Google+ Followers

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Suicide bomber kills two near Somali presidential palace

By Abdi Sheikh

A suicide bomber blew himself up near the Somali presidential palace on Tuesday, killing at least two soldiers in a strike apparently aimed at the country's leaders, a palace guard at the scene said.

Officials working in the palace and guards said Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was abroad at the time of the blast and Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid, whose house was near the site of the explosion, was safe.

The blast was the first this year in Mogadishu, where security has improved greatly since Al Shabaab - Islamist rebels allied to al Qaeda - were driven from the capital by African peacekeepers in late 2011.

The group - which wants to impose its strict version of Sharia or Islamic law - is fighting to topple Mohamud, whose election last year was the first such vote since warlords ousted military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

"The man blew up himself near a wall between the Ethiopian embassy and the Somali PM's residence," Ahmed Ali, a Somali soldier at the presidential palace told Reuters.

The two buildings are inside a sprawling compound that also houses the presidential palace.

"One guard died there and then. Another died of his wounds. They were all the guards of the PM," said Ali. "The man was an al Shabaab defector. He had a gate pass, an identity card of the national security."

Guards at the palace who declined to be named said the blast partially damaged a small room made of iron sheets where the prime minister's guards are stationed, but little else was damaged. Buildings and cars within the compound were untouched.


The guards said the bomber was known to them, and frequently visited the palace. When he came by on Tuesday morning, the guards took the suicide bomber through a routine inspection and found he was clad in an explosive jacket.

The guards tried to prevent him from detonating his device, but it went off - killing one instantly and wounding two others.

Al Shabaab was not immediately available for comment on the attack.

The group fled to southern Somalia after quitting Mogadishu but in late September Kenyan troops forced it to withdraw from the port of Kismayu, its last major urban stronghold in the Horn of Africa nation.

That appears to have ended it as a quasi-conventional military force, though Al Shabaab remains a threat and has vowed to step up suicide bombings and hit-and-run attacks.

On January 17 the group said it had executed a captive French agent after a French commando mission to rescue him failed.

(Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Jon Boyle).

Sunday, January 27, 2013

In sign of progress, Somali government arrests 3 over mismanagement of scholarship scheme

(Farah Abdi Warsameh/ Associated Press ) - Somali education minister Maryan Qasim Arif, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at her office in Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday, Jan, 26, 2013. Three officials have been arrested for mismanaging a scholarship scheme that sends Somali students to Turkey, Somalia’s education minister said Saturday, a sign that the fledgling government is committed to fighting the corruption that contributes to the country’s failed-state status. Minister Maryan Qasim Arif said the officials were arrested for offering the scholarships to undeserving students.

Three officials have been arrested for mismanaging a scholarship scheme that sends Somali students to Turkey, Somalia’s education minister said Saturday, a sign that the fledgling government is committed to fighting the corruption that contributes to the country’s failed-state status.

Minister Maryan Qasim Ahmed said the officials were arrested for offering the scholarships to undeserving students. The officials include the ministry’s former director general, who faced widespread accusations that he took bribes, Ahmed said.

“We are aware of the arrest of the ministry’s former director general and two other persons after public complaints about fraud,” Ahmed said.

A probe into the scam is under way, she said.

Ranked as the world’s most corrupt country by Transparency International, Somalia is now recovering from decades of war and strife. Somalia held elections last year following the success of Somali and African forces in ousting Islamist extremists from the capital, Mogadishu, a city that is now coming to life for the first time in 20 years. The city government has repaired potholed streets and installed streetlights, and Western-style restaurants are opening, including near Mogadishu’s beach front, where men and women swim together without fear of punishment from militants.

In a sign of the country’s progress, the United States last week officially recognized Somalia’s government for the first time in two decades. The U.S. hadn’t recognized a Somali government since warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

At his inauguration in September Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud vowed to fight official corruption and to create “an effective justice system” that serves all Somalis.

“I promise (that) my government will deliver a new democratic beginning,” Mohamud said at the time.

The arrest of the education officials suggests that Mohamud’s government will at least try to combat the kind of graft that, along with prolonged war, contributed to Somalia’s reputation as a dysfunctional state.

In a similar case of suspected corruption, Somalia’s chief justice has suspended three appellate court judges for unlawfully releasing a defendant charged with the killing of two foreigners who worked for the aid group Doctors Without Borders.

“They were demoted and suspended because they have released a criminal without due process,” Chief Justice Aideed Ilko Hanaf said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The suspect, Ahmed Salad Hassan, was charged with the murder of Belgian Philippe Havet and Indonesian Andrias Karel Keiluhu inside the aid group’s compound in Mogadishu in December 2011.

Source: The Associated Press

H.S. Class Teaches Somali Children Their Parents’ Language

Reporting Esme Murphy

Minnesota has the largest Somali population in the nation, with an estimated population of 32,000 people. WCCO has told you stories of how some young Somalis have struggled to adjust to life here, while others have even been lured back to Somalia to fight for terrorist groups.

Some young Somalis find they even have a language gap with their own parents who can’t speak English. But one Minneapolis School is trying to change that with a Somali language and culture class.

Some of the students in one South High School classroom were born in the U.S. others came here as young children and have lost their Somali language skills.

“I miscommunicate with my parents sometimes we don’t understand each other,” junior Ayub Mohamed said.

Mohamed came to the U.S. from Somalia when he was 6. Because of the class he can now help translate for family members.

“My little sister, she asks me to translate for her between her and my mom,” he said.

Minneapolis schools have about 2,800 Somali students. South High is the only school that offers a class in Somali.

At first, the teacher wasn’t sure if any kids would show up. There are now 55 kids enrolled in Somali classes at South High.

Teacher Dahir Hassan believes learning the culture and the language will help students embrace both American and Somali traditions.

“It takes hard work to find out that both cultures can belong together they cannot oppose each other,” Hassan said.

And for Ayub he hopes what he learns here will help him to one day go back and help his war torn and famine ravaged homeland.

“Right now, if I go back to Somalia I can’t do anything because I am just a kid,” he said. “But if I stay here, get well-educated and go back to Somalia, I can help and knowing the language would help.”

The program at South High is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Somalia Needs Secure Funds Before Troops Can Leave, UN Says

By William Davison

Somali security forces will not be able to replace African troops until the international community provides “predictable” funding for their training, according to the United Nations.

“The withdrawal, whether it’s Ethiopian or Amisom, is contingent upon adequate replacement by the Somali forces,” Augustine Mahiga, the UN sectrerary-general’s special representative to the Horn of Africa nation, said in an interview in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “The pace at which Somali forces are being trained is not as fast because there hasn’t been predictable funding.”

Over the past 12 months, troops with the African Union Mission in Somalia, or Amisom, and the Ethiopian military have removed al-Shabaab, a militia linked to al-Qaeda, from key areas including the capital, Mogadishu, the port of Kismayu, and Baidoa, the nation’s second-largest city.

Military efforts are now focused on eliminating remaining insurgents and training Somali security forces to maintain law and order, Mahiga said.

Somalia has had no effective central government since rebels overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. That triggered 21 years of civil war where warlords, regional administrations, Islamist militants and pirates fought for dominance. A series of transitional governments failed to quell the disorder. Somali lawmakers in September elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud as president.

Security forces need to be trained and an arms embargo on the government lifted, said Somali Foreign Minister Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan. “As soon as that’s happened then Amisom and Ethiopian troops can leave Somalia,” she said in an interview today at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

The European Union, which pays the salaries of the Amisom troops, is discussing offering “assured funding,” Mahiga said. Turkey and countries from the Persian Gulf may also provide money for “overstretched” Amisom peacekeepers, he said. The mission may become a joint UN and African Union operation once the threat from rebels is eliminated, Mahiga said.

To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa

UN reaffirms support for new Somali govt.

The United Nations and the international community have reaffirmed their support for the new Somali government. 
The UN Special envoy to Somalia Augustine Mahiga announced forging a new partnership strategy that conforms to the priorities of the first post transition government in Somalia.

The UN envoy said the new Somali government has proved to be a representative and democratic one. The United Nations on the other hand promised renewed support for the Horn of Africa nation, affirming tangible change in Somalia that must be supported.

An eight year old UN backed transition period finally cleared the way for the formation of the first elected Somali government in 43 years.

The UN is also confident that the new Somali government meets the aspirations of the people and could pave the way for the reconstrution of the war-torn nation.

On Wednesday, Somali President met with envoys of donor countries in the capital Mogadishu. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud highlighted the importance of a functioning public finance system for the government of Somalia. He also said that one of the government's specific policies is to create an effective financial system. With the creation of a special financial facility (SFF) and public financial management (PFM) structure Somalia will start to move towards recovery.

The President also said that to secure Somalia’s public resources there must be effective, accountable, and transparent financial institutions, and Somalia needs to be supported in the establishment of such institutions.

Somalia has been without a functioning government since 1991 but the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the Somali president in September 2012 has been widely viewed as the first democratic step, prompting many countries to formalize ties with the Horn of Africa Nation.

Hope and lessons in Somalia

Somalia has been the paradigm of failed states since before 1993, when militants shot down two Black Hawk helicopters and killed 18 American soldiers in Mogadishu. One of the world’s poorest, most violent countries, it has been pummeled by warring militias, famine and pirates. But the country recently has shown enough positive movement that the Obama administration last week hosted President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Washington and recognized Somalia’s government for the first time in more than two decades. The evolution is worth examining as the West tries to grapple with militants in Mali.

The election of Mr. Mohamud, a moderate political activist and academic, by Parliament last September ended eight years of corrupt and failed transitional governments. Backed by a new Constitution, he has started building governing institutions with a focus on security, on delivering public services and on judicial and financial reform. Investment from the Somalian diaspora, Turkey and elsewhere is coming back. So are foreign embassies.

None of this would have happened if the security situation had not also improved. Since 2006, the country has been torn by an insurgency led by the militant group Al Shabab, which claims allegiance with Al Qaeda. But since 2011, African Union troops, backed by American drone and aircraft strikes on targeted militant leaders, have pushed Al Shabab out of the capital and other key towns. Washington has poured $650 million into the African Union force over the last six years and spent hundreds of millions more on humanitarian and development assistance for Somalia.

The decision to recognize the Somali government was a reasonable move that will open the door to other American and international aid and may make Mr. Mohamud’s political adversaries think twice about trying to throw him out. But it would be a mistake to read too much into the progress that has been made. The government is weak and doesn’t control much territory beyond the capital. Its army is virtually nonexistent. Al Shabab still lurks as a dark force. If the African Union force, and especially Kenyan and Ugandan troops, left Somalia anytime soon, the gains could all be lost. It remains to be seen whether competing warlords and clans can ever cooperate to build a real state. Mr. Mohamud needs to follow through on a United Nations plan for reconciliation.

It is early to draw firm conclusions, and there are many differences, but Somalia may offer some cautionary advice for the fight now being waged by France at the other end of the African continent against militants in Mali. Degrading militants is likely to take years. Regional forces, rather than foreign forces from farther afield, are best positioned to lead the fight. And political progress is at least as important as military gains.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Twitter suspends Somali militants' account after graphic photos

Twitter suspended the account of Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents Friday, days after they posted photographs of a French commando they killed and threatened to execute Kenyan hostages.

A message from Twitter on the English-language @HSMPress account read that it had "been suspended", without elaborating.

However, Somali and Arabic language accounts of the Shebab continue to operate, and the extremists used their Arabic account to denounce the suspension as censorship.

"This is new evidence of the freedom of expression in the West," the message read.

On Wednesday the Shebab used the account to release a link to a video of several Kenyan hostages they said they will execute within three weeks if Nairobi's government does not release prisoners held on terrorism charges.

Earlier this month they posted graphic photographs of a French soldier killed during a failed bid to release a French agent the Shebab had held for more than three years. They later used Twitter to announce the hostage's execution.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault denounced the publication of the photographs as a "particularly odious display."

Twitter warns that accounts can be suspended if they violate its rules, which include the publishing of "direct, specific threats of violence against others", according to regulations posted on the social media website.

Users are also blocked if they use Twitter "for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities."

Last year the Shebab used the account - which was opened in December 2011, and most recently had over 20,000 followers - for a series of exchanges with Kenya's army spokesman, taunting the Kenyans after they invaded southern Somalia to attack the Islamists.

Shebab fighters are on the back foot in Somalia, reeling from a string of losses as they battle a 17,000-strong African Union force as well as Ethiopian troops and Somali forces.

Isabel Dos Santos: Africa’s First Female Billionaire

By Palash R. Ghosh

Isabel Dos Santos, the richest woman in Africa

Isabel Dos Santos, the eldest daughter of the president of Angola, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, has been anointed as Africa's first woman billionaire, according to a new survey by Forbes magazine in the U.S.

Isabel, only 40, passed the $1-billion threshold after acquiring shares in a number of Portuguese-based public companies, including cable television provider, Zon Multimedia Servicos de Telecomunicacoes e Multimedia SGPS (Lisbon: ZON), and bank, Banco BPI (OTC: BBSPY).

She already owned stakes in at least one Angolan bank, Banco BIC.

With a total 28.8 percent holding in Zon -- valued at some $385 million -- she is the corporation’s largest individual stakeholder. Her 19.5 percent stake in BPI is valued at a cool $465 million.

Moreover, her 25 percent share in Banco BIC is worth at least a $160 million.

In addition, Isabel also sits on the boards of several companies in both Portugal and Angola, including telecom giant Unitel.

Forbes noted that Isabel studied mechanical and electrical engineering in London, before opening a restaurant in the Angolan capital of Luanda in 1997, when she was 24.

Agence France Presse noted that Isabel speaks many languages and is married to Sindika Dokolo, a Congolese art collector.

Isabel’s mother, Tatiana Kukanova, is from Azerbaijan – her parents are separated.

Regarding Isabel’s dramatic acquisition of massive wealth in such a short period of time, Peter Lewis, professor of African Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies, told Forbes: “It’s clear through documented work that the ruling party [of Angola] and the President’s inner circle have a lot of business interests.

The source of funds and corporate governance are very murky. The central problem in Angola is the complete lack of transparency. We can’t trace the provenance of these funds.”

Indeed, Isabel’s father has ruled Angola – which is at peace now for more than a decade following 27 years of a devastating civil war -- since 1979.

Jose Eduardo Dos Santos is Africa's second-longest ruling leader after Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

BBC commented that Jose Eduardo, who was never formally elected president, has a tight grip on Angola’s armed forces, media and judiciary, but keeps a very low profile.

“When you tease out the ownership and controlling interests in Angola it reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of [the President’s] family members and party and military chiefs,” Lewis added.

Meanwhile, Angola is flush with foreign cash that has poured into its various industries, especially the lucrative petroleum sector.

“They are fixing a few roads and there are some railways and there are a lot of cranes in Luanda,” Lewis noted.

“But they are awash in cash; $5 billion has been documented in illicit financial flows.”

Despite Angola’s oil wealth, it remains one of the poorest nations on earth. According to the CIA/World Factbook, more than 40 percent of the population lives in poverty. Most of the country’s citizens live on $2 a day.

Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa

Forbes mention of Isabel was part of a larger collection of Africa’s 40 wealthiest individuals – who have an aggregate worth of some $72.9 billion, up 12 percent over the prior year. Isabel is one of only two women on the super-rich list.

The other woman is Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria, who owns a significant stake in Agbami oil field and has significant interests in fashion and print.

The wealthiest African for the second year in a row is Nigerian cement mogul Aliko Dangote, blessed with a net worth of $12 billion, up from $10.1 billion in November 2011.

Coming in second place, Nicky Oppenheimer, scion of South Africa’s fabulous De Beers diamond fortune, valued at $6.4 billion (although down $100 million from the past year).

Kenya:Boost for miraa traders as UK drug advisers reject ban

A miraa trader in Mutuati market in Igembe North district. PHOTO / FILE

The UK government's official drugs advisory body has rejected calls to ban the herbal stimulant, khat (miraa).

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) said there was "insufficient evidence" that khat caused health problems. 

The stimulant is traditionally used by members of the Somali, Yemeni and Ethiopian communities.
It has been outlawed by the US and Canada and in most European countries, most recently by the Netherlands.
Miraa is one of Kenya’s top fresh produce exports. In the UK, Kenya exports 36 tonnes of khat per week earning Sh2.15 billion annually.
ACMD's decision not to ban khat is good news to Kenyan miraa traders who recently were up in arms over what they termed as government's failure to petition Amsterdam to reverse a ban on trade and use of the narcotic. (READ: Miraa traders accuse State of failure to petition Dutch ban)
The Netherlands was a market priced at Sh1.6 billion annually. The ban, which was first proposed in January last year, became effective on January 5, this year.
Early this month, the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) stopped airlifting khat to Amsterdam, saying it was reacting to a circular from The Hague government to traders in Amsterdam airport last Friday warning against trade in the product.
Somali groups in the UK had told the ACMD that use of khat, which acts as a stimulant when chewed, was a "significant social problem".
Campaigners said it caused medical problems and family breakdowns.
The ACMD also said there was "no evidence" it was directly linked with serious or organised crime.
The council makes recommendations to ministers on the control of drugs, including the classification of substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Somali Basketball team beat Burndi 98-80


The Somali national basketball team on Wednesday beat Burundi 98-80 at the  African Cup of Nations qualifiers in Daresalaam Tanzania  advancing to the next stage. 

The Somali team was leading 50-40 on the first half of the game giving the confidence that the will win the game.

Said Farah Duale, the secretary general of the Somali Basketball Association and the head of the Somali delegation told HOL that they were excited the victory because they beat both Kenya and Burundi.

The Somali National Basketball Team came from Somalia, USA, Canada and Australia.

Minneapolis men face deportation to Somalia they had escaped as children


When Hassan was recently asked to come to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services center in Bloomington, he thought immigration authorities needed the usual updates he had often given since he was freed from prison in 2010.

That didn’t happen, though, when Hassan reached the center on Tuesday morning Oct. 30, 2012. Officials from the local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) greeted and detained him in the same building. They told Hassan he was facing deportation to the strife-torn Somalia he had escaped at age 4.

Hassan spent the night at the center. The next day, he was transferred to the Basile Detention Center in Louisiana.

ICE Spokesman Shawn Neudauer confirmed Hassan’s detention and the wait for removal to Somalia.

“[Hassan] was served a Notice of Revocation of Release,” Neudauer said in an e-mail statement. “On the notice, it was explained that he is being taken back into custody because ICE has determined that there is a significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future. He was aware that ICE intended [to] remove him.”

“There was no chance for us to say our goodbyes,” said his younger brother, Mohamed. “The worst thing, he was not given a choice of where in Somalia he’d like to be deported.”

The violence that 26-year-old Hassan and his family escaped more than two decades ago still persists in the country, Mohamed said. He said the condition in Somalia is even worse right now than it was before.

“We’re concerned about his safety,” Mohamed said. “No one is in Somalia for him — no brother, no sister, no parents. No nothing.”

It’s a normal and legal procedure for the United States to expel immigrants who ware convicted of crimes, even if they’re lawful permanent residents. Some of the reasons for being subject to repatriation include sex and drug offenses, fraud and other white-collar felonies, as well as security and terrorism crimes.

Somalia has had its share of violence, poverty, and famine since the central government was ousted in 1991 by clan militias that later turned on each other. Since 2006, the fierce fighting between al-Shabaab and African Union forces has added to the country’s already flaming turmoil. A new clan-based government was established last August and still remains fragile and under the protection of foreign troops from the neighboring countries.

Hassan has been detained for more than two months now, awaiting expulsion to this chaotic country. No one from the immigration services has notified Hassan or his family about deportation details, including when exactly he will be deported, where in Somalia he will be taken or who will be responsible for his safety when he gets there.

The family members in Minneapolis have these questions roaring in their heads: Will he just be dropped on the streets? Will he be handed to the Somali government? Who will protect him from the people he and his family escaped from?

ICE was asked whether deportees chose the regions to which they prefer to be deported — since each region in Somalia has one major clan that controls the area, it’s significant for a deportee to chose the region run by his or her clan. ICE, however, didn’t answer questions on this concern.

Serving time in prison

Hassan arrived in the United States in 2004 from a refugee camp in Kenya. En route to Alabama, he settled in South Dakota where he found a job at a local store as a packer.

According to his family, in 2005, Hassan was convicted for sleeping with an underage girl when he was a teenager. His five-year term in South Dakota State Penitentiary ended in 2010.

“You could tell he was a changed man,” Mohamed said of his elder brother. “He wanted to find a job. He wanted to go to college. He was working so hard to get his life together. He wanted to become somebody.”

The U.S. government, however, didn’t give Hassan a second chance to become that somebody.

During his final months in Minneapolis, Hassan worked for a local restaurant as a waiter. Because Hassan didn’t get paid much, he frequently applied for other jobs — even though it’s hard for a felon to join in the labor force.

Hassan also used to volunteer at community events, especially the annual summer soccer tournaments, which are held in the Twin Cities by and for the Somali community of North America.

“That was his way to enjoy life after years in prison,” Mohamed said. “We were proud of him for doing that.”

Community reactions

Now, the Twin Cities Somali community circulates rumors of scores of their members who have been deported to Somalia and hundreds who wait their fate at detention centers.

ICE officials have not confirmed the total number of Somalis who have been deported so far or kept in detention.

Many community members have expressed disappointment in the government’s decision to send people back to the dangerous country they’ve escaped.

“The only place that they know is the United States,” said community activist Sadik Warfa of the deportees. “They came here when they were kids. It’s a tragedy that the government is sending them back to Somalia.”

Warfa spoke with profound sadness of Qasim Bashir, a Minneapolis man with the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota at Brian Coyle Center, who was deported to Somalia on November 17, according to the ICE. Warfa described Bashir as a leader and “a decent man who empowered” the community’s young people through basketball training and tournaments.

“He was always trying to bring young people together,” Warfa said. “He was an instrumental in creating a better community.”

Bashi’s repatriation, Warfa said, touched him deeply both on a community and personal level. It’s not fair for someone with dreams and potential to be deported to a lawless country, he added.

Abdisalan Mohamed, who was Bashir’s friend since 2008, said he was shocked by the deportation news of the community members.

“Qasim used to help me fill my tax return forms,” Mohamud said. “He was my [go-to-guy] when I need help with community related things.”

“I’m sure he will be doing great things wherever in the world he is,” Warfa said. “We’ll miss him very much.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Somali basketball Team beat Kenyan Team with 81-78 points

The Somali national basketball team on Tuesday beat Kenya 81-78 at the  Zone 5 of the FIBA Basketball competition of  African Cup of Nations qualifiers in Daresalaam Tanzania.
The game watched by large crowd was exciting and entertaining. Kenya predicted that they win the game but unexpectedly, the Somali team displayed exceptional performance.

The Vice chair of the Somalia Basketball Association Eng Abdulqadir Ali Ghedi who spoke to the Universal TV at the end of the game said that they are very pleased with the victory achieved by the Somali basketball team.

Eng Abdulqadir Ghedi declared that the Somali team  is composed of players coming from US, Canada, Australia and Somalia, and that he believes the quality of the players is responsible for the victory.

Eng Abdulqadir Ghedi appealed to the Somali Diaspora  to support and encourage the Somali sport and players, underscoring that the Somali Sport needs significant support.

Kenya beat Burundi 71-63 in their opening match.

Somali Basketball  is in group with Kenya and Burundi and will play Burundi team tonight.

Source: Hiiraan Online

Somali-Canadian parents propose solutions to violence

cbc masthead logo


Judicial task force part of 5-point plan to deal with dozens of homicides

Members of the Somali-Canadian community rocked by dozens of unsolved slayings in Ontario and Alberta are calling for a federal task force to investigate the homicides and for a strengthening of the witness protection program.

"This is an emergency," said Habiba Adan, whose son Warsame Ali, 26, was gunned down in Toronto last September. She spoke at Queen's Park on Tuesday on behalf of the grassroots Somali group Positive Change, along with Ontario MPP Mike Colle.

Colle, whose Eglinton-Lawrence riding includes a large Somali community, said at least 47 young Somali-Canadian males have been killed in Ontario and Alberta in the last 10 years, with few arrests made.

He presented a five-point action plan on behalf of Positive Change:

  • A federal, judicial task force that would investigate how so many young people could be killed in Canada with no charges or arrests.
  • A provincial-federal employment and opportunity program targeting Somali-Canadians.
  • A push to target Somali-Canadians for employment opportunities with the RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police.
  • School boards, the Ontario Ministry of Education and Somali-Canadians to work together on education issues, including the historically high drop-out rate for Somali-Canadians.
  • A strengthening of the witness protection program to encourage more witnesses to come forward.

Colle said it's important for all levels of government and police to get involved. "The present situation is a total failure," he said.

Colle said he'll be writing a letter to the RCMP, Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Ontario Attorney-General John Gerretsen in hopes of getting the plan started.

Adan said it's important for Canadians to realize that the issue is a Canadian one, not a Somali one. Most of the victims have been Canadian-born, and Adan noted that the killings affect health care, because of injuries and the mental toll it takes on the community.

She said her family has stopped being physically affectionate with one another since her son's death.

"Put yourself in my position, that in my house nobody hugs anymore, nobody kisses anymore," she said.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Khat: a legal high, but should it be banned?

Khat, a stimulant drug, is chewed by around 90,000 people in the east African and Yemeni communities in the UK. But now the Home Office is considering banning the substance. Jamal Osman finds out why.

In an industrial estate in Southall, west London, thousands of boxes full of khat are delivered every week.

The drug begins its journey from the hills of Kenya and arrives in the UK four times a week. It then makes its way to the depot, where dealers buy the herbal high to supply customers across the UK. The fresh leaves are chewed to achieve a state of mild euphoria. It has a stimulant effect similar to that of amphetamines.

Britain is the only country in the west where the product remains legal. The khat business generates over £400m in revenue for the British economy, and the chancellor of the exchequer also picks up a tidy sum in VAT revenue.

Around 90,000 people from the east African and Yemeni communities in the UK use it, especially the Somali community. But a Home Office report, which will be published on Wednesday, is to recommend regulating the product, and a ban is expected to follow later.

Not far from the depot in Southall lies Number 15, the best-known khat house in the country. Traditionally known as marfash, the khat house is open from midday till the early morning hours. Men sit around chewing the green leaf.

A little buzz

Mahdi Jama, a regular chewer in the marfash, cannot understand why anyone would bother people like him as the plant has been used for centuries by his community.

"It's like vegetable but it gives a little bit buzz," he said.

"It's like saying we'll ban alcohol because there are people who are alcoholic."

However, anti-khat campaigners say it "is destroying the whole community", causing health problems, unemployment and family breakdown. In particular, they are concerned about the spread of khat use among the younger generation, where the attitude is: "If it's legal, it must be safe to consume it."

Led by Abukar Awale, a former addict himself, the activists feel they are ever closer to achieving their objectives. It has been a long journey, however, and they have been trying to convince successive governments to listen.

The campaign started seven years ago with weekly visits to local khat houses. Once a week, the activists distribute leaflets with information about the harmful effects of the drug. Most people support them, but occasionally they get into arguments with khat-chewers who do not welcome their message. To reach more people, Abukar Awale started his own television show: Check Before You Chew. It is a phone-in programme where the viewers share their experience of khat use on one of the Somali satellite stations.

They then started attending local government meetings to influence key decision makers. As a result, some local authorities with a sizeable Somali population, such as Hillingdon, called for the regulation of khat to "give local authorities, the police and government agencies greater powers to control its importation, sale and use".

Ban on khat

During the last election, the activists met politicians, offering them community votes. In return, they wanted their support for the ban on khat. Some politicians accepted the offer and supported the mission. Sayeeda Warsi, minister for faith and communities, announced that "a future Conservative government would legislate to make khat a classified drug."

But the activists kept the pressure on the authorities. Playing the discrimination card, they accused the government of not taking the issue seriously since "it was not affecting real Brits".

In 2010, when "meow-meow" - or mephedrone - was banned following the deaths of a number of young people in the UK, the anti-khat campaigners jumped on the bandwagon.

They wanted to exploit the links between khat and mephedrone. Mephedrone is a synthetic substance based on the cathinone compounds found in the khat plant. They argued that since khat is widely available in the UK, people will find ways of producing meow-meow.

Last year, counter-terrorism officers working with their American counterparts arrested seven individuals across the UK. The group – all of them khat traders – were suspected of channelling the proceeds of an alleged smuggling enterprise to al-Qaeda-linked Islamists in Somalia.

And last month, those pushing for a ban organised a demonstration outside Downing Street: pray for a ban. It was about praying to a superior power, God, who could simply tell David Cameron to ban khat. If the report calls for tougher control on khat, the activists will believe their prayers have been partially answered.

But Abukar Awale and his friends will not accept anything other than an all-out ban.

"We will challenge any other decision," he said.

"For the government, it's not about how harmful this product is, it's who is using it - and that is discrimination. Our lawyers have been preparing for this, and we will take legal action within the next three months."

Back in the khat house in Southall, the message from the chewers is defiant. They say they "are just going to carry on chewing what ever happens".

Kenya: Traders cart away capital from Eastleigh

Eastleigh, Nairobi, Kenya
On the brink: The bubble that was Eastleigh is threatening to burst as shoppers and traders flee the area in the wake of mysterious terror attacks.

The picture of Eastleigh is one of total withdrawal and subjugation.

The poor roads that had caved in under the weight of human traffic are empty.

Human traffic within the Eastleigh peri-urban shopping centre has thinned to unimaginable levels like the morning dew that evaporates with the rising sun.

The flow of toxic sludge — evidence of human life and activity — onto the roads is gradually drying up.

The verandas of mega buildings that teemed with hawkers and wares on display have been zone off with mean nylon ropes — as if to keep the ‘bad guys’ away.

The hawkers, whose daily bread singularly hinged on shouting, have since gone mute — vending their wares in silence and only occasionally waving gently at a passing onlooker.

The stalls that housed not just the merchandise but secret safes hoarding millions of shillings are deserted in their dozens.

Public transport is a sorry portrait of a battered sub-sector. PSV conductors — known for the sub-culture of violence and ruthlessness — have been reduced to a tame lot. Seated in their vessels, they count on providence and blank stares to bring passengers their way.

The drivers, openly bored due to an alien culture — one of total order and silence — drift off in thoughts. With vehicle stereos in the mute piling onto their misery, the drivers often doze off as they await a signal from their conductors to step on the pedal.

Shoppers and traders alike talk in low tones — occasionally glancing over their shoulders as they barter their suspicions.

This is the new Eastleigh where fear of the unknown is the new commodity in stock.

The recent wave of terror attacks in the area has sent a chill down the spine of residents and shoppers alike. The security crackdown that followed has only made life harder and business near impossible.

Businesses worth billions of shillings are either closing down in Eastleigh or being relocated
 to other countries.

Business Beat has authoritatively learnt that proprietors are fleeing the region’s business hub to escape a sting of security operations targeting aliens — most of who run a chain of businesses in the area.

Massive withdrawals

Banks that rushed to the area are already feeling the pinch of the fleeing businesspeople.

Our investigations reveal that an estimated Sh10 billion was withdrawn from 12 banks that operate in the area in the past three months alone.

Efforts to get a comment from Barclays Bank Managing Director Adan Mohammed proved futile, as he did not respond to our phone calls.

Paul Sesi, Head of Operations at Chase Bank, which also operates in the area said Chase Bank hadn’t witnessed any panic withdrawals.

“We are yet to see anything untoward,” said Sesi. “We haven’t been affected and are operating normally.”

But even as operators in the areas denied knowledge of anything unseemly, Barclays Bank, which used to operate two branches on a 24-hour basis, has since stopped night operations due to lack of customers.

“Barclays now operates only day time because the night business is dead,” says Hussein Roba, Chairman Eastleigh Residents Community Association (ERCA).

“People no longer sell or buy at night because nobody wants to dare the police to a duel.”

A few months ago, the Government outlawed the alien card — apparently the only identity and security some of the traders held — making their stay in the country untenable.

“The government recently issued a directive that such people should either go back to their countries of origin or refugee camps,” says Eastleigh District Officer Charles Muiruri.

Some of the traders are reportedly fleeing to Somalia, Uganda and Dubai while others are said to be ‘melting’ into within the country — most notably at the Coast.

Analysts say the developments in Eastleigh — previously believed to be nexus of unexplained cash flows from piracy and sneaked goods from Somalia, vindicate a report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) for the quarter ending June 2012. The report showed that unexplained forex flows dropped to the lowest level.

“There is widespread belief that some of the money used to fund the booming property market in Kenya and other businesses is from Somalia,” says Job Kihumba a director at Standard Investment Bank (SIB).

“It is likely that this money found its way to Eastleigh.”

According to the KNBS data, unexplained foreign money in Kenya’s banking system fell to Sh6.5 billion ($76.5 million) mid last year from a high of Sh170 billion ($2 billion) at the beginning of 2011 — the lowest in five years.

Cheap imports

Kenya had also been flooded by billions of shillings worth of goods imported through the Al-Shabaab controlled Somalia coastline — and sold cheaply into the market. However, this has severely been affected by the fall of Kismayu.

Provincial administrators say smugglers have been trying to sneak in goods from Ethiopia through Moyale into the area, but this has proved costly, especially with the influx of cheaper goods from China.

The security operation in Eastleigh started slightly over six months ago, but has intensified in the recent past following a series of blasts in the area.

It is believed the successful excursion of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF’s) in Somalia has helped stem piracy in Indian Ocean and blocked the routes used by smugglers to sneak in goods to the country.

Eastleigh is at a critical crossroads and will likely emerge from the ongoing crisis looking quite different from the one we know today,” says Kihumba.

“Most businesses that operate there will be affected in some way, regardless of how the security operation unfolds.”

The exodus of moneyed immigrants, mostly of Somali origin, has also left property owners in Eastleigh chalking up huge losses in lost rent.

In fact, the provincial administration is now fighting to stem an explosive situation brewing between thousands of vacating tenants who are all demanding back their rent deposits and reluctant property owners, some of who are still repaying the loans they used to build the houses.

“It is true we are swamped by numerous cases between landlords and several tenants who are vacating,” says Muiruri.

Muiruri says the situation is so complex that in some instances, a property owner is swamped by more than 20 tenants all demanding their deposits back because they are relocating.

In a familiar tale of high-living in the boom years, followed by an uncomfortable return to reality, the landlords borrowed heftily from banks to construct houses for the incoming immigrants.

The exodus of the ‘refugees’ has triggered a plunge in the value of the assets the loans were based on — with some borrowers reportedly having trouble making repayments.

The fleeing traders have also left several business premises in prime areas like Garissa Lodge unoccupied.

A survey by Business Beat revealed a number of vacant business premises in Eastleigh’s business hub where 16 tenants vacated a mall referred to as Yaburiani last week.

According to Hussein, Sh500 million used to exchange hands in Eastleigh’s major business hub before the security operation, but things have since changed with estimates showing the figures could have plunged to Sh150 million.

A high-ranking provincial administrator who requested not to be named due to sensitivity of the matter confirmed the figures.

Besides local traders who come from various towns to buy stuff from Garissa Lodge, it has also been a key wholesale market for traders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

These people have started shying away from Eastleigh on growing perceptions of insecurity in Nairobi peri-urban shopping centre and most importantly, because the people they used to buy from are running away.

Incidentally, certain sectors of the Eastleigh economy have received a boost since the sporadic attacks and subsequent security operation with the most notable being security companies and taxi operators.

Providing alternative means of transport for staff unwilling to travel into branches in Eastleigh was the principal cost of the situation for two banks that have branches in the area.

“They have deployed more security personnel at their premises and we now have to pick and drop members of their staff who fear being caught in potentially explosive situations in the area,” says a taxi operator who requested not to be named.

It is booming business for taxi operators and security guards who now have extra duties, but the situation is not enjoyable because we also have to check what is happening behind our backs.”

There are now fears that the relocation of businesses from Eastleigh could have longer-term economic repercussions revenue collections.

The fall in property prices, reduction of business activities and its impact on the retail and hotel industries could also have far reaching ramifications in the country.

Financial institutions that provided loans towards the construction of some of these properties could be facing a potentially crippling situation as they could end up with assets in collaterals whose value is way below the amount given.

 For example unofficial estimates show that Nairobi City Council would collect Sh50 million less in taxes than in the previous fiscal year, with loss of parking fees and other licences from traders responsible for a huge chunk of the loss.

The remainder is a result of the decreases in value of other property in the area and, interestingly, by a reduction in the value of hotels.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

US, Somalia launch new era of diplomatic ties

The United States and Somalia on Thursday launched a new era of diplomatic relations, as Washington recognised the African nation’s government for the first time since 1991.

“Today is a milestone. It is not the end of the journey, but it is an important milestone towards that end,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after talks with new Somali President Hassan Shaikh Mohamud.

“For the first time since 1991, the United States is recognising the government of Somalia,” she said, adding Washington now wanted “an open, transparent dialogue about what more we can do to help the people of Somalia realise their own dream.”

“Somalia is very grateful for the unwavering support from the United States to the people of Somalia,” Mohamud told Clinton, after earlier meeting US President Barack Obama at the White House.

He said his country was “emerging from a very long, difficult period” but now they were moving from a time of “instability, extremism, piracy... to an era of peaceful ... development.”

In recent months, a 17,000-strong African Union force, fighting alongside government troops and Ethiopian soldiers, and backed by US aid, finally wrested a string of key towns from the control of Islamist Al Shabab insurgents.

“Today, thanks to the extraordinary partnership between the leaders and people of Somalia with international supporters, Al Shabab has been driven from Mogadishu and every other major city in Somalia,” Clinton said.

“For the first time in two decades, this country has a representative government with a new president, a new parliament, a new prime minister, and a new constitution.”

She stressed that there was still a lot of work facing the country’s new leaders, “but they have entered into this important mission with a level of commitment that we find admirable.”

A White House statement said that Obama had congratulated the Somali leader on his election when he dropped by a meeting with US Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough and “noted the impressive security and political gains over the past year in Somalia.”

Obama also “acknowledged the many challenges facing Somalia but expressed optimism about Somalia’s future.”

A university lecturer, Mohamud defied predictions to be chosen by lawmakers as Somalia’s new president from among a dozen hopefuls in September elections.

In a sign of the violence still plaguing his country, however, he survived an assassination attempt just days after his inauguration.

“We are working for a Somalia that is at peace with itself and with its neighbors, where its citizens can go about their daily lives in safety,” Mohamud told Clinton.

“Instability, violent extremism, and crime in Somalia are threat not only to Somalia, but to the region, and the world at large. We look to the future with hope, pride, and optimism.”

The US move opens doors to the country, which will also be the focus of a new international conference to be hosted in Britain in May.

A US official, who asked to remain anonymous, had said no official American aid package was unveiled at Thursday’s State Department meeting.

However “the fact that we recognise a government there would allow us to do things through USAID we have not been able to do before,” he said, and would also pave the way for aid from the World Bank and the IMF.

Report studies gap between Somali women and doctors

By Lorna Benson

A new report on Somali women in Minnesota sheds light on the resistance of Somali women to cesarean sections, prenatal care and family planning.

The report by Nancy Deyo, a senior advisor for the Women's Refuge Commission, based in New York, aims to help bridge the cultural gap between Somalis and their western physicians so doctors can understand their patients better and Somali mothers can receive the care they need.

Many of the 32,000 Somalis in Minnesota have lived here for 20 years or more, yet their cultural traditions about pregnancy and birth continue to clash with western medicine.

Giving birth in Somalia is fraught with risk. One out of every 12 women dies due to pregnancy-related causes, giving the country one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. But for Somali women living in Minnesota, childbirth is not as lethal, but it can be a traumatic experience.

"Somali women have a perception that doctors rush to c-sections," Deyo said. "And they frankly don't understand why they're not given more time to have natural births."

While the clash of Somali and western birth cultures is well-known among Minnesota Somalis and their health providers, it has not been well-documented in medical literature.

To illuminate and overcome some of the cultural divisions, in August, Deyo convened focus groups in Minneapolis that were attended by 25 Somali women, a dozen Somali men, Somali religious leaders and a handful of health providers with experience in treating Somali women.

Minnesota-based Somali advocacy group Isuroon sponsored the report. During the focus groups, Somali women repeatedly said cesarean sections are not done in Somalia, Deyo said. In contrast, roughly a third of births in the United States are c-sections. That's a figure that many, even in the U.S. medical profession, believe is too high.

Deyo said most of the Somali mothers told her they want to avoid a c-section at all costs.

"As a result they are reluctant to do post-dates testing at 42 weeks to try to determine if the baby needs to come out or not," she said of the tests that determine the health of the baby late in the mothers' pregnancies.

"That's one of the situations where they want to let Allah decide what's going to happen and they're going to make peace with it."

Fartun Weli, executive director of Isuroon, said one of the other reasons there's so much fear about c-sections in the Somali community is that the procedure is perceived as a western medical tactic to limit population growth.

"When we talked to the men, some of them believe that the reason that [for] their wives, that the c-section is high, is part of controlling," Weli said. "It's like controlling them [from] having a lot of babies."

Weli said large families are considered a blessing in Somalia and too many c-sections may limit the number of children a woman can have. She has heard from Somali women who have driven to Wisconsin to deliver their babies, believing rumors that the c-section rate there is lower than in the Twin Cities.

While the topic of c-sections dominated many of the Somali focus group discussions, the report also identified other pregnancy and birth practices that some Minnesota Somalis don't understand or agree with.

"Somali women very simply prefer female providers, period," Deyo said. "And this is an issue of modesty.

Very simply they do not want to show their private parts to a male provider who is not their husband."

They also don't understand why they need to go to the doctor so often during their pregnancy to get measured and tested – or why there's not more support to help a new mother in her home in the weeks after she gives birth to help her recover and avoid depression, she said.

Dr. Stephanie Walters, medical director of the Health and Wellness Center at Macalester College and an Isuroon board member, said if health providers don't make an effort to address some of these concerns, their patients won't bother getting the care they need.

"They're not going to follow through with a plan that they either don't agree with or don't understand or wasn't sufficiently explained or isn't accessible for them," Walters said.

Despite the many cultural differences between birth in the United States and Somalia, Fartun Weli said her community has adapted somewhat to the western medical model and should be recognized for that.

"There are a lot of rumors out there that the community is very closed and that they don't want to change and all that stuff," Weli said. "But this answers all the questions and says that's not true. Really this community wants to change, and actually change before even the system had adjusted to the demographic changes of our community."

Now that the study has been done, Weli hopes more Minnesota providers will do what they can to adapt to some of the preferences of their Somali patients.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Video: Interview with Somali President Mahamud

Shortly after his government's official recognition by the U.S. government, Hassan Sheikh Mahamud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, came to CSIS to discuss top challenges for his newly formed government. Mahamud was elected president by Somalia’s newly formed parliament in September 2012, becoming the first permanent Somali president since 1991.

Download transcript.pdf

Somalia's president asks Somalis living in Minnesota to help rebuild their war-torn homeland

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud

A day after the U.S. officially recognized Somalia's government for the first time in two decades, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud called on Somalis living in Minnesota to help rebuild their war-torn homeland.

Mohamud spoke to about 4,000 people late Friday night at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Although most of his speech was in Somali, he said in English that it was, "the beginning of a new foundation."

Omar Jamal, first secretary of the Somali Mission to the United Nations, said the president thanked the crowd in Somali and asked that they help rebuild the country with an emphasis on security, the economy and judicial system — either by returning to Somalia or from their homes in Minnesota. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the U.S.

Jamal had travelled with Mohamud to Washington, D.C., where Secretary of State Hilary Clinton joined the Somali president on Thursday to announce the change in diplomatic relations. The U.S. recognition will help Somalia receive greater aid from the U.S. and international agencies.

After Friday's speech, Ilhan Omar said he walked away with the feeling that there was a plan in place to rebuild her homeland.

"I felt like it was the first time in 20 years that we can see a light at the end of the tunnel," said Omar, 30.
Amira Adawe, 34, added that she hopes the U.S. government's recognition of Somalia will open the door to widespread international support. The president's visit solidified her desire to return there and do what she can.
"It's my country," Adawe said. "I can't wait to go back home and help."

On Thursday, Clinton said times have changed in Somalia and cited the militant group al-Shabab's retreat from every major Somali city. The U.S. provided $780 million to African forces to help that effort.

Authorities say more than 20 young Somali men have left Minnesota since 2007 to join al-Shabab, a U.S.-designated terrorist group linked to al-Qaida. A Minneapolis man was convicted in October of helping funnel young men from Minnesota to Somalia to join the group.

Roda Rabi, who helped organize a protest of the president's visit that attracted about 50 people, said many Somalis are unhappy with Mohamud's tenure since he was elected in September. Rabi said that despite his promises, Mohamud has failed to follow the United Nations' plan for Somalia's reconciliation.

Saeed Fahia, executive director of the Confederation of the Somali Community in Minnesota, said it's too early to judge the new president. Too much has happened in the past two decades to be solved in a matter of months, he said.

"It would be difficult for any human being to take on Somalia's problems," he said ahead of the president's speech.

"After 23 years, Somalia is back in the world community," he added. "After all these years of fighting and drought ... we will be able to work toward rebuilding."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Somalia's president in Minneapolis

By Laura Yuen

Somalia's new president on Friday will urge his Somali-born compatriots in Minneapolis to help rebuild their homeland.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's visit comes just a day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the U.S. is formally recognizing the Somali government for the first time in more than two decades.

In Washington, Mohamud met with Clinton, President Barack Obama, and members of Congress, including Keith Ellison. Mohamud is visiting to Minnesota to address the nation's largest Somali diaspora community.

He told the Center for Strategic and International Studies that despite more than 20 years of civil war, his country is safer now. He made a direct appeal to Somali Americans.

"Your technical know-how, your expertise, is what we need in Somalia," Mohamud said. "The dilemma we Somalis, both diaspora and those who are inside Somalia, are facing is that you guys are waiting [for a] stable Somalia so you can go back. And Somalia is waiting for you to stabilize. So, which comes first?"

Mohamud is expected to address a crowd of thousands at 5 p.m. at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

For Somali Women, Childbirth is Very Different in the United States

Hopkins Patch

By James Warden
From prenatal care to postpartum rituals, the western experience can be alienating for Somali immigrants.
One Somali woman described being in labor for three or four days. She eventually went to the hospital. But the doctor told her she needed surgery to deliver the baby, and her family took her home because they didn’t want a C-section. She eventually gave birth to a dead baby.

Another woman described being held for 21 days at the clinic of an Ethiopian refugee camp. Her strength depleted to such an extent that they transferred her to the hospital, where they asked her whether she wanted to save her own life or the life of the child. The woman chose to save the child’s live. But the lights went out just before surgery, and the doctors aborted the baby and took him out of her dead. Of the 13 women and the babies being born there that night, she and one infant were the only ones who survived.

Those are just two of the stories that Nancy Deyo told Wednesday at a conference on Somali women’s health, coordinated by Somali women's health education and advocacy group Isuroon.

Deyo, senior advisor at the Women's Refugee Commission, heard the stories while conducting putting together a report on cultural traditions and the Somali women’s reproductive health.

During her research, she spoke with a total of 50 people—Somali women, Somali men, religious leaders and healthcare providers at three local hospitals and clinics. Many of the interviewees were from Hopkins' Somali community. One group of women had given birth in both the United States and Somalia or refugee camps.

Somali women’s health is a particularly important issue. Back in Somalia, about one in 12 women die in childbirth.

Yet western healthcare can be alienating for many mothers. The report paints a picture of very different expectations for reproductive medicine than those found in western culture. It also recommends ways local providers can adapt their care to Somali culture since giving birth in an unfamiliar western hospital can be frightening to expectant mothers.

“The stories of medicine in the United States can be every bit as scary as the stories of Somalia and the camps are to us all,” Deyo said.

Below are few examples of how Somali healthcare culture differs. See the table below for a full breakdown.

US recognizes Somali government for first time in 2 decades

The U.S. has recognized Somalia's government for the first time in more than two decades.
Calling it a milestone in the country's fight against Islamist extremists, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the announcement Thursday alongside Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

The U.S. hadn't recognized a Somali government since warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. American intervention failed two years later after militants shot down two U.S. helicopters and killed 18 American servicemen.

Clinton said times have changed, citing the militant group al-Shabab's retreat from every major Somali city. The U.S. provided $780 million to African forces to help that effort.

Recognition will help Somalia receive greater assistance from U.S. and international aid agencies.
Clinton also spoke about re-establishing an embassy in Somalia in future.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Obama meets new Somali president

US President Barack Obama met Somalia's new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Thursday, as Washington recognized the African nation's government for the first time since 1991.

Obama dropped by a meeting between Mohamud and US Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough at the White House, before the Somali leader headed across town to see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a White House statement said.

"The president congratulated (Mohamud) on his election last September and the establishment of the first permanent, representative government in Somalia in two decades," the statement said.

"The president noted the impressive security and political gains over the past year in Somalia.

"He acknowledged the many challenges facing Somalia but expressed optimism about Somalia's future," said the statement, accompanied by a photograph of the leaders meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991. But a new administration took office last year, ending eight years of transitional rule by a corruption-riddled government.

The US move turned the page on a dark chapter that in 1993 saw Americans anguished by scenes of US soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by a mob after Somali militants shot down two Black Hawk helicopters. Eighteen Americans died and 80 were wounded.