It was after the meeting in Kampala that Museveni agreed to organise a meeting between Sheikh Sharif and President Mwai Kibaki. Earlier, Museveni had also raised the issue with Prime Minister Raila Odinga when they met in Tel Aviv where both were on an official visit.

Apart from the fact that Uganda has a big contingent in Amisom, the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, Kampala’s interests in the country — whether economic or geostrategic — remain limited in comparison with Ethiopia and Kenya.

Ever the arbiter

But President Museveni would appear to be keen to play arbiter between Kenya and Ethiopia on the one hand and the TFG on the other to shore up his credentials as a key player in regional politics.

The Horn of Africa is characterised by permeable borders with ethnic groups overlapping national boundaries and extensive flows of people, goods and services — whether legal or illegal — between states.

The misgivings about Kenya grew when a group of Ogaden leaders met in Nairobi to discuss the formation of a semi-autonomous Jubaland that will comprise northern regions of Lower and Middle Juba and Gedo on the Kenya-Somalia border.

The meeting had proposed Jubaland as the third semi-autonomous breakaway region after Somaliland [northwestern Somalia] and Puntland [northeastern Somalia].
A group of former Somali MPs told the Nairobi meeting that if created, Jubaland would act as a buffer zone and frustrate incursions by Al Shabaab, prevent entry of refugees, and smuggling of arms into Kenya.

Muhammad Gandhi, a former defence minister in Somalia who is co-ordinating the plan, said it would bring stability in the region occupied by Al Shabaab. “We are ready to liberate the three regions from Al Shabaab,” he said.

The delegates adopted a regional constitution with 81 articles to help govern the proposed state of Jubaland. They also elected Prof Gandhi as the new president of Jubaland.

They said the new region would be fashioned on the model of the autonomous Puntland and Somaliland in the north.

“We intend to conclude a plan of action that has been ongoing for the past two years. We must restore nationhood and unity to the people of Somalia who have suffered for the past 20 years,” said Prof Gandhi.

The anxiety over clannism revives the issue of the 4.5 Clan formula that was developed at the last peace conference in Nairobi in 2004, but which has never been properly implemented.

The 4.5 formula was meant to give equal quotas for representation in government to the four major clans, and a half-point to the fifth, the cluster of minority clans.

Now, there are concerns that the planned annihilation of Al Shabaab could leave a vacuum and lead to the re-emergence of clannism and warlords.

Soon after the collapse of the Siad Barre administration in 1991, the country was carved up into clan enclaves led by warlords, who started fighting among themselves.

In Kenya, the same clannism has characterised the relations among the Kenyan Somali and to some extent does not allow intermarriage.

The Ogaden or Daarood are the majority among the Kenyan Somali and are the ones who have held senior positions in government and military over the years. The same inter-clan rivalry arguably led to the infamous Wagalla massacre in 1984, when the military descended on Wajir purportedly to defuse clan-related conflict between the Ajuuran and the Dogodia.

The Ogaden mainly live in in Wajir and Garissa districts. The Hawiye are found in Mandera district, the Ajuuran are mainly found in Wajir, Marsabit and Isiolo.

The Hawiye allies live in Moyale, Mandera and Wajir, while the Dogodia are in Wajir, some in Mandera, a few in Garissa, Marsabit and Moyale.

The Daarood-Harti are concentrated in Nairobi, Mombasa and towns throughout Kenya, including towns in North Eastern Province. The Isaaq (non-Daarood, non-Hawiye) are found in Nairobi, Mombasa and other towns, and towns of North Eastern.

But even as clannism is ripe among the Kenyan Somali, the post-election violence of 2007/8 has elevated the community in Kenya to the status of neutral “peacemakers” where ethnic rivalry is at its highest. As a result, Kenyan Somalis have been given key appointments because they are seen as neutral and outside the PNU-ODM rivalry. The best example is the chairman of the newly created Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Isaack Hassan, who is perceived as a neutral arbiter and who is being looked to to help the country avoid the problems that beset the 2007 elections.

Even as the military operation in Somalia continues, Kenya is still on a diplomatic offensive to get donor support to launch a major relief operation in liberated areas.

A top government official told The EastAfrican that the plan was to build IDP camps, schools and hospitals in liberated territories.

The thinking is that better infrastructure and relief operations will make it easier for the TFG to establish a civilian administration in the liberated territories.

Nairobi is also counting on the new Amisom soldiers pledged by the African Union (AU) member states to be gradually deployed in the liberated areas — setting the stage for a gradual exit of Kenyan troops.

Source: The East Africa

SOMALIA: Where famine is a crime is a crime

BY MICHELLE SHEPHARD
NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER

The medical chart Abdisalam Osman’s mother uses to flick away flies says her youngest son suffers from acute malnutrition and the measles. A chest X-ray will soon reveal he also has tuberculosis.

When he arrived at Mogadishu's Benadir Hospital, 3-year-old Abdisalam weighed only 14 pounds. Each laborious breath made his tiny rib cage stick out even farther.

He lies beside his mother, unable to cry; all his energy reserved for his weak gasps.

“A 50-50 chance,” says Dr. Shafie Mohamed Jimale, gently touching the little boy’s emaciated arm. The 30-year-old Somali pediatrician, trained in Sudan, became a father two months earlier; his son was born at the height of the famine that is mainly killing children.

Many of his patients have died. About 50-50.

When Somalia’s famine was declared in July there were emergency calls for help and shocking statistics: 29,000 children had died in the worst drought in 60 years.

A global relief effort has helped save some. Last Friday, the United Nations Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit downgraded famine declarations for three southern regions, thanks to the rains that have finally come and emergency food aid.

But the UN warns that 250,000 are at risk as cholera, malaria and other diseases spread through crowded hospitals and camps. Tens of thousands of others still face starvation.

This famine should not have come as a shock. And if its roots are not understood and the world looks away again, Somalia’s cycle of despair — corruption, starvation, war, death — will continue, dragging children like Abdisalam into its abyss.

So what caused the famine?

Back-to-back droughts killed the livestock and destroyed the farms throughout the Horn of Africa, like the one Abdisalam’s family tended.

The southern region of the country is also warring with Al Shabab, the militant Islamic group that has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda, and starved its own people by blocking outside foreign aid.

These are the easy answers.

These are the hard ones: Somalia’s rampant and criminal government-corruption; a war on terror at the expense of aid; and a lucrative crisis industry that spends millions that Somalis will never see.

This is why this country has topped Foreign Policy’s index of failed states for the last three years and why a drought that affected the entire Horn of Africa became a famine only in Somalia.

The scope of the tragedy is overwhelming. Last Friday’s UN announcement on easing famine conditions did not include Mogadishu. The city remains a famine zone.

Tents made of sticks and cloth, pitched between dilapidated buildings, house the starving and desperate. The sea of people in the camps ripples endlessly. It is difficult to get an accurate estimate, but it is believed that more than 100,000 have arrived since July.

Water is still scarce and largely contaminated. Mounds of human feces dot walkways between the shelters. Security is a problem. Rapes and abuses have been reported. Few foreign aid groups have come, with the exception of the Turks, who have taken over a large region of the city now called “Little Istanbul.”

Across the street from Tarabunka, a sprawling camp of more than 16,000, the graveyard is already near capacity. Ali Kafi, one of the farmers-turned-gravediggers, says he hunts untouched patches of red earth to find burial plots. Before 10 on one October morning, three babies and a young woman, nine-months pregnant, were buried. It was a typical day.

The good news for Mogadishu is that there are few visible remnants of the Shabab, which has waged war against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for nearly three years.

Weakened themselves by the famine and claiming to withdraw for “tactical” purposes, hundreds of Shabab fighters abruptly left the capital this summer.

This is why Abdisalam’s family trekked here from the south, believing there would be help in Mogadishu from the TFG, the UN-backed parliament of 550, propped up by a 9,000-member African Union peacekeeping force of Burundian and Ugandan soldiers.

The TFG had an opportunity to repair its badly damaged reputation and make the famine a priority. That didn’t happen.

As people began to starve earlier this year, the country’s president and its parliamentary speaker — President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Speaker Hassan Sharif, who are known as the “Two Sharifs” — were locked in a dispute, trying to shore up political support as they debated at conferences in Djibouti, Kenya or Uganda.

“They say the fish starts rotting from the head,” says Abdi Rashid, an analyst with the International Crisis Group. “At the height of the famine, there was a president who was busy holding meetings with clan elders, not talking about the famine, but about the struggle with the speaker of parliament.”

But the “Two Sharifs” are not the only members of the TFG accused of political gamesmanship or corruption.

One senior TFG official says he is disgusted with his government’s continued focus on politics and power.

“What are we doing?” he asks. “People are dying and we’re focusing on passing a road map?”

The “road map,” brokered by representatives with the United Nations, is intended to move the government beyond being transitional to drafting a constitution and holding parliamentary elections on Aug. 20.

Ken Menkhaus, noted American analyst on Somali affairs, calls this “a case of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Rashid agrees, saying he has abandoned any hope he once had for the TFG.

“The TFG is beyond the pale,” says Rashid. “It will fail and it will fail miserably. People who are at the helm of affairs at the TFG are not people who are interested in anything beyond their own interests.”

But Rashid also questions those who provide aid — the UN-funded groups and non-government organizations that have managed to ease the famine conditions now, but have wasted millions in Nairobi and have little presence in Somalia.

Rashid calls this the “crisis cottage industry,” which has exploded in the two decades since Somalia’s government collapsed. Pricey conferences, facilities, salaries, studies and projects — all concerning Somalia and all held in Nairobi.

“This is part of the saddest aspect,” says Rashid.

“You have a massive industry that has grown around the crisis … Sometimes it’s foolish interventions, or naïve, ill-informed approaches. I don’t think there’s a grand conspiracy by the NGO community to keep Somalia the way it is, no. A lot of the defective policies are because no one wants to do the hard work, the right things,” says Rashid.

“Everyone wants the short-term. Budgets are short-term. Government policy is short-term. This is part of the problem.”

This is why Abdisalam suffers.

The road that runs between Villa Somalia and the Benadir Hospital, where Abdisalam lies, is clogged with cars and trucks carrying cargo that defy gravity. The loudest horn and biggest guns rule. Only solo drivers are given wide berth for fear they are suicide bombers — the Shabab’s preferred method of attack.

Villa Somalia, also known as the White House, is the elevated and fortified compound in the centre of the city where the “Two Sharifs,” the prime minister and a handful of MPs conduct business.

It is also where millions of dollars have gone missing in the seven years since the TFG was first created.

Matt Bryden, who heads the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, argues it is no longer simply corruption when hundreds of thousands have died as a result of this stolen aid. It is a war crime.

Both the Shabab and TFG must be investigated and held accountable, Bryden wrote in a paper last month for Enough Project, a Washington-based program at the Center for American Progress.

“It may seem unrealistic today that leaders of Al Shabab would ever face trial, but the same could have been said about the leaders of the Khmer Rouge or Bosnian Serbs,” Bryden wrote.

“And those who have undermined and brought shame upon the TFG and its affiliates by commodifying their own people, using them as lures for personal profit, are no less guilty and more readily accessible to the reach of international justice.”

Corruption may be endemic in any country that has not had a functioning government for years, but the scale alleged in Somalia is staggering.

A May financial audit alleged that between 2009-2010, more than $70 million in donor assistance from the U.S., Libya, Sudan, UAE and elsewhere had gone missing.

Another $300 million in internal revenues from taxes, port duties and the telecommunications industry was also misused, according to the audit compiled by the Public Finance Management Unit, a government watchdog. And a combined total of almost $1.5 million was reported missing from the offices of the president and parliamentary speakers.

Government officials slammed the report as “mere speculation.”

Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, a Harvard-educated economist who has lived most of his adult life in the U.S., is Somalia’s newest prime minister — the third in two years.

He was appointed in June, after the report was released, and he is tired of talking about corruption. “Total garbage. (The audit) was rubbish,” he said in his office at Villa Somalia.

He said the report’s author, Abdirazak Fartaag, worked in his predecessor’s office and had an axe to grind.

Fartaag could not be reached for comment but told the Associated Press, “If the government says I am lying, let them open their records.”

The audit is not the only report of past corruption. Among the findings contained in the 417-page UN Monitoring Group report released in July is the fact that most of the Shabab’s ammunition came from African Union forces.

“Ammunition continues to leak from the custody of TFG and militia commanders to the illicit market,” the report states.

Simply put, this means that AU ammunition is ending up on the illegal market. Which the Shabab is purchasing. Which means the Shabab is fighting AU forces with their own bullets.

Since taking office, Abdiweli said he has established an anti-corruption commission but insists the greater battle is fighting the perception of corruption.

“Once something is said others will repeat it again and again and it becomes a reality,” Abdiweli says. “The issue of not trusting the government, the issue of corruption — I’m not saying there’s no corruption, but we’re not the government of thieves that’s for sure.”

There are honest brokers within the TFG. But until past crimes are investigated, no one will be trusted. Others say the corruption is so endemic that even those with good intentions are powerless. And it hasn’t stopped.

An investigation by the Associated Press this summer found thousands of sacks of food aid that had arrived in Mogadishu — clearly stamped UN World Food Program, USAID, and the Japanese government — were leaving the port, under the TFG’s control, bypassing the camps and being sold for profit.

Following the report, the WFP acknowledged it was investigating food theft.

But this was not the first time the WFP had heard of this crime. In 2009, as the UN was warning of a humanitarian disaster of “near-famine conditions,” London-based Somali journalist Jamal Osman documented stolen WFP aid.

In 2010, a UN report to the Security Council condemned the program’s failure to tender distribution contracts. Like many large aid organizations, the WFP does not base its own staff members in Mogadishu or southern Somalia, citing security concerns, but hires local contractors.

“For more than 12 years, delivery of WFP food aid has been dominated by three individuals and their family members or close associates,” the UN report stated.

“In 2009, these three individuals secured 80 per cent of WFP delivery contracts as part of the WFP transportation budget of approximately $200 million … these three men have become some of the wealthiest and most influential individuals in Somalia.”

One of the three rich men, Abukar Omar Adaani, is widely regarded as a Somali kingmaker. Adaani is credited with elevating President Sharif from little-known teacher to the country’s president. But like many of Somali’s businessmen, Adaani’s allegiances are fleeting.

The 2010 UN Security Council report stated Adaani had been rebuffed by Sharif after he was appointed president in 2009. He failed to award Adaani the power he sought or “compensation that (Adaani) reportedly valued at $50 million.”

According to the report, the jilted Adaani went on to bankroll the Shabab. While he purportedly supports the Shabab’s ideology, the shift was also about money. The Shabab controls most of Somalia’s lucrative southern ports, including the vital Kismayo port.

Now some speculate Adaani has found a way to recoup his investment through the seaport manager in Mogadishu, Sayid-Ali Moalin Abdulle. According to his own testimony to the UN Monitoring Group, Abdulle is a relative and longtime Adaani employee, something the TFG would have known when appointing him.

In July, the UN report accused the TFG of being “complicit” in allowing goods to fall into Shabab hands in Kismayo: “(M)ost commercial motor vessels transporting goods to the port of Mogadishu discharge only part of their cargoes in order to deliver the remainder to Kismayo … with the full knowledge of the Mogadishu port authority.”

Adaani could not be reached for comment.

Abdisalam Osman was born into war in 2008, in Lower Shabelle, southwest of Mogadishu.

The flat land, which borders the Indian Ocean, is perfect for farmers, like Abdisalam’s family.

Most of Abdisalam’s five siblings had been born amid violence, since Somalia has been experiencing one conflict or another since the government collapsed in 1991. But even by Somalia’s standards, 2008 was bleak — the second year of a war in which Ethiopian forces, backed by the U.S., fought against an Islamic group.

It was during this war that Al Shabab (meaning “the youth”) rose to power. The group’s popularity soared, as Somalis rallied in a patriotic battle against its longtime rival neighbour. By the time Ethiopia withdrew in 2009, the Shabab was a fighting force, imposing its strict Al Qaeda-influenced doctrine.

When Abdisalam was born on his father’s maize farm, counterterrorism officials in Washington listed the group as a foreign terrorist organization. It would have devastating consequences in Somalia.

Two years of war had displaced thousands but as the humanitarian crisis worsened, the U.S., Somalia’s number one donor, suspended $50 million in USAID funding, concerned it may benefit the Shabab.

Aid groups trying to operate in Somalia had always been forced to pay “taxes” to warlords or clan leaders to ensure their safe operation. But after the war, it was the Shabab who controlled the south and most of Mogadishu. The U.S. terrorism sanctions meant aid workers could be charged if support — inadvertently or not — went to the Shabab.

Mark Bowden, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, accused the U.S. administration of fighting its war on terror with aid. “We’re no longer involved in a discussion about the practicalities of delivering humanitarian assistance,” he told reporters in early 2010. It is “an issue of where assistance can be provided on political grounds.”

Arab aid groups — stinging from post 9/11 incriminations — were wary.

The Shabab compounded the suffering by banning the World Food Program and imposing “conditions” on aid groups, including a $20,000 “tax” every six months and the dismissal of all female staff.

All this happened before the first drought hit last fall. When the crops and livestock died and people began to starve, there were few agencies with the ability to provide emergency aid.

Everyone was in Nairobi, where, Rashid says, a “crisis cottage industry” thrives.

When spring’s rainy season failed, too, the food shortage was catastrophic. In July, the UN declared the Lower Shabelle one of two famine zones.

The Shabab, with its own members starving and struggling for funds, was at its weakest in years and pulled out of Mogadishu in August.

As a counterterrorism strategy, starving the Shabab of revenue proved a success.

But withholding aid also starved the people — like Abdisalam and his family.

Although the U.S. administration has vehemently denied that counterterrorism measures contributed to the famine, the U.S. issued new guidelines in August to “clarify that aid workers… are not in conflict with U.S. laws and regulations.”

Still, there is confusion, says Joe Belliveau, operations manager in Somalia for Médecins Sans Frontières. “The bottom line is that it certainly does not encourage humanitarian action,” Belliveau says. “It’s fine to say that these conditions are lifted and maybe that will help in the short term, but the fact that those laws are on the books remains a major deterrent.”

Abdisalam is defying the odds that have conspired against him — the war against the Shabab, corruption, ineffective aid groups and a famine that the world failed to stop but is now trying to ease.

The nutrition supplements provided by the hospital have made him stronger and TB medication has calmed his breathing.

“He’s a fighter,” said Jimale, the doctor who has volunteered at the city-run Benadir Hospital for the last two years.

Abdisalam was discharged from the hospital three weeks ago and Jimale said the little boy’s odds of survival had increased to more than 80 per cent.

But Abdisalam and his family haven’t returned home. The rains may have come and eased the drought, but a Kenyan-led offensive to fight the Shabab has left the region war torn again.

Abdisalam now lives in one of the camps, just one of thousands getting by, waiting for help.

Source: The Star

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Somalia: FGS KÖLN Completes a Very Successful Deployment to EU Navfor

Press release

On 24 November 2011,FGS KÖLN conducted her last day of operations as a part of EU NAVFOR, after 74 days in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin.

During this deployment, FGS KÖLN was tasked in all aspects of Operation ATALANTA, ranging from the escort of World Food Programme ships carrying food-aid into Somalia to counter-piracy and surveillance operations along the Somali coast.

A total of 42 failed pirates were stopped at sea and seven small boats from four separate groups were destroyed. In addition, five Somali fishermen were rescued and the hijacked Dhow AL JABAL, with two Yemeni hostages on board, was handed over to Yemeni authorities and her owner.

EU NAVFOR Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Duncan L. Potts, expressed his thanks to the Commanding Officer and ship's company, stating:-

"As you leave the Operation ATALANTA theatre, I offer my congratulations and thanks for all you have done and achieved this autumn. Proactive & determined, your actions in not only defending World Food Programme Programme ships against the pirates but more significantly your action to neutralise a number of pirate action groups has made a hugely important contribution to our campaign. You can be immensely proud of what you have done and I wish you a safe return to Germany.

Commander of the Task Force 465, Rear Admiral Thomas E.P. Jugel wrote:- "Your spirit, excellence and eagerness were more than welcome in EUNAVFOR Somalia Operation ATALANTA."

This deployment marks the end of the FGS KÖLN's career after 27 years of service in the German Navy as she will be decommissioned on return to Germany.

EU NAVFOR conducts counter-piracy in the Indian Ocean and is responsible for the protection of World Food Program ships carrying humanitarian aid for the people of Somalia and the logistic support vessels of the African Union troops conducting Peace Support Operations in Somalia. Additionally, EU NAVFOR monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.

Source: The European Union Naval Force Somalia

Somali diaspora adds new twist to the war against Al-Shabaab

Abdisalan Hussein Ali, a slight, talkative American born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, had fairly good prospects in life.

Ali, 22, majored in chemistry at university and had been admitted to medical school.

Last week, the New York Times reported that his life came to a bloody end in Mogadishu.

Ali was one of two bombers who blew themselves up in a suicide attack that killed several African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu last week. Before he died, Ali left a suicide note urging more Americans to join what he called the jihad in Somalia.

Ali was one of a large group of foreigners who have swelled the ranks of Al-Shabaab since the group gained prominence in 2006.

That contingent of foreign fighters – numbering in the hundreds according to experts – has changed the make-up of what was originally a nationalist movement aiming to impose an Islamic state in Somalia and turned the Shabaab into an extension of the global movement of extremists that has loyalties to Al-Qaeda.

Somalia analysts say it is this influential foreign contingent that has radicalised the Somali youth in Al-Shabaab and driven the evolution of the movement from a domestic insurgency into a militant group with ambitions to strike far outside Somalia.

The foreign influence on Al-Shabaab goes back to the early 1990s.

Osama bin Laden was expelled from Saudi Arabia after a crown prince got fed up with his vocal opposition to the presence of American troops in the Arabian Peninsula, and especially his opposition to the first Gulf war.

Bin Laden found a home in Afghanistan and later travelled to Sudan where he refined his plans for a global war against the United States.

According to a new research paper by David Shinn, a professor at George Washington University who served the State Department in the Horn of Africa for many years, bin Laden primarily relied on Abu Hafs al Masri, an Al-Qaeda operative from Egypt described as one of the terrorist’s most talented and trusted lieutenants.

“Based on declassified Al-Qaeda documents, it is clear that Abu Hafs, an Egyptian by birth, made multiple trips to Somalia beginning 1992,” Prof Shinn writes in the Foreign Policy Research Institute paper, Al-Shabaab’s Foreign Threat in Somalia.

“Al-Qaeda believed that Somalia offered a safe haven for its operations in the region and encouraged it to target the United States in Somalia and the Arabian Peninsula. The first Al-Qaeda operatives left Peshawar, Pakistan, transited in Kenya, and arrived in Somalia in February 1993. The group worked closely with Al-Ittihad Al-Islamiyya and established three training camps in Somalia.

“Abu Hafs expected Somalia would become a low-cost recruiting ground where disaffected Somalis in a failed state would readily accept Al-Qaeda and enthusiastically join the fight to expel the international peacekeeping force, briefly led by the United States, which began arriving in Mogadishu in 1992. Somalia appeared to be, in the eyes of Al-Qaeda, another Afghanistan.”

In fact, Prof Shinn says, Somalia proved to be a difficult territory to operate due to labyrinthine clan loyalties in the country and the cost of corruption in places such as Kenya, through which the foreign fighters needed to transit.

In his history of Al-Qaeda’s rise from a small organisation in the deserts of Afghanistan to one of the most successful fundamentalist groups in the world, journalist Lawrence Wright records that bin Laden briefly considered living in Somalia but decided against it after concluding he could not hide in a country where “it is considered good manners to gossip”.

Al-Qaeda surmised that Somalia was not Afghanistan, and the organisation was unable to gain the type of foothold they had established in the Middle East.

“Al-Qaeda underestimated the cost of operating in Somalia. Getting in and out of the country was costly while expenses resulting from corruption in neighbouring states were high. Al-Qaeda experienced regular extortion from Somali clans and unanticipated losses when bandits attacked their convoys. It overestimated the degree to which Somalis would become jihadists, especially if there was no financial incentive, and failed to understand the importance of traditional Sufi Islam.

“Unlike the tribal areas of Pakistan, it found a lawless land of shifting alliances that lacked Sunni unity. The primacy of clan ultimately frustrated Al-Qaeda’s efforts to recruit and develop a strong, unified coalition. The jihadi foreigners from Al-Qaeda concluded during this early initiative in Somalia that the costs outweighed the benefits.”

Al-Qaeda’s foray into Somalia was not entirely fruitless. They landed the first blow when their affiliates killed 18 US servicemen who had gone to Mogadishu as peacekeepers; Somalia was later used as a base from which to launch the attacks in Kenya in August 1998 and November 2002.

But foreign involvement in the conflict in Somalia remained low-key until two separate factors triggered a flood of fighters from the huge Somali diaspora in Europe and the Americas.

The first was Ethiopia’s invasion of the country in 2006 which was used as a rallying point for Al-Shabaab recruitment, especially by its sophisticated propaganda wing which has a significant Internet presence.

The second was the stepping up of drone attacks by the Americans in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which led to the deaths of numerous senior and mid-level Qaeda leaders.

As a result, many of them fled to Somalia and Yemen. The Pentagon claims that the next major attack on America will emanate from either of these two countries.

The immediate victims of the flood of militants to the region, however, are Kenyans, Ugandans and Somalis. The attacks on military trucks in Kenya have been triggered by improvised explosive devices, an instrument widely used by Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The foreigners in Al-Shabaab have also introduced tactics considered taboo and were unheard of previously in Somalia, such as suicide bombings.

The first was carried out in 2006; later in August 2010 they bombed football fans watching the World Cup final in Uganda. A lot of this, Prof Shinn writes, is the work of the foreign core of the Shabaab.

This large foreign influence in the Shabaab illustrates the scale of the challenge regional governments and their Western partners face in tackling the militant group.

As a Somalia government spokesman put it, the members of the Somali diaspora must be counselled to come back to build their fragile state and not to bomb it.

“(Abdisalan’s death) is tragic because we were hoping for this young man to come back and take part in the rebuilding of the country,” said Suldan A. Farahsed. “We needed young people like that.”

Source: www.nation.co.ke

Addis Ababa East African Meeting Focuses on Offensive Against Somali Extremists


East Africa Map

The military campaign against Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab remains on the top of the agenda of the six-nation East African summit to be held in Addis Abba. The regional leaders meeting under the auspices of the Inter Governmental Authority on Development on Friday are slated to discuss ways and devise means to assist Kenya’s offensive against al-Shabab, strengthen the transitional government in Somalia, reinforce the African Union peacekeeping efforts, and seek UN support for stepping up military operations in the country torn by civil wars.

Al-Shabab extremists affiliated to al-Qaida had their strongholds in the famine-affected south and central Somalia. The group controls a large part of Somalia and poses a big challenge to peace and stability in the entire region. The 9,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force, AMISOM, has been in the country since February 2007 and has established effective control over capital Mogadishu. But it needs more reinforcements to expand its peacekeeping role. Kenyan forces have made some headway in their month-long offensive against the Islamic rebels and require outside support and aid to overcome logistical challenges. The transitional government is trying its best to win over clan militias and expand its hold.

The East African leaders know the significance of the present situation to coordinate and make final military push to rout al-Shabab. They need to reinvigorate the Somalia offensive and increase their fighting capability by securing support and military hardware from non-African nations. Monica Juma, Kenya's representative in Ethiopia and the African Union, has made a strong pitch for UN Security Council endorsement to expand AMISOM mandate for successful action against al-Shabab. According to her, the talk to increase the number of troops should also include efforts to procure mission enablers, military hardware, and resources that guarantee sea, air, and land dominance against the extremists.

The UN approval is also essential to cut al-Shabab's supply lines. The Islamist group gets its supplies through Kismayo, a port of strategic significance. The extremists are in complete control of the port, and certain countries have reservations against declaring a blockade on it, an act of war, according to international laws. East African heads of states are expected to up the diplomatic ante to secure UN sanction against al-Shabab in all forms.

Most of the pre-summit discussions are centered on efforts to persuade Ethiopia, the current chair of the IGAD, to join military campaign against al-Shabab. In 2009, the Ethiopian troop withdrawal from Somalia following their portrayal as Christian attackers against Muslim-majority Somalia resulted in local support for the extremists. Their fight against Islamist radical forces was largely successful and many African nations view Ethiopian participation as being vital to ensuring military rout of al-Shabab.

Ethiopia is a prime driver for swift military action to end extremist hold in the neighborhood. There are reports of the Ethiopian army mobilization on the border and their movements several kilometers inside Somalia. However, Ethiopia's foreign ministry has rejected all such rumors and clarified that no decision has yet been taken on its joining the military campaign, and many African diplomats have endorsed it.

Notwithstanding the Ethiopian reluctance to join AMISOM, Kenya, another Christian-majority nation, has already begun military operations against al-Shabab in south Somalia. Kenyan foreign ministry has offered to work under AMISOM and held meetings with AU peacekeeping mission to plan better and coordinated offensive against the extremist strongholds. Jerry Rawlings, the AU special envoy on Somalia, has also appealed for urgent and effective international assistance after his meeting with Kenyan defense minister in Nairobi. Djibouti is expected to send troops in January 2012 for deployment in territories liberated from the extremists.

Source: www.ezega.com

Somalis in Gujarat jails are not pirates, claims envoy

Somali Ambassador Ebyan Mahamed Salah to India believes that the Somalis caught along the Gujarat coast are not pirates. According to her, they are more likely to be fishermen who had lost their way and were found on the Gujarat seas.

Salah added that her government was considering talks with the Indian government for the release of detained men. "They did not possess any weapon or other things that proves them to be pirates," she told TOI, during a conference at the Gujarat National Law University.

"We don't want our nationals to be a burden on any other country. We would prefer to take them back to Somalia," she said.

The conference organized by GNLU, which discussed sea piracy, saw participation from around 35 countries and delegates from international organizations such as European Union (EU), International Maritime Organization (IMO), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), UN CGPS Working Group and United Nations Office on Drugs & Crimes (UNODC).

Two batches of African nationals were caught along the Gujarat coast on June 20 and 27. Of these 32 were Somalis and suspected to be pirates. There are more than 100 Somalis languishing in India, all of them caught by the Indian Navy.

On Saturday, Salah insisted that the Somali government will not only crack down on piracy in different ways but also put into place an anti-piracy law next year. Speaking at a conference she said the Somali government will introduce a "national security and stabilization plan" from January 2012.

Through this plan, Somalia will employ marine police and coast guards to put a check on piracy.

Salah also said her government will be tracking the hawala system of money transfer to understand the roots of operation of the pirates and see if they are channeling ransom money to terror organizations. "The hawala system of money transfer has been a problem in tackling the issue of sea pirates."

When asked about the connection of pirates with Al-Shabab, a militant Islamist group from Somalia, Salah said that it could not be established yet.

She said "The cheapest and best way to stop sea piracy is to stop paying ransom."

While many delegates agreed that the gravity of the issue lies in the absence of international maritime law other delegates also suggested withdrawal of warships deployed to combat piracy in the sea. Director of ICWA Delhi, Vijay Sakhuja said, "Excessive use of force has resulted in escalation of violence. A total of 2 dozen warships are deployed but the threat has not come down. We should adopt anti-piracy measures by deploying coast guards and marine police. Only a couple of warships could be deployed for emergency situations."

Source: The Times of India

Somalia: The Turkish vice prime minister lay foundation of a hospital and new terminal at Mogadishu airport

During his visit, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag lay foundation of a hospital and new terminal at Mogadishu airport to be constructed by Turkey and be in informed on education, health and infrastructure projects in Mogadishu.


Turkish deputy premier arrived in Somali capital of Mogadishu on Saturday.

During his visit, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag will lay foundation of a hospital to be constructed by Turkey and be in informed on education, health and infrastructure projects in Mogadishu.

The Turkish vice prime minister also laid foundation today construction of new terminal at Mogadishu airport. Around $ 150 million will be expended to upgrade Aden Adde international.. project including spacious departure and arrival hall..14 new gates with jetway bridges..upgrading runway and new tower for air traffic control.. New jet fuel depot. New power station in the airport and two new aircraft hangar.

Sources fom Mogadishu

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Communique of the 19th Extra-ordinary Summit

Friday, 25 November 2011


The IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government held its 19th Extra- Ordinary Summit Meeting in Addis Ababa, on 25th November 2011 under the Chairmanship of H.E. Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Chairperson of the IGAD Assembly during which the
Republic of South of Sudan was admitted to the regional bloc.

The Summit discussed the current political and security situation in Somalia and the Summit received a brief from AU on the implementation of the outstanding issues of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Assembly was attended by: H.E. Ismael Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti; H.E. Mwai Kibaki, President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E. Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, H.E. Salaheldien Wanasi, State Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Sudan, H.E. Garang Diing Akuong , Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment of the Republic of South Sudan; Hon. Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Uganda, H.E. Eng. Mahboub Maalim, IGAD Executive Secretary, H.E. Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the AU, H.E Jerry Rowlings, AU High Representative for Somalia, and H.E. Boubacar G. Diarra, Special Representative of
the Chairperson of the AUC for Somalia.

The Summit deliberated on the political, security and humanitarian situation in Somalia, and in particular the Kenya-TFG joint security operations in South and Central Somalia, in pursuit of Al-Shabaab militants and their Al Qaida affiliates.

Full Document (PDF)

EU faces warship shortage for Somali piracy mission

* General blames economic crisis, Libya fatigue

* Mission will go on, military training progressing

By David Brunnstrom

The European Union is short of warships for its counter-piracy mission off Somalia and is unlikely the fill the gap until March given economic constraints, the top EU military officer said on Tuesday.

Swedish General Hakan Syren, chairman of the EU Military Committee, said the shortage would be a "problem", without going into further details.

An EU military official later played down the challenge, saying the shortfall would coincide with a period when pirate attacks normally declined and the bloc would be able to sustain the mission.

Pirates operating from the Somali coast have raked in millions of dollars in ransoms from hijacking ships and a total of 243 hostages and 10 vessels are currently being held, according to figures from EU Navfor, the EU's anti-piracy task force.

A report earlier this year estimated maritime piracy costs the global economy between $7 billion and $12 billion through higher shipping costs and ransom payments.

Syren said the EU operation, codenamed Atalanta, had a normal minimum force requirement of four to six warships, depending on the time of the year, and this would not be met in the period from December until March.

"The ... commander has a minimum level of both maritime patrol aircraft and ships; and during quite a limited time ... the number of ships is below the red line," he told a news conference after a meeting of defence chiefs of the 27 EU states.

"It's a problem. I am telling you the facts and it is really a problem ... and we have faced this before," he said.

Syren blamed the economic crisis, as well as fatigue from NATO's Libya operation, in which European NATO members maintained a seven-month sea mission to enforce a U.N. arms embargo up until the end of October.

"I can imagine there are many different reasons for this, but one is of course economy - the budget cuts," Syren said.

"The last year of course ... many countries with these kinds of assets ... felt insecure about the situation in the Mediterranean Sea connected to the Arabian Spring and the Libyan crisis. But primarily it's a question of resources."

On the plus side, Syren said, an EU training mission intended to help improve security within Somalia was making progress, and was now training a third batch of almost 700 Somali soldiers.

According to Navfor, 165 attempted attacks have taken place this year, with 24 actually resulting in the hijacking of a vessel.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced last month that British merchant ships sailing off the coast of Somalia would be able to carry armed guards to ward off pirate attacks, bringing it into line with many other countries.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Source: Reuters