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Monday, December 31, 2012

Mandera Disease outbreak

By Zahra Rashid
Main symptoms of dengue fever.

Hundreds of people have reportedly been affected by Dengue fever in Mandera County in northern Kenya.

Health officials at Mandera District Hospital are battling to contain the deadly disease that is spreading across the county.  It is said that the dry area which is enabling it to spread to quickly

They confirmed receiving over a hundred patients with symptoms of the Dengue fever.

This is the third time residents in the county are affected by the disease which is transmitted by mosquitoes.

Medics in the area have attributed the spread of the disease of poor sanitation that has led to ideal breeding grounds for the mosquitoes.

Residents have been urged to maintain high hygiene standards, sleep under treated mosquito nets to curb the number of the affected people by the disease.

Another challenge in the town is limited health facilities and lack of proper reporting and identification of the mosquitos borne disease.

Dengue fever which is similar to malaria is said to have symptoms including fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, join and muscle pain, vomiting, mouth bleeding and difficulty in breathing.

The health officials sated that the disease at the moment has no cure, but with proper care and treatment, it is likely to vanish within three weeks.

According to the World Health Organization, over 100M of cases of Dengue infections are reported globally every year with more cases from North East Asia.

Nairobi Kenya

Tour helps ease immigrants' worries about school menus


Members of the Somali Parent Advisory Council toured the St. Paul school district's nutrition center as part of an outreach between the district and various ethnic groups. A tour through the kitchen where school lunches are prepared was part of the agenda. Sharif Mohamed, parent of children attending St. Paul schools, asked questions about bakery machinery. (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE(
Learning how foods are prepared and what goes into them, as well as getting tips on nutrition, was eye-opening for Somalis.

School was out, but for the Somali families touring the St. Paul school's central kitchen on a recent Friday, it was a time to learn -- and to ask important questions.

Mothers went past gleaming kettles and walk-in ovens, and then stopped at a photo display of what looked like pork products, consumption of which is forbidden in the Muslim world.

Questions flew, among them: How could pepperoni be anything but pork? But after being assured that it was chicken or turkey, and that, in fact, St. Paul's menus were entirely pork-free, the women, satisfied, joined a line serving a school lunch for dinner.

Everyday life can get complicated in a district where students speak more than 100 languages and dialects. Lunch preparation can be a source of mystery, too, for new immigrants, and to ease concerns the district has begun hosting kitchen visits for its Somali, Karen, Hmong and Latino parent groups.

St. Paul's nutrition services budget is $24.9 million annually, with $21 million covered through federal reimbursement. Last week, Jean Ronnei, the district's nutrition services director, acknowledged that to cover costs and remain self-sufficient, with no local tax contribution, you need customers -- like any restaurant. But that's not the reason for the outreach efforts, she said.

"We want to make sure our families are happy," Ronnei said.

The Somali night drew 131 adults and children, and came about a month after a Karen tour that was similarly well-received, she said. Said a Karen parent: "Now we know how much effort [the] nutrition center puts into making a good meal for our children. We thank you for taking good care of our children like how we would at home."

Tours also have included tips on diversifying meals at home, something that Somali families need, said Mohamed Hadi, a district Somali cultural specialist. Too many families, he said, subsist on a diet of rice, meat, spaghetti and milk, and miss out on a variety of fruits and vegetables. Positioned behind him as he spoke were large trays of fresh strawberries and carrots.

For the next tour, Hadi said, he hoped to bring in 200 people. According to district data for the 2011-12 school year, about 3 percent of St. Paul's 37,776 students, or about 1,133, speak Somali at home.

Plenty of questions

The children on hand for the most recent tour were invited to climb a platform and look into a 300-gallon kettle used to make taco meat and spaghetti sauce. Later, two boys tried slipping through a door into the walk-in ovens as a girl asked: "Is it cooking?"

The ovens weren't operating, but on the previous day they had baked 27,736 muffins -- or 868 cases worth, a new single-day high.

All of the district's breads and muffins consist of at least 51 percent wheat flour, the visitors were told, and its "breakfast smart cookie" has ingredients that include oatmeal, flax seed and carrots along with the chocolate chips.

After receiving cookie samples, the guests moved on to the display of pork lookalike products, and at the very front, asking questions of nutrition specialist Tessa Acker, was Basro Mohamud, the mother of a Cherokee Heights second-grader.

One day, Mohamud said, her son, Hamza Abdiwhab, 10, told her that he'd been given a ham sandwich at school. He assured her he was careful to remove the ham, but she didn't want him to eat the bread, either. Since then, she has told him: "Just eat the fruit."

Acker explained that what appeared to be ham stacked in a sandwich actually was smoked turkey. But Mohamud pressed on. What about the hot dog casing? she said. Eventually, she was put at ease, and for Hamza, that could be good news.

Asked if her son might now be eating corn dogs, she replied: "Next week."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mo problems! Farah quizzed by customs officials in 'terror bungle' at US airport


Proof: Farah said that he was pulled aside by officials while visiting Portland, Oregon, with his family this Christmas. Farah told how he retrieved his gold medals from his luggage to prove who he was
Olympic hero Mo Farah has revealed how he was quizzed by US border officials on suspicion of being a terrorist.

The double gold medal winner, who was awarded a CBE in the New Year's honours list, said he was hauled before guards while entering the country for a holiday this Christmas.

The 29-year-old runner told The Sun Sunday that border guards questioned him because of his 'Somalia origin'.

The athlete even resorted to showing his Olympic medals in an effort to prove who he was.

On a previous visit to the country, Farah revealed that he was asked to leave before receiving a letter explaining that he was 'under investigation as a terrorist threat'.

Farah moved to the UK with his British-born father aged only eight.

He said that he was taken aside by border guards while visiting Portland, Oregon, with his family on a Christmas break.

The athlete said: 'I couldn't believe it. Because of my Somali origin I get detained every time I come through U.S. Customs.'

Farah said he had to resort to 'getting his medals out' to prove who he was, as he was conveniently carrying them in his luggage.

Farah, whose triumphs in the 5,000 metre and 10,000 metre races provided two of the most exciting moments of London 2012, trains in the US.

After failing to qualify for the 2008 Olympics he moved his wife Tania and daughter Rihanna to Portland to work with legendary coach Alberto Salazar at Nike's headquarters.

But the runner said that he had previously encountered problems with border officials.

Assuming that his sponsors Nike had sorted out his residency visa, Farah 'had to leave' America as he was using a tourist visa.

He said: 'We flew to Toronto to stay for a few days, then come back in.

'But when we were there we got a letter telling us we were under investigation as a terrorist threat and we would have to stay away for another 90 days.'

Distressed because he only had four days' worth of clothes with him, Farah got in touch with Salazar.

Farah claimed that his American coach had a 'friend who works for the FBI' who was a 'massive running fan'. According to the athlete, the contact 'got it sorted'.

The problem Somali’s will never tackle – Tribalism


Somali’s are one of the most homogeneous people in the world, in general and especially in Africa. With great historical background and rich religious heritage, they are one of the rarest kinds in Africa. But with all this there is one setback that has forever been part of their history and upbringing, Tribalism. Somali’s can be seen as pleasant people to foreigners in the United Kingdom for example, but to each other, tribalism comes into play once they come across you for the first time. Instead of greeting you with an ‘’Hello, how are you?’’, it’s a well-known fact that many Somali’s approach one another by asking ‘’Yaad Teheey?’’(What are you? Or what tribe are you?). By this, they will judge you based on your tribe instead of your personality and who you really are.

A British colonial officer by the name of H. B. Kittermaster, who worked in British-Somaliland, wrote the following about the Somalis: “Why do the Somalis occupy today their present position in the scale of civilization and development? This is a question which perhaps demands a passing thought. They are undoubtedly still primitive, having reached only a system of loose tribal organization in which even the tribal elders and herdsmen exercise but small control.” 70 years down the line and Somali’s are still in the same mentality where they prioritise tribes and look at that before they pass on judgement and it’s quite pathetic.

The 4.5 formula is a system whereby Somali’s are divided into four major clans, then the other minor ones are formed together as a half clan. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it’s a well-known fact that a cabinet of over 90 positions had to be formed in order to gratify every clan and sub-clan which is dismal and unacceptable. Even The United Kingdom, a super power in today’s world only has 23 Cabinet ministers, which really does exemplify the way some Africans run their countries and how problematic tribalism is.

The most disturbing reality is that Somali’s have endured the most painful chapter in their history and when you would take all the suffering and onslaught as a raison d’être to get closer together and unite, tribalism is the first thing they turn to and start to prohibit themselves from other tribes, such as Somaliland and Puntland has done, by no means am I criticising the move of the Somalilanders. It is really disappointing when US Library of Congress publication say: “Somali society has retrogressed to a collection of warring clans reminiscent of pre-industrial times.” It’s almost a furtive insult to Somali’s that they haven’t yet evolved and shouldn’t be put in the same bracket as the other ‘developed ‘western countries.

If Somali’s abolished tribalism and come together moreover unite, it’s believed that they could achieve great things, economically furthermore also build a great nation, if not the greatest in Africa. Mr. Kittermaster who said when he was talking about the Somalis and their future: “But these people are by no means unintelligent or decadent. It is probable that they must be regarded as among the most virile and intelligent of any African peoples.”  He then concluded by affirming: “Their intelligence and their keen ability as traders mark them out as capable of development, but there appears to be little hope of a radical change in them unless it is possible to destroy the camel complex.”

The solutions have been addressed many times and have been ignored repulsively, there comes a time when man asks himself, will Somali’s ever tackle this obstacle blocking them of better and thriving days to come? And the question is very hard to answer because you really want Somali’s to progress to a better future but we cannot see that happening in the near future unfortunately. All Somali’s can do now is prevent future Siad Barre’s and Mohammed Farah Aidid’s, these are the very men that led the failure and warfare of Somalia, if there were to be replica’s of them in future, the prospects of Somalia will look revoltingly faint and that’s something no one wants to see.

Allin Nuh

Source: Somali Diaspora News

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

British-Somali man tried in US court over allegations of terrorism


Somali-born Mahdi Hashi (file photo)
Somali-born Mahdi Hashi (file photo)
A Somali-born British man has appeared before a US court over allegations of terrorism in a case that bears the hallmarks of the CIA’s illegal rendition practice.

The 23-year-old Mahdi Hashi, who appeared at the court in New York on Friday, is charged with being involved in alleged terrorist activities.

Hashi was born in Somalia but moved to London with his family when he was five. In summer 2012, he was stripped of his British citizenship on accusation of being involved in "extremist" activities and thereafter went missing on the outskirts of Somali capital city of Mogadishu.

A statement from Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said Hashi was arrested along with two other men in August in Africa.

Hashi was allegedly harassed by security agents in 2009 in order to spy on his Muslim neighbors.

Russia Today quoted Hashi’s father as saying that “All I can say is that Madhi is a Muslim in belief; he is a practicing Muslim... That's all why he is being victimized.”

Meanwhile, solicitor Saghir Hussain who acts for Hashi's family said the case “has all the hallmarks of a rendition whereby somebody is picked up secretly and transferred into secret detention and thereafter transferred to another jurisdiction and here it's the Americans.”
If found guilty, the 23-year-old could face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 30 years, and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.


Film challenges extremism by and against British Muslims

The Guardian home


The opening scene in Combinations, a film designed to challenge viewers' assumptions about Muslims. Photograph: Media Cultured
The call to prayer sounds and a serious-looking man with a bushy beard stares intently at the camera. At first appearance it is a familiar image of an angry Muslim but as the man breaks into laughter and begins to talk about his pride in being British, the viewer's presumptions are challenged.

The clip is a trailer for Combinations, a short film being produced by Media Cultured, a fledgling organisation using film and social media to challenge extremism by and against Muslims. In an age when the Taliban and Somali group al-Shabaab use Twitter, and the anti-Islamic film The Innocence of Muslims on YouTube was disseminated by extremists on both sides to further their own ends, Media Cultured is an attempt to use the same tools to promote harmony rather than discord.

The community interest company in Teesside is the brainchild of director Amjid Khazir, who has been working with local mosques and national faith groups to help the Muslim community understand internet safety and online propaganda. "We are trying to achieve a level of integration and tolerance between communities in an area [social media] that's being ignored by the government," said Khazir. "If you ever wanted to define big society, this is it."

Combinations, made in conjunction with Thousand Yard Films, features Imran Naeem, who runs a boxing gym, is a community volunteer and carried the Olympic torch through Darlington last summer. The title refers to the flurries of punches thrown by boxers as well as Naeem's dual British-Muslim heritage. The trailer has already been shown in one "hard knock" Middlesbrough school, as Khazir describes it, where he says the children's initial perceptions were challenged. He is in discussions to put the film on alongside workshops in other schools, as well as university Islamic societies, mosques and prisons, initially locally and then nationally.

When showing the trailer, which is being developed into a short film, Khazir pauses it at different stages, asking people to write down their thoughts before pressing play and highlighting any mistaken conclusions they may have jumped to.

"As a positive role model for young Muslims he [Naeem] is a fantastically credible, practising [Muslim], guy who's part of the community and who also challenges the xenophobic views and discriminatory views of racists who paint us all as one bloc of evil Mullahs," says Khazir. "He's the antithesis of that. We can achieve the same ends with one piece of work. We can reduce extremism, providing positive role models for Muslims and to non-Muslims we can show the opposite of what the stereotypes portray in the media."

Khazir previously worked in PR and internet search engine optimisation when he noticed how videos of jihadis in Iraq and Afghanistan received large numbers of hits. He said: "Young people especially are often recruited and indoctrinated using videos posted on different social media channels – this can be by simply following a Twitter link."

It was the death of his uncle that persuaded him to focus on his community work full-time. Mohammed Zabir, a taxi driver, died of a heart attack in 2011, a month after being attacked by a drunken passenger.

Khazir said: "He was like a father to me. He lived next door to me, I grew up with him … I gave up the job I was doing and thought: 'I am going to make this work.'"

Khazir set Media Cultured up with a bursary from Teesside University's DigitalCity project, which also provides him with an office and mentoring.

With the longer version of Combinations almost complete, Media Cultured is already planning its next film, Head for Cover, a history of the hijab. "It's not a piece of clothing that's divisive, or causing separation or segregation," says Khazir. "It's actually just a personal freedom, a simple item of clothing which has biblical traditions right from the Jewish matriarchs to Mary."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

ONLF faction in Ethiopia says it wants peace talks

A faction of a separatist rebel group said on Sunday it was seeking peace talks with the Ethiopian government, a development that could help stabilise a region with potential reserves of oil and gas.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has fought since the mid-1980s for independence for the mainly ethnic Somali province of Ogaden in southeast Ethiopia, bordering lawless Somalia.

Abdinur Abdulaye Farah, the group's representative in east Africa, said his faction was in the Ethiopian capital hoping to have talks with the government. There was no immediate comment from the authorities.

The initiative pointed to weakened secessionist activity in Ogaden, where rebels have not mounted a major attack since 2007. Several companies, including Chinese firms, are exploring for oil and gas in the area.

"More and more people want peace. There are very few people supporting the rebels now," Farah told journalists upon arriving at Addis Ababa's airport.


A separate ONLF faction, which claimed to represent 80 percent of the fighters who menaced energy stakes in the Ogaden a few years back, sealed a deal with the Ethiopian government last year.

Farah said negotiations between the remainder of the ONLF and the government, held in Kenya's capital Nairobi two months ago, broke down when the rebels declined to accept the constitution and shun their armed struggle. The talks led to a further split, he said.

Other rival wings within the divided ONLF, including one run by former Somali navy chief Admiral Mohamed Omar Osman, were not immediately available for comment.

The Osman group claimed responsibility for a 2007 attack on an oil exploration field owned by a subsidiary of China's Sinopec Corp that killed 65 Ethiopian soldiers and nine Chinese oil workers, and for many other attacks on military targets over the last few years.

Addis Ababa has acknowledged past skirmishes with the rebels, but claims of battle victories from both sides have been hard to verify. Journalists cannot move in the area without government escorts.

Ethiopian forces waged an offensive against the rebels in late 2007 after the ONLF attack on the Sinopec site. Residents say the rebels have been severely weakened since then, but launch regular hit-and-run attacks including a handful of assassination attempts on regional officials.

The separatist cause originally drew support because of poverty and lack of development. Until a recent upsurge in infrastructure projects, the entire area of 200,000 sq km (77,000 sq miles) had only about 30 km (20 miles) of tarmac road.

(Editing by James Macharia and Mark Trevelyan)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Somali language script

Civil war, famine, corruption, failed state, piracy at sea and Al-Qaeda on land, there is no much left for Somalis to celebrate, except, perhaps, to celebrate for their own mother tongue, the Latin scripted Somali language.

It is one of ancient Cushitic family spoken mostly in the Horn of Africa. But remained unwritten until as recent as 1972 when Somalia has finally managed to have its own written language, thanks to government at the time and more importantly thanks to Shire Jama Ahmed the man who had endured over the years to develop our Latin scripted Somali language.

Following the collapse of the Somali state together with its entire social, cultural, educational and political institutions, and in the inter-clan fighting in most of the country, the only thing left to tie communities, dispersed families by the conflict is their written Somali language.

In refugee camps, in diaspora and in Somalia, from mobile texting to writing books, from Newspaper to TV channels and from website to school text books, from radio broadcast to missing persons’ letters; perhaps it is the written Somali language which had played a vital role in alleviating 20 plus years of the Somali civil war. Yet it is not acknowledged that Somalis have a reason to be proud of and a cause for celebration!

This years’ 40th anniversary would be celebrated, the introduction of the Somali Latin Script in 1972, with the following objectives:-  

1. To acknowledge - prior the introduction of the Latin Script of 1972 - and appreciate the enormous challenges associated with finding suitable characters and structures in the face of a competing forces and countries to influence the outcome in choosing our own language scripted.

2. To educate the general public about the historical evolution of writing Somali language, including how religion was employed to weaken the resolve and determination of Shire Jama Ahmed and others who were advocating for Latin Script and its benefits over other characters including the Arabic alphabet.

3. To celebrate for the immense achievements came with having a written language and to highlight the risk of losing most of t those achievements due to the protracted conflict in Somalia.

Having in mind the above objectives, good preparation were made for collecting valuable documents, images, articles and interviews of personalities with knowledge and background relating to the evolution and development of writing the Somali language, including:-

1. Dr Martin Orwin Head of African Languages Department, Senior Lecturer of Somali and Amharic at SOAS, University of London.

2. Husein Sheikh Kadare (He is the sole surviving person from the people who had language script models)

3. Sharif Saleh Chairman of National Language Commission (1972),

4. Fadumo Ahmed Alim (Ureji) the first Somali female University graduate, former Deputy Minister of Higher Education.

5. Ahmed F. Ali Idaajaa author and leading experts on Somali culture and language,

6. Maryan Farah Gooje former president, Somali Academy of Science, arts and literature.

7. Mohamed Salah, Afgoye District Commissioner during the illiteracy campaign of 1975.

These interviews were carried out in Mogadishu, Nairobi and London during August and September 2012 by Abdullahi Botan Hassan - Soohan Somali Arts Director (Poet for Somalia at this year’s London Cultural Olympiad Festival) in coordination with Kasmo Newspaper, an award winning Somali paper based in London.

This wealth of information, interviews and documents will be presented to the commemorating event on 27
th October 2012 where around a 1000 participants will be attending at the Camden Centre. There would be a material exhibition at Sohan Centre, at 90 Cromer Street.

During the event live tv on various channels will be used to reach vast audience of Somalis across the globe. Artists will perform traditional dances, songs and poems.

Experts on Somali Language and Culture are invited to take part in the commemoration, including:

1. Ahmed Farah Ali (Idaajaa) from Nairobi, Kenya
2. Prof Cabddala Mansur from Roma, Italy 3. Prof.Annarita Puglielli, Head of Somali Studies Centre, University of Roma
4. Dr Georgi kaptchits,  Moscow, Russia
5. Dr Martin Orwin, SOAS – London
6. Prof Abdi Farah Hassan - Netherlands (Former Rector, Somali National University)
In collaboration with the London commemoration organizers, Mogadishu and Nairobi will host larger commemoration and celebration events from 15th November.

Also another event will take place in Birmingham – West Midland England.

Abdulkadir Shire Farah, Kasmo Editor
Coordinator, 40th Anniversary Commemoration.
Tel 020 3556 8723 –Mobile 0795 797 4885


Fifty-five people drowned off Somali coast: UNHCR


Fifty-five people were drowned, or missing and presumed to have drowned, after an overcrowded boat capsized off the Somali coast, the U.N. refugee agency said on Thursday.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement that the accident on Tuesday was the worst such incident in the Gulf of Aden since February 2011 when 57 Somali migrants perished attempting to reach Yemen.

The U.N. agency quoted five of the survivors, all young Somali men, as saying the boat was overcrowded and ran into trouble almost immediately after leaving the port of Bosasso in the northern Somali breakaway region of Puntland.

It capsized just 15 minutes into its journey, spilling all 60 passengers into the sea. Those on board were Ethiopians and Somalis, the UNHCR said.

So far, 23 bodies have been recovered, including those of 14 women, eight men, and a boy said to be less than four years of age. Five of the dead are confirmed to have been Ethiopians. The 32 remaining passengers are presumed to have drowned.

"Without doubt, the Gulf of Aden is now the deadliest route for people fleeing conflict, violence and human rights abuses in the Horn of Africa," said UNHCR Representative for Somalia, Bruno Geddo.

African migrants often use unseaworthy boats to try to reach Yemen, seen as a gateway to wealthier parts of the Middle East and the West. Hundreds of migrants have perished at sea.

The UNHCR estimates that 100,000 people have crossed the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden this year, despite warnings about the risks.

The latest deaths bring the number of those drowned or missing in the waters between Somalia and Yemen this year to 95, the UNHCR said.

(Reporting by James Macharia; Editing by Jon Hemming)

British-Somali man’s family fear US is secretly holding him


Hashi Profile 1
Was Mahdi Hashi abducted? (Photo: Hashi family)

The family of a young Somali-British man who disappeared from Mogadishu believes he is being secretly held by US agencies, his father has told the Bureau.
Mahdi Hashi, 23, was informed in June that he was to lose his British citizenship because he ‘present[ed] a risk to national security’. Weeks later he disappeared from the outskirts of Mogadishu, and his family later heard from someone who had recently been released from prison in Djibouti that Mahdi had been detained alongside him.
His father Mohamed Hashi believes he may have been ‘extraordinarily rendered’, and is now being held at an unknown location by the United States. A press officer at the US State Department told the Bureau that ‘We do not have anything on this to share publicly at this time.’
‘Our fears are whether he’s healthy, his whereabouts, whether we’re going to see him again,’ Mohamed Hashi told the Bureau. ‘We’re worried about the way he’s being treated – maybe he’s being tortured.’
Born in Somalia, Hashi arrived in the UK as a child and grew up in Camden, north London, becoming a British citizen at the age of 14. A devout Muslim, he worked as a carer but claimed he and a group of friends were coming under pressure from the British security services to work for them, and in 2009 the group told the Independent they had come under sustained pressure from MI5 to become informants.
One of them, Nur Mohamed, said an intelligence officer told him: ‘Mohamed if you do not work for us we will tell any foreign country you try to travel to that you are a suspected terrorist.’
Hashi claimed he was repeatedly stopped at borders and that MI5 agents had warned him he would be flagged up as a terrorist and face travel restrictions unless he co-operated.
He returned to Somalia in 2009, where he married and had a son. In June 2012, a letter delivered to Hashi’s family home in London informed him that the home secretary Theresa May had decided to strip him of his British citizenship, claiming he had been ‘involved in Islamist extremism’.
The letter added that he had four weeks to appeal, but he disappeared before he was able to act.
A man later contacted his family in Somalia claiming he had been held alongside Hashi in a Djibouti jail.
Mahdi’s father Mohamed Hashi told the Bureau: ‘He said [Hashi] was fingerprinted and his DNA was taken, and they found out that he was a British citizen and contacted the British consulate – but the British said sorry, we took his citizenship away from him and we can’t help him.’
Campaign group CagePrisoners is concerned that Hashi may have been extraordinarily rendered by the US. Research director Asim Qureshi said: ‘His location and condition of detention are still unknown up to this date and the UK authorities have refused to help on this matter, arguing that he was no longer a British citizens so that Britain has no responsibility over his case.’
The fellow prisoner said they had been held at ‘Nagana prison’. This may refer to Nagad Detention Centre, two formal incarceration facilities in the tiny East African country. It is ‘not part of the prison system’, according to the US State Department, which notes it is mainly used for housing ‘undocumented migrants‘.
But in 2011 a UN report by the High Commissioner for Refugees said Nagad was ‘regularly used for the arbitrary detention of people who are critical of the Government’. And Human Rights Concern Eritrea has claimed Nagad holds over 300 Eritrean military detainees, of whom 58 were said to be in ‘extremely poor health’. A statement published by the group in October claimed: ‘Conditions were so bad that some of the detainees looked barely human’.
Mohamed Hashi said his son’s fellow inmate told the family: ‘The place is bad and there was a bit of mistreatment.’ The man claimed that Hashi was taken by ‘Americans’ before he could be released.
Continuing renditions?

Mahdi Hashi passed through Djibouti on a number of previous occasions when visiting relatives in Somalia. It’s not known whether he made his own way to the small nation on this occasion, or was forcibly abducted and transferred to jail there.
If abducted his case would fit an established pattern of renditions – where individuals are transported between countries for interrogation without judicial process, according to Clara Gutteridge, an expert on rendition and director of the Equal Justice Forum.
‘There have been renditions, disappearances in and out of Somalia since at least 2001, but now, because the Horn of Africa is the new front in the war on terror, it’s becoming an increasing issue. What this young man’s family is saying about his disappearance from Mogadishu is highly plausible in relation to what we are seeing,’ she said.
Gutteridge points out that Djibouti has served as a ‘regional rendition hub’, with individuals captured elsewhere held there – sometimes in the charge of the Djibouti authorities – before being handed to the US and being transferred elsewhere.
Djibouti is also home to Camp Lemonnier, the base for drones flying over both Somalia and Yemen, which also hosts intelligence personnel. The US provides ‘human rights training’ to Djibouti’s prison guards, the State Department notes.
Leaked Guantanamo files released by WikiLeaks that reveal in 2004 Guleed Hassan Ahmed was arrested from his house and held by the Djibouti authorities before being handed to the US and transferred to Guantanamo. And in 2007, Abdullahi Sudi Arale was arrested by Djiboutian authorities at passport controls and held before being transferred to the US-run Camp Lemonnier and then on to Guantanamo Bay.
Last year Yemeni businessman Mohammed Abdullah Saleh al-Asad took Djibouti’s government to court for the part it allegedly played in his abduction and rendition from Tanzania in 2004. His testimony describes in detail how he was held in a Djibouti cell and interrogated at length by an individual who identified herself as American, before being transported to other sites. He claims that from Djibouti, he was taken to four secret prisons around the world over 16 months, and experienced abuses including sleep deprivation, constant blaring music and ‘dietary manipulation’ – being fed dietary supplements in place of food.
Executive order

When he was running for president, Barack Obama was highly critical of President Bush’s counterterrorism policies, pledging to end ‘the practices of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, of detaining thousands without charge or trial, of maintaining a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of law… That will be my position as president. That includes renditions.’
One of his first actions in office was to sign executive orders closing Guantanamo and announcing an end to CIA secret prisons. But crucially this second order excluded ‘facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis’.
In recent years the US has moved towards providing information – and funding – to other countries in order that they can capture and transfer suspects, Gutteridge says. In 2009, Ahmed Abdullahi Hassan was rendered from Kenya to a Somali prison based on information provided by the US, officials told reporter Jeremy Scahill. Although the prison was nominally run by Somalia, the US paid staff salaries and directly interrogated prisoners.
Clara Gutteridge said: ‘Hashi disappeared in Mogadishu and reappeared in Djibouti: unless he went to Djibouti and got arrested, there’s no way that could have happened without rendition. None of what’s happened could be happening without some form of US assistance – it fits with US foreign policy and counterterrorism policy.’
Mohamed Hashi is adamant his son has no links to terrorism – but believes Mahdi’s disappearance is closely related to his losing his citizenship. ‘MI5 and the British government, they know his whereabouts – they want to keep him out of the country,’ he said. ‘They know where he is, but they will not help.’
A Home Office spokeswoman said: ‘We do not comment on security matters.’

Men accused in NY of tie to Somali terror group

Three men who were arrested months ago in Africa have been charged in New York City with training with a terrorist group in Somalia.

The New York Times reports ( ) that Ali Yasin Ahmen, Mahdi Hashi and Mohamed Yusuf appeared in a federal court in Brooklyn Friday to face charges that they trained as suicide bombers with the Islamic militant group Al Shabab.

It wasn't clear why the case is being brought in the United States.

The defendants were arrested while traveling to Yemen. The Times reported that a Swedish interpreter participated in the court hearing.

Prosecutors have released few details about the case. Court documents haven't outlined any particular threat against the U.S.

Source: The Associated Press

Somali farmers hope to improve exports after years of civil war, famine

Somalia, a one time major exporter of fruits to the world markets hopes to revive its export industry.

A banana export company was launched in December in the wartorn capital Mogadishu amid renewed optimism and hope that Somalia’s famous high-quality fruits and especially bananas will return to markets in Persian Gulf States and Europe.

Agricultural experts say that Somalia used about 12,000 hectares of land to produce bananas before the fall of the Siad Bare regime in early 90's. The industry employed roughly 120,000 people, boosting jobs and growth. But currently bananas are only being cultivated in some 3,000 hectares, which mainly provide a year-round local supply.

Banana production in Somalia started in 1927 in the Lower Shabelle region in the south, with more than 32,000 tones exported every year. The River Shebelle is a main source of water irrigation, supplemented by some use of groundwater from boreholes, when river levels are low.

However, exports stopped at the end of 1990. With the start of the civil war in Somalia. Farmers along the banks of the Shabelle River were forced to abandon their lands, which were forcefully taken over by al-Shabab fighters.

But years later, exports resumed and continued until 1997. During that year, bad weather and flooding destroyed most banana plantations once again forcing exports to stop again.

Before 1991, Somalia had a thriving banana industry, which made it the largest exporter in East Africa. Now with the establishment of new export companies, Somalia farmers hope to once again be able to supply world markets with high quality fruits from the horn of African nation.

A devastating famine in south and central Somalia claimed many lives leading to downfall in the production of agricultural products.

Almost a year after the UN declared an end to the famine in Somalia, a large percent of internally displaced people are slowly returning back to their native regions. These farmers say they’re ready to cultivate their lands with and become self-sufficient.

New Minnesotans have entrepreneurial spirit Logo

By Jeff Kiger
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Lee Egerstrom at Rochester's African Development Center.
When it comes to launching new businesses that could stimulate state economy, immigrants or "New Minnesotans" are far more entrepreneurial than their "Old Minnesotan" counterparts.

That's according to a report from Minnesota 2020, a think tank focused on issues like economic development.

That entrepreneurial spirit represents a great opportunity for the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

"It's a multiplier effect," MN 2020's Lee Egerstrom said during an event in Rochester to discuss the group's latest report, called Made in Minnesota 2012: Building Cross-Cultural Commerce.

Standing in Rochester’s African Development Center, he gestured to an illustration showing the merging economic "paths" of new immigrants and those who have lived their whole lives in Minnesota.

"They come together to form something like the mighty Mississippi," he said. "You end up with something greater than before."

While immigrants from all over the world launch their own businesses when they arrive here, Rochester has seen a very strong start-up spirit among its East African immigrants.

About 2,500 immigrants from Somalia are estimated to live in Olmsted County. That means they make up about 1.5 percent of the county's population.

Ayan Abdinur, who leads the African Development Center's office in Rochester, polled that group and found that there are about 80 Somali-owned businesses here.

"New immigrants are very entrepreneurial. It is how many of them provide for their families," Abdinur said.

Mohamud Nur, left, is owner of Hiddo Home Health Care and Mownur Tax Service in Rochester. Ayan Abdinur is emerging markets manager in Rochester's African Development Center of Minnesota.
Mohamud Nur came to Rochester from Somlia in 1999. He started out here working in manufacturing for IBM, but what he really wanted was to have his own business.

After studying at Winona State University, he started Mownur Tax Service in 2007 with just 40 clients from the local East African community. It was a sideline business for Nur, whose day job then was at Charter Communications.

His seasonal tax business has grown every year since he started it. In 2010, Nur opened Hiddo Home Health Care.

Eventually, the two businesses gained enough traction for him to leave Charter and focus full-time on his own ventures.

"Mownur Tax Service now has 300 customers. Going from 40 to 300 in five years is not too bad," he said.

He has four employees working for him at Hiddo and two more working alongside him at the tax service. Both businesses buy equipment, supplies and services from other Rochester operations.

That's exactly the kind of escalating opportunity or "multiplier effect" that Egerstrom points to in the MN 2020 report. Supporting these New Minnesotan businesses and removing barriers that limit them is a great way to boost the state's economy, he said.

Somali pirates release longest-held hostages after 33 months

A ship and its crew of 22 sailors held by Somali pirates for almost three years have been freed after a two-week-long siege by maritime police, the government of the breakaway region of Puntland said on Sunday.

The sailors aboard Panama-flagged MV Iceberg 1, from the Philippines, India, Yemen, Sudan, Ghana and Pakistan, were held for longer than any other hostages in the power of the pirates, who prey on shipping in the region, according to the president's office of the northern Somali enclave in a statement
Maritime police laid siege to the vessel on December 10 near the coastal village of Gara'ad in the region of Mudug.

"After 2 years and 9 months in captivity, the hostages have suffered signs of physical torture and illness. The hostages are now receiving nutrition and medical care," said the statement.

The ship originally had a crew of 24, but two had died since the roll-on roll-off cargo vessel was seized on March 29, 2010, some 10 miles from Aden, pirates said.

One of the pirate leaders said they only released the ship after negotiation with Puntland officials and local elders.

"They kindly requested the release of the ship we held for three years. Puntland forces had attacked us and tried to release the ship by force but they failed. We fought back and defeated them," the pirate known as Farah told Reuters.

Farah did not disclose whether any ransom had been paid for the crew and the ship, owned by Azal Shipping in Dubai with a deadweight of 4,500 tonnes.

Pirates rarely release ships without ransom, and usually raise their demands the longer they hold a vessel, because they charge for their expenses.

International navies have had some recent success containing piracy in the Indian Ocean.

Although more than 100 hostages taken off Somalia are still being held captive, the number of hijackings of ships dropped to seven in the first 11 months of this year compared to 24 in the whole of 2011.

Separately, Puntland said a group of eight Puntland soldiers responsible for briefly trying to sail away with a North Korea-flagged vessel, MV Daesan and its 33-member crew were jailed by a Puntland military court on December 22.

MV Daesan, a North Korean ship ferrying cement to Somali capital Mogadishu, was impounded by the Puntland auhtorities and fined last month by Puntland authorities who accused it of ditching its cargo off Somalia's coast.

The soldiers had taken the vessel on December 18.

"Puntland Government managed to return the vessel back to the port within 24 hours; the soldiers were arrested and will be brought to justice," the authorities said.

Turkey hands over command of Somalia antipiracy force

Counter-piracy international naval force CTF 151
 Turkey has handed over the command of the counter-piracy international naval force CTF 151 to the Pakistani navy, Turkish Naval Forces announced on Dec. 18. Since 2009, Turkey has assumed command of the CTF 151 three times, most recently Sept. 19 to Dec. 13, 2012, the statement by the Naval Forces said.

A handover ceremony was conducted on board a Turkish frigate, TCG Gemlik, which is currently in Bahrain, the statement said. Along the latest period of time under its command and as a result of operations conducted within the area of responsibility, no ship was hijacked, Turkish Naval Forces said, noting that it had been in close cooperation with naval forces elements of  U.S., Australia, India, U.K., Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Romania, Singapore and Yemen during this time.

CTF 151 was established in January 2009 to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean after a wave of hijackings off the coast of Somalia. It was launched by the U.S. as an international effort “specifically for counter-piracy operations.

Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia have dropped sharply this year, but piracy remains a viable “business model,” the outgoing commander of the NATO mission said on Dec. 17.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Year in World Rankings

Morning rush hour in Mumbai's Churchgate railway station on July 11th, 2012. (Vivek Prakash/Reuters)
Freedom in the World: In Freedom House's 2012 report, 26 countries showed "declines" in their level of political freedom while only 12 made "gains." As the report says, "this marks the sixth consecutive year in which countries with declines outnumbered those with improvements." The Middle East saw the biggest strides but also serious regression.

Eurasia declined, and the report sees "danger signs for new democracies," including South Africa and Turkey. Asia, though, experienced a moderate rise in freedom. Overall, there are 87 "free" countries and 60 "partly free" countries, both equal to last year. Forty-eight countries are "not free," an increase of 1 because of South Sudan's independence. Niger, Thailand, and Tunisia joined the ranks of electoral democracies. Nicaragua dropped off.

Transformation: The Bertelsmann Stiftung's Transformation Status Index gauges where developing countries stand "on the path toward democracy under the rule of law and a market economy anchored in principles of social justice." The Czech Republic, Taiwan, Slovenia, Uruguay, and Estonia take this year's top spots; Somalia, Myanmar, Eritrea, North Korea, and Afghanistan are at the bottom. Among the largest developing powers, Brazil finishes 18th, Turkey 20th, India 24th, South Africa 26th, Mexico 35th, Russia 60th, and China 84th.

Economic Freedom: After an optimistic report last year, the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom was more downcast in 2012. The global average score dropped slightly, with 90 countries declining and 75 improving. A major factor in the overall slide is government spending, "which has led to rising levels of public debt and economic stagnation," the index says. Rule of law scores also slipped.

However, of the 75 countries making gains, "73 are considered developing or emerging." Chile finished 7th, regaining the top-ten spot it lost in 2009. Mauritius took 8th, the highest-ever score for sub-Saharan Africa.

Competitiveness: The World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index exhibits some marked regional divides. Asia has a yawning gap between dynamic "regional champions," such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan, and countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal that are "lagging further and further behind."

Chile held steady as Latin America's competitiveness leader and Panama, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru made gains. But Uruguay and Argentina took steep falls and Venezuela a smaller one. In the Middle East, Qatar and the UAE improved their competitiveness; Saudi Arabia and Israel lost ground but remain fairly highly ranked. Jordan achieved strong gains but only to 64th overall, and Egypt plummeted 13 spots to 107th. Finally, Africa continues to trail the rest of the world; its highest-ranked country, South Africa, is only 52nd in the index. Rwanda, Ghana, and Nigeria gained ground while Namibia slid.

Doing Business: This year's World Bank Doing Business rankings, which gauge countries' business climates, look back at the decade since the rankings first appeared. "Eastern Europe and Central Asia improved the most," the report says, now trailing only "OECD high-income economies" in their business friendliness. And of the 50 most improved countries since 2005, "the largest share--a third--are in Sub-Saharan Africa."

However, that region continues to dominate the bottom ranks; 16 of the last 20 countries this year are African. Poland, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Burundi showed the biggest improvements in 2012, while Georgia made its first entry into the top 10.

Corruption Perceptions: The results of Transparency International's well-known index are largely unsurprising. In the Americas (which are ranked together), Canada, Barbados, and the United States are seen as the cleanest countries, with Chile and Uruguay tied for 4th. Haiti and Venezuela are last. New Zealand, Singapore, and Australia are tops in Asia and the Pacific; Bhutan scores a strong 6th. Meanwhile, Afghanistan and North Korea tie for last in the region and, with Somalia, for last overall.  In the Middle East, Qatar and the UAE tie for the highest score, followed by Israel, Bahrain, and Jordan. Iraq, Libya, and Yemen are seen as most corrupt. Finally, Botswana, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Rwanda, and the Seychelles do best in sub-Saharan Africa. Somalia, Sudan, Chad, Burundi, and Zimbabwe finish last.

Prosperity: The Legatum Institute's 2012 Prosperity Index, which measures a range of economic, political, and social indicators, offers some hopeful trends. Prosperity has increased in every region over the past 4 years, it says. Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa have made the biggest gains. Overall, Asia is home to 6 of the top 15 countries in this year's index. Indonesia "has experienced the largest increase in prosperity, globally, since 2009, moving up 26 positions to 63nd." This year, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand lead the index, while the Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Chad, and Haiti come in last. The United States ranks 12th, missing the top 10 for the first time.

Monday, December 17, 2012

In Minnesota, new tactics to help immigrant students

Shanda Groen is an ESL teacher at Willmar's Kennedy Elementary School. In her newcomer class, Groen teaches the basics of reading and writing to students with limited English. (MPR Photo/Tim Post)
Imagine trying to read and solve math problems in a school where you don't speak the language of your teacher and classmates.

That's the challenge facing roughly 65,000 students in Minnesota, or 8 percent of the student population, who are learning English as they go through the school.

Despite some recent improvement in their test scores, English learners, whose numbers are growing, perform far below the state average in reading, math and science. Only slightly more than half graduate from high school in four years. To boost English learners' performance, some Minnesota schools are trying new approaches designed to help them more quickly grasp the language. Among them is Kennedy Elementary in Willmar, Minn., which has a growing number of students from Somalia.

In the school's newcomer class, students are guided through the simplest of English words. On one recent day, four students in grades 2 to 5 sat with their books open while they tried to keep pace with a voice from a nearby CD player on words like "egg."

The intense two-hour daily class is reserved for students who need the most help, English teacher Shawnda Groen said.

"This is their first year in the country," she said. "So when they came in at the start of the year, [they could say] 'Hi', and that's it."

Most of the state's English learners are in Minneapolis and St. Paul. But in recent years the Twin Cities suburbs and communities in rural Minnesota have seen much of the growth in the number of students who are new to the language. The Willmar district in west central Minnesota started its newcomer class a few years ago to handle a booming English learner population. It doubled in the last decade as immigrant families moved to Willmar to work in local processing plants.

Of the district's 4,200 students, more than 800 are considered English learners, and the number is expected to top 1,000 next fall. Many of the students come from homes where the dominant language is Spanish, Somali, Karen or Arabic. Newcomers' classes like the one in Willmar not only teach basic English, but also introduce students to American culture and the culture of school.

Groen said many of the Somali students she teaches came directly from refugee camps and have not had any formal schooling.

But after a few months at Kennedy Elementary, they can read simple sentences such as "The man had a hat."

Students spend one year in the newcomer class, after which their school day will be a mix of regular classes and English-learner classes. English learner programs in Minnesota schools have essentially worked that way for years.

But school officials in Willmar think it's time to find new ways to help English learners perform better in school.

"We have to do better than we're doing," said Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard, who is unhappy with the academic performance of the district's English learners. "We're taking a really hard look at what our current program is and where we want to end up."

The Willmar school district was forced to take a hard look at its English learner program this year after the state Department of Education ranked Kennedy Elementary near the bottom in terms of test scores for English learners. The school is part of a state-monitored improvement program to raise English learners' scores.

Fewer than 1 in 5 English learners at Kennedy are proficient in reading. Although that is nearly double what it was four years ago, it is still 10 percent lower than the statewide average. Kjergaard said he wants nothing less than a completely new program. But he's not quite sure what that will look like.

"The best thing I can say is we're trying," he said.

This week, the district's English learner teachers plan to meet for an intense day of soul searching and data analysis. They hope to identify the root causes for the struggles of their English learners.

The district's director of teaching and learning, Cheryl Nash, said their ultimate goal is a new program that could serve as a model for other schools.

"They can come here and say, 'All right, you figured it out, you made it work. Can we please visit and maybe mimic some of the things that you're doing?'"

One piece of that potential future approach is already in place.

In a tiny office at the end of one of Kennedy Elementary's hallways, just inside the library, Loida Espinoza, the newly hired cultural liaison for Latino families. She began work a few months ago.

"I am the bridge, the communicating bridge between parents and teachers," Espinoza said. "I am the voice for the parents and the teachers at the same time."

Espinoza spends her day fielding calls from the parents of Latino students -- including a large number of students from migrant families who lived in Texas and California -- before, during and after school. She acts as an interpreter during parent-teacher conferences, and if parents can't come to the school, she visits them at home.

"Sometimes it's hard for parents to get here due to lack of transportation," she said. "So if they can't come here, I go to them."

It's all part of an effort to better involve Latino parents in the academic lives of their children.

In past years, some parents may have wanted to talk to their children's teachers, raise concerns or visit the school but did not follow through because they had a hard time finding someone at the school who spoke their language, Espinoza said.

That was the same situation for Somali parents, said Anis Iman, the other newly hired parent liaison at Kennedy Elementary.

"Where before even if they had a question they would stay away, kind of uncomfortable to come to the school or call the school, because they don't speak the language, and they know that when they call there isn't going to be help available right away," Iman said. "That's the biggest difference. Now there's help available any time."

Districts across the state are beginning to explore new ways to involve immigrant parents, who for cultural reasons sometimes take a hands-off approach to education, said Elia Dimayuga-Bruggeman, an assistant commissioner at the state Department of Education.

"My parents were never involved in the schools because within our culture we believe that once our children go to school we give our children to our educators, to our teachers, and now they educate them," said Dimayuga-Bruggeman, who as a child moved to the United States from Mexico with her parents. "Just because I don't go to the school doesn't mean I don't care."

Dimayuga-Bruggeman, a former teacher and school principal, is pushing the state's schools to give immigrant parents a better idea of what goes on in school, and how to navigate the system.

"We have to train our parents who are coming into this country on how much we need to be partners in the child's education," she said.

Education researchers say involving immigrant parents may be key to improving student performance.

"If their parent knows about what is going on in school, they're at home asking their child, 'What happened in school today? Do you have homework?'" said Marina Aleixo, a doctoral student in the second languages program at the University of Minnesota.

"All of these things translate into higher motivation into greater dedication to school," said Aleixo, who has studied parent involvement in schools with high numbers of English learners.

There's also a growing sense among educators that involving immigrant parents in school life shouldn't be about pushing them to attend parent-teacher conferences, PTO meetings or sporting events.

A better idea, they say, is for schools to invite parents into the school for a festival or a meal. That way immigrant parents will be more comfortable in the school, allowing them to learn more about what's expected of their children and how they might help.

Somali militants publicly rebuke American member

 Militants in Somalia are publicly rebuking their best known American fighter.

Al-Shabab posted a statement Monday scolding Omar Shafik Hammami, formerly of Daphne, Alabama.

Hammami, who is also known as Abu Mansur al-Amriki, said publicly earlier this year that he fears members of al-Shabab may kill him over differences of opinion.

The new al-Shabab statement says Hammami's video releases are the result of personal grievances that stem from a "narcissistic pursuit of fame." The statement said al-Shabab has been speaking to Hammami in private but that those efforts have been "fruitless." The statement said al-Shabab was morally obligated to out his "obstinacy."

The statement was posted on a Twitter feed used by a member of al-Shabab.

The FBI placed Hammami on its most wanted terrorist list last month.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Five Ways Camels Are Still Being Used

By Ghazal Tavanaei

A camel is seen in Dubai in March, 2010. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Cartier)
 Camels are best known for being hardworking animals that can survive for long periods without eating or drinking. Their habitat is the desert, and they are found in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Australia. Camels have a long history of benefiting humans, and have been considered of great value to their owners. They have been used for personal transportation and carrying loads, as well as for food and clothing. The following are some of the ways camels are still being used.

Camel Racing

Riders race on camels in Alice Springs, Australia, in July 2007. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Just like horse racing, professional camel racing is an event for attracting tourists and betting. It is popular in many countries, such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia. Camels can reach speeds of up to 40 mph, and are bred with an eye to characteristics that increase speed, such as long legs and small hooves. There are annual races and festivals such as the Camel Cup in Australia, and The Annual Grand Festival of the Genuine Arab Camels in the United Arab Emirates.


An Indian camel herder milks a camel in the village of Solaiya in April 2012. (Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)

Camel’s milk is said to be closer to human milk than that of any other species. Slightly saltier than cow’s milk, it is rich in vitamins B and C and contains 10 times the iron of cow’s milk. Drinking camel’s milk is quite popular in the Arab world, and the milk is also made into products such as cheese and yogurt. In addition to its high mineral and vitamin content, the lactoferrin in milk has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-tumor properties, so it helps fight diseases such as cancer, HIV/Aids, hepatitis C and Alzheimer’s. Camel’s milk is also a popular treatment for diabetes.

Camel Polo

Players prepare to play camel polo in Dubai in November 2008. (Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)

When we hear the word polo, the first thing that comes to mind is horses. But camels are also used to play this game. Camel polo is played in Mongolia, Rajasthan, Dubai, and now for the first time, in Europe. Camel polo follows nearly the same rules as standard polo. It is played with groups of 8 to 60. One of the players sits in front of the hump and controls the camel while the other participant is in back and hits the ball. Camels sometimes spontaneously lie down, or koosh, during the game, and two “lie downs” are permitted per camel.


An Indian camel herder milks a camel in the village of Solaiya in April 2012. (Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)Tourists take a camel ride on the shores of Rancho Punta San Cristobal, Mexico, in June 2012. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Have you ever ridden a camel? If not, it’s definitely worth a try if you get the chance. Tourists enjoy camel rides because it is an experience unique to countries that have camels. In Australia on camel safaris, tourists can get a better appreciation of local wildlife and the unique feeling of journeying by camel. In the United Arab Emirates, there are desert safaris where tourists can experience such things as camel treks, sand skiing, quad biking, and sunset photography.

Camel Meat

A Somali woman inspects camel meat for sale at the town's butcher stand in August 2010. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Like camel’s milk, which is said to be better for you than cow’s milk, the meat is also said to be healthier than beef. It is superior not only to beef, but medical research has shown it to be better than other kinds of meat, too, though aesthetically it is rather rough and tough. The meat contains less fat and more protein than beef, so it reduces the risk of heart disease, and it also has more iron than beef.
Camel meat has been shown to protect against cancerous tumors. It also contains energy needed to restore the body after exhaustion and fatigue, being rich in glycogen—it even tastes sweet. Yet camel meat is low in fat, so it is also recommended for weight loss.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bonn train station bomb scare suspects freed

German police have freed two men who were taken into custody over a suspected attempt to set off a bomb at the main train station in Bonn. Authorities are still looking for a third man.

The Bonn prosecutor's office and the Cologne police department, which is leading the investigation, had confirmed the two arrests on Tuesday evening.

However, they told the DAPD news agency that neither of the men - who were later freed - was an actual suspect in the bombing.

Cologne police, though, have released a computer-generated composite picture of a suspect they are still looking for based on the description of a 14-year-old eyewitness. The picture shows a tall, thin, dark-skinned man between the ages of 30 and 35.

One of the arrested men was thought to have been Omar D., a Somali-born man regarded by police as an Islamist extremist. His lawyer, Mutlu Günal, confirmed the arrest of his client to journalists but did not comment on why he had been taken into custody.

Omar D. is no stranger to the authorities in the Bonn region. His is one of two men who were pulled off a plane at Cologne-Bonn airport in 2008, just minutes before it was to take off on a flight to Amsterdam. Back then, Omar D. and the other man were suspected of planning to travel to Pakistan for training at a camp for Islamist militants. However, both suspects were released two weeks later due to a lack of evidence. The Bonn prosecutor's office closed that investigation in January 2010.

While there is growing speculation that Bonn, the post-war capital of West Germany, may have narrowly avoided a terrorist attack, it remains unclear whether the bomb found on a platform at the city's train station was even fully functional.

After a suspicious package was spotted by a passer-by on Monday afternoon, police cleared the train station and destroyed the package in a controlled explosion. On Tuesday, explosives experts were still examining the evidence. Investigators have said the bag contained "flammable material."

However, the mass-circulation newspaper Bild quoted a security source who said investigators had not yet found a detonator. A Cologne police spokesman declined to confirm this report.

The discovery of the bomb caused major delays in the Bonn region during the evening rush hour. It also disrupted long-distance trains traveling through the region.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Grand Stabilization of South Central Somalia

Somalia has entered a new phase in its modern history. The opportunity now lies in building lasting peace and stability in Somalia into a new era for good relations with its neighbors and the rest of the international community.

Recognizing this, the IGAD Joint Committee has been expanded to include Somalia, in addition to Ethiopia and Kenya. Under the auspices of IGAD chaired by Somalia, the IGAD Joint Committee commits itself to ensure effective and timely coordination and implementation of the grand stabilization plan for south central Somalia, which will include:

To read more click here:   MOU                   [Memorendum of Undertanding] PDF

To read more click here:   Statement             [Statement] PDF

Sunday, December 9, 2012

AU, Somali troops capture Islamist stronghold

We will hunt the invaders from inside and outside Jowhar, Al Shabab says

African Union troops and Somali forces seized the formerly Islamist-held town of Jowhar on Sunday, wresting control of one of the largest remaining towns held by the Al Qaida linked Al Shabab, officials said.

“We took control this morning and are now establishing security in Jowhar,” Colonel Ali Houmed, a spokesman for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), told AFP.

“AMISOM troops alongside Somali National Forces entered the town, there was little fighting as the Al Shabab largely fled ahead of us.”

The loss of Jowhar is a significant blow to the Al Shabab, who have lost a string of towns in recent months to the 17,000-strong AMISOM force, as well as to Ethiopian troops who invaded Somalia last year from the west.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nairobi blast kills three, eight others including MP Yusuf Hassan injures

Eastleigh, Narobi, Kenya
Three people are reported dead, eight others including Kamkunji MP Yusuf Hassan wounded and admitted in hospitals in a blast outside a mosque in Eastleigh, Nairobi on Friday night.
The blast happened about 8pm on Friday night outside a busy mosque along Muratina Road Section I in a busy estate.

The police say the blast seems to have been set on a road side before it went off.

Earlier the witness had seen at least 10 people with multiple injuries being attended to at Afueni Hospital in Buruburu area.

At the time of the blast, reports say Kamkunji MP Yusuf Hassan was within the mosque and it is not clear whether the blast was targeting the MP.

The incident comes after another blast happened on Wednesday in Joska Nairobi’s Eastleigh area where at least seven people were injured.

The seven victims were pedestrians who fell to the blast which went off in Joska area, few meters from where another explosion had occurred in November 16.

One of the Wednesday night victims blast succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment on Thursday while six others were treated and discharged.

Nairobi Area police boss Moses Ombati had said the blast was caused by a bomb.

The blast seemed to have been set off from a distance or one of the victims stepped on it before it went off hitting the pedestrians, police said.

The police boss stated that they were interested to know how and why the three blasts had occurred in the same area in the past.

Earlier on, few meters away from the Wednesday night incident a suspected terrorist had been arrested as after an explosion he had planned to detonate inside a supermarket went off and injured him in November.

Kenya has experienced a series of explosions after troops rolled into Somalia last year to hunt down Al-Shabaab militants who had been blamed for several insecurity incidents.

It is believed the attacks are being committed by remnants of the terror group.

Source: The Standard