Monday, 29 December 2008

Somalia's president quits office

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was appointed president four years ago
Somalia's President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed has told parliament he is resigning.

The news comes a few days after the resignation of the man he had recently appointed as prime minister.
Ex-Prime Minister Mohamed Mahamud Guled quit last week saying his appointment was destabilising the government.
Mr Yusuf, elected four years ago, said he had failed to bring peace. The parliament speaker would take over leadership responsibilities.

'Failed in duty'
He addressed parliamentarians in Baidoa, saying: "As I promised when you elected me on October 14, 2004, I would stand down if I failed to fulfil my duty, I have decided to return the responsibility you gave me."
In his speech, broadcast on national radio, he said: "When I took power I pledged three things.
"If I was unable to fulfil my duty I will resign. Second, I said I will do everything in my power to make government work across the country. That did not happen either.
"Third, I asked the leaders to co-operate with me for the common good of the people. That did not happen," he said, according to Associated Press news agency.
Mr Yusuf had faced criticism for appointing Mr Guled in defiance of Somali MPs, who said the dismissal of his predecessor, Nur Hassan Hussein, two weeks previously, had been illegal.
The president had clashed in recent months with Mr Nur over attempts to negotiate a peace deal with the Islamist-led armed opposition.
Mohamed Mahamud Guled said he had chosen to resign "so that I am not seen as a stumbling block to the peace process which is going well now".
Somalia has been without an effective central government since President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Somali arms ban 'repeatedly broken'

Somalia has been largely lawless since Siad Barre was removed from power in 1991 [File: EPA]

A 16-year embargo on arms shipments to Somalia has been repeatedly violated, according to a United Nations report.
The illegal trafficking of weapons is fuelling the conflict between government forces, Ethiopian troops and armed opposition groups, with supplies financed by Eritrea arriving from Yemen, the UN report published on Friday read.
"Most serviceable weapons and almost all ammunition currently available in the country have been delivered since 1992, in violation of the embargo," the UN group monitoring the embargo said in the report. "Commercial imports, mainly from Yemen, remain the most consistent source of arms, ammunition and military material to Somalia."
Armed opposition groups have retaken control of large areas of the Horn of Africa nation, launching near daily attacks on the transitional government forces and their Ethiopian allies.
The report said breaches in the embargo are being financed from sources "including the government of Eritrea, private donors in the Arab and Islamic world and organised fund-raising activities among Somali diaspora groups".
Ethiopia and Eritrea, which have been accused of fighting a proxy-war in Somalia, have been in dispute over their shared border since a bloody conflict ended in 2000.
Criminal gangsThe report said that criminal gangs, including pirates operating off the coast, were adding to the lawlessness in the country and are "typically self-financing, employing the proceeds from piracy and kidnapping to procure arms, ammunition and equipment".

"Some of these groups now rival or surpass established Somali authorities in terms of their military capabilities and resource bases," it said.Earlier this week, the UN Security Council passed a resolution authorising the use of land operations against Somali pirates, who have captured dozens of ships and held hundreds of crew members for ransom over the past year.The Security Council on Friday voted for the mandate of the monitoring group, which recommends groups and individuals who should be blacklisted for their role in the arms trade, to be extended for another year.
Somalia's transitional government, which is based in the central town of Baidoa because of the security situation in the capital Mogadishu, has effective control over only a small part of the country. Somalia has had no effective government since a coup removed Siad Barre from power in 1991, leading to an almost total breakdown in law and order.

Somali group seeks Sharia expansion

Fighters with Al-Shabab, an armed group that has taken control of the southern city of Kismayu, have told Al Jazeera they plan to impose Islamic law across Somalia.
Kismayu, Somalia's third biggest city, was once one of the most dangerous places in the south of the country.
However, relative calm has been restored to Kismayu after the Al-Shabab Mujahideen Movement and one of its key allies, the Raaskambooni Camp Mujahideen, seized control of the city from local clans three months ago.
Abu Ayman, the leader of the Raaskambooni Camp Mujahideen, told Al Jazeera: "We want to use Kismayu as an example and a model of our rule to the rest of Somalia.
"Our aim is to get residents in faraway towns inviting us to come and govern them according to the way of Allah. The calm in Kismayu has benefited its down-trodden most."
Most of Kismayu’s residents agree with Ayman, saying they are now able to go about normal life without fear of attacks by marauding gangs of armed men who had terrorised them periodically for nearly 18 years.
"I remember times when young boys with knives used to rob us of our daily earnings. Now we can carry lots of money without any fear of being robbed," Mohammed Fundi, a porter and Kismayu resident, said.
Seyyid Ali, also a porter in the city, said: "We used to be sort of enslaved. When we load six lorries, we used to be paid for just one or two. Today we get wages equal to our output. We have justice here."

Peace, at a price
But Mohammed Adow, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Kismayu, said the apparent peace had come at a price.
In depth
“International aid agencies, the lifeline of Somalia’s poor, fled the town because of the fighting.
"They have still not returned as the Islamists have little tolerance for anything - or anyone – foreign," he said.
Adow said that "the suffering is huge as the poor are largely left to fend for themselves".
Kismayu has been left with just one hospital to serve the needs of nearly one million people from the city and surrounding areas.
The hospital used to be run by Medicins Sans Frontieres, who were forced to abandon the centre eight months ago after members of staff were killed.
Now, it is common for just one doctor to be on duty at a time, and medical supplies are dwindling.
Total breakdown
Dr Ali Hassan, who works at the hospital, said: “Our needs are many. Imagine a hospital like this operating without assistance from government or aid agencies. We have a shortage of drugs, equipment and staff are not motivated in any way."
Adow described the people of Kismayu as "numb to the myriad problems surrounding them".
"We used to be sort of enslaved... today we get wages equal to our output. We have justice here"
Seyyid Ali, porter and resident of Kismayu"They [residents] have survived the vagaries of war. They have weathered the almost 20 changes in Kismayu’s administrations over the past 18 years and its people have learned to live with and obey any group that has the upper hand," he said.
Somalia has had no effective government since a coup removed Siad Barre from power in 1991, leading to an almost total breakdown in law and order across most of the country.
The only relative stability experienced by some parts of the country came during the brief six-month rule of the Islamic Courts Union in 2006.
However, they were driven out of the capital Mogadishu, and other areas, by Ethiopian and government troops – sparking an upsurge in fighting.
Ethiopia is due to remove its troops from war-torn Somalia by the end of the year

Somali president 'to resign'

Somalia's newly appointed prime minister resigned earlier in the day to avoid a political standoff [AFP]

Abdullahi Yusuf, the Somali president, is expected to resign in the next few days, his spokesman said.
Hussein Mohamed Mohamud, a spokesman for the president, said on Wednesday: "The president has already written his resignation letter and he is expected to announce it on the coming Saturday."
Mohamud declined to give any further details on why the president would be stepping down, saying it "is not good for me to predict or explain his reasons".
However, Yusuf's office issued a statement to Al Jazeera denying the president intended to resign and that he would continue to lead the country.
The announcement came shortly after Mohamed Mohamud Guled, Somalia's newly appointed prime minister, resigned in an attempt to reconcile warring government factions.
Yusuf appointed Guled on December 16, after firing Nur Hassan Hussein.
"After evaluating the current situation in Somalia, I have decided to resign," Guled told reporters outside his home.
"I stood down so that I am not seen as a stumbling block to the peace process which is going on well now."
The Somali parliament refused to approve the appointment of Guled, and the international community also backed Hussein.
The African Union welcomed the news of Yusuf's expected resignation.
"If his decision is to resign, I would congratulate him," said Nicolas Bwakira, the African Union Commission's Special Representative for Somalia.
"It is, overall, a good move. It will give the opportunity to all parties to form a new leadership," he said. "It will resuscitate the peace process."

Saturday, 20 December 2008

UN chief rules out Somalia force

The time is not right to send United Nations peacekeepers to Somalia, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said.
On Tuesday US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for a UN force to be sent to the conflict-hit nation.
But Mr Ban said the situation in Somalia was too risky and there was no peace to keep.
There was also very limited world support for a multinational stabilisation force, he added, with few countries prepared to take part.
He had contacted 50 nations - but none had agreed to lead such a force and only one or two were willing to send troops, he said.
Somalia has not had an effective national government for 17 years, leading to a collapse of law and order.
Ethiopia-backed government forces have been fighting Islamist insurgents for the last two years, but the Ethiopian troops are due to pull out next month - leaving only the 3,200-strong African Union peacekeeping force behind.

'No peace to keep'
The danger of anarchy in Somalia was "clear and present", Mr Ban said, and action must be taken.
But he said conditions were not in place for sending peacekeepers.
"If there is no peace to keep, peacekeeping operations are not supposed to be there," the UN chief said.
Instead, he said, more efforts were needed on an inter-Somali peace process and to bolster the current African Union force.
His comments came a day after the Security Council unanimously approved a resolution allowing foreign military forces to pursue pirates on land in Somalia.
Pirates there are currently holding more than a dozen hijacked ships, while attacks in seas off Somalia have increased dramatically in recent months.
The resolution gives authority for one year for countries to use "all necessary measures" by land or air to stop anyone using Somali territory for piracy.

Ethiopia reaffirms Somali pullout

Ethiopia has reaffirmed that it will withdraw its forces from Somalia by the end of the month after confusion over its pullout dates.
Reporters in the Somali capital say residents in Mogadishu expected the troops to have gone by Friday, according to a UN-backed peace deal.
But Ethiopia's ambassador to the UK told the BBC the deadline has always been the end of December.
Ethiopia went into Somalia two years ago to help oust Islamist forces.
But different Islamist insurgent groups have been gaining ground in recent months and now control much of southern Somalia once more.
The Ethiopian and interim Somali government troops are limited to parts of Mogadishu and the central town of Baidoa, where parliament is based.
The conducive environment we created has not been properly used both by international community and the Somalis themselves
Berhanu KebedeEthiopian ambassador to the UK
Ethiopia's Somalia dilemma
The BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says people in the capital believe the 120-day deadline for Ethiopia to be out of the country - as stipulated at the signing of the original Djibouti agreement in August - expires on Friday.
However, many issues leading up to the withdrawal have not been completed and have led to confusion over withdrawal dates.
"Our total withdrawal... will be by the end of this month, the prime minister has made it very clear," Berhanu Kebede, the Ethiopian ambassador to the UK, told the BBC Network Africa programme.
Our correspondent says in the past two weeks the Ethiopians have been setting up bases in villages along the tarmac road between the capital and Baidoa - their possible exit road.
A small African Union peacekeeping force has indicated it may leave with the Ethiopians unless it gets reinforcements.
Mr Berhanu said that Ethiopia's presence had given Somalis an opportunity to participate in political dialogue.
"The conducive environment we created has not been properly used both by international community and the Somalis themselves," he said.
About one million people have fled their homes - many after fierce fighting in Mogadishu between Islamists and the Ethiopia-backed government forces.
Some three million people need food aid - about one third of the population.
Somalia has not had a functioning national government since 1991 when warlords overthrew the regime of President Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other

Monday, 15 December 2008

Somaliland: Where is the Outrage?

I posted this article in Taking it Global on my personal blog and I really wanted to share this with you.

Somaliland: Where is the outrage?

After the recent targets in Somaliland by the extremist (Car Blasts), this question of Somaliland recognition kept popping in my head. What makes the international community silent about it?

On May 18th, 2008, Somaliland Republic (former British Somaliland) celebrates 17 years of self-rule and thriving democracy since it has decided to re-instate its sovereign independence from Somalia after the fall of Siad Barre regime in 1991. As a Somalilander myself who run away from Siad Barre's atrocities as a young man in the late 1980s and settled in the United States, I have a mixed feeling as I see my people celebrating the 17th anniversary of Somaliland's birth. On one hand, I am extremely proud of the people of Somaliland, and its leaders for what they were able to achieve for the past 17 years. On the other hand, I am less excited, and amazed by lack of African Union's role in leading the way to promote the Somaliland's cause by sending a strong signal to other African countries that they do care and reward for peace, stability, and democracy (acknowledging people's choice). It is very clear why European Union is very serious about the status of Kosovo. Answer: EU is planning to avoid risk of war and violence that would again destabilize the Balkans region. The million dollar question is why the African Union is not far sighted to avoid a potential and imminent war between Somalia's Southern Leaders, and Somaliland that will undermine the stability of the whole region?

Somali's Southern Leaders are not known to respect the rule of law and the wishes of its citizens, it is the main reason that Somaliland people are fully determined to fight for its sovereign status following its roots of independence time from Great Britain on June 26th, 1960. Thirty one countries that are members of the United Nations recognized Somaliland as an independent state before uniting with the Italian Somaliland on July 1st, 1960 to form what was known as Somali Republic. Somaliland is only seeking recognition within the borders received at that moment. Somaliland, not officially recognized by any state, has been functioning as constitutional democracy with a President directly elected by the people, added by a parliament and local government also directly elected by the people. Somaliland did not even have a university for 31 years of union with the southern Somalia, and today they have four universities despite its lack of recognition. They have four private owned telephone and mobile operators where they did not have any in the past 31 years of union with the South. And the list goes on.
Some people do not truly understand why people of Somaliland decided to go alone, and broke its partnership with the South. Some of the people even speculate that the issue of Somaliland is tied with the stability of the Southern Somalia, and the union will be back when the rest of the South becomes stable. As a matter of fact, there are many reasons why Somaliland re-took its independence, and broke its partnership, but in my personal view, I would only focus on two important reasons:
British Somaliland has voluntarily entered a union with Italian Somaliland in pursuit of irredentist dream of "Greater Somalia" (including parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti). It was very clear to everybody in both regions that it was never intended to stop with the union of the two regions, but to pursue the other 3 remaining regions. Therefore, that dream has effectively died when Djibouti got its independence in 1977, and decided to go alone without joining the existing union. If Djibouti people had that freedom to make that choice, it is only fair that the people of Somaliland can make similar choices to decide on their faith. The main argument here is that the Somali union in 1960 did not achieve the reason it has been formed which was a greater Somalia, and Somaliland's voluntary union at that time was based on that. And if that dream did not materialize, Somaliland could go alone like the other regions did where Somalis live including Djibouti, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
Another very crucial point that made the people of Somaliland go on separate ways from the South is the suffering and injustices that the people of Somaliland endured for 31 years of marriage. They have suffered at the hands of Southern rule governments particularly during Siad Barre's 21-year rule. The whole world knows that those governments even bombarded Somaliland cities. Therefore, it is a trust issue. If you had a business partnership with another person and you have suffered and lost everything, and you re-start your business. Would you again trust to create another partnership with that person? It is fair to say that the people of Somaliland have a trust issue with their brothers in the South, and will not join them again with union despite a lack of recognition by the International community. Most Somalilanders, who only know Somaliland because they were either young or born after Somaliland re-took its independence in 1991, would tell you that if there was such a Southern domination in the past, it is certainly a history, only refers the unity in the past tense.
It is important to note that AU sent a fact finding mission to Somaliland in 2005 in order to respond to the concern that Somaliland recognition would create a fragmentation of Somalia, or other AU member states, the African Union fact finding mission in 2005 concluded "the case should not be linked to the notion of "opening a Pandora box", and the report recommended that AU "should find a special method of dealing with this outstanding case" as soon as possible. Unfortunately, AU actions stopped there. Why we Africans can not decide for ourselves, while Europeans are doing so and EU leading the way. I hope I can one day be proud of our African leaders through the African Union leadership when I see that they are taking a far sighted approach like the EU doing on Kosovo.
The more the African Union delays dealing with the Somaliland case, the more it makes the situation in East Africa difficult, and risk of war, and even equally important the more the AU credibility is on the line. Somaliland case is a time bomb for the African Union and the International community could not really afford to ignore. On the other hand, Somaliland's multi-party democracy system is rarity in Africa, and the Muslim World, and the African Union needs to seriously consider Somaliland's formal application of AU membership to reward for people's choice. Somaliland is a state where the power truly belongs to the people.
But I still ask myself- where is the International Community outrage?

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Life in Somalia's pirate town

By Mary Harper BBC Africa analyst
Whenever word comes out that pirates have taken yet another ship in the Somali region of Puntland, extraordinary things start to happen.

There is a great rush to the port of Eyl, where most of the hijacked vessels are kept by the well-armed pirate gangs.
People put on ties and smart clothes. They arrive in land cruisers with their laptops, one saying he is the pirates' accountant, another that he is their chief negotiator.
With yet more foreign vessels seized off the coast of Somalia this week, it could be said that hijackings in the region have become epidemic.
Insurance premiums for ships sailing through the busy Gulf of Aden have increased tenfold over the past year because of the pirates, most of whom come from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.
In Eyl, there is a lot of money to be made, and everybody is anxious for a cut.

Entire industry
The going rate for ransom payments is between $300,000 and $1.5m (£168,000-£838,000).
A recent visitor to the town explained how, even though the number of pirates who actually take part in a hijacking is relatively small, the whole modern industry of piracy involves many more people.

"The number of people who make the first attack is small, normally from seven to 10," he said.
"They go out in powerful speedboats armed with heavy weapons. But once they seize the ship, about 50 pirates stay on board the vessel. And about 50 more wait on shore in case anything goes wrong."
Given all the other people involved in the piracy industry, including those who feed the hostages, it has become a mainstay of the Puntland economy.
Eyl has become a town tailor-made for pirates - and their hostages.
Special restaurants have even been set up to prepare food for the crews of the hijacked ships.
As the pirates want ransom payments, they try to look after their hostages.
When commandos from France freed two French sailors seized by pirates off the Somali coast in September, President Nicolas Sarkozy said he had given the go-ahead for the operation when it was clear the pirates were headed for Eyl - it would have been too dangerous to try to free them from there.
The town is a safe-haven where very little is done to stop the pirates - leading to the suggestion that some, at least, in the Puntland administration and beyond have links with them.
Many of them come from the same clan - the Majarteen clan of the president of Somalia's transitional federal government, Abdullahi Yusuf.

Money to spend
The coastal region of Puntland is booming.
Fancy houses are being built, expensive cars are being bought - all of this in a country that has not had a functioning central government for nearly 20 years.
Observers say pirates made about $30m from ransom payments last year - far more than the annual budget of Puntland, which is about $20m.

A Canadian navy ship escorted a recent delivery of food aid to Somalia
When the president of Puntland, Adde Musa, was asked about the reported wealth of pirates and their associates, he said: "It's more than true".
Now that they are making so much money, these 21st Century pirates can afford increasingly sophisticated weapons and speedboats.
This means that unless more is done to stop them, they will continue to plunder the busy shipping lanes through the Gulf of Aden.
They even target ships carrying aid to feed their compatriots - up to a third of the population.
Warships from France, Canada and Malaysia, among others, now patrol the Somali coast to try and fend off pirate attacks.
An official at the International Maritime Organisation explained how the well-armed pirates are becoming increasingly bold.
More than 30% of the world's oil is transported through the Gulf of Aden.
"It is only a matter of time before something horrible happens," said the official.
"If the pirates strike a hole in the tanker, and there's an oil spill, there could be a huge environmental disaster".
It is likely that piracy will continue to be a problem off the coast of Somalia as long as the violence and chaos continues on land.
Conflict can be very good for certain types of business, and piracy is certainly one of them.
Weapons are easy to obtain and there is no functioning authority to stop them, either on land or at sea.

Indian navy 'captures 23 pirates'

The Indian navy says it has arrested 23 Somali and Yemeni pirates who tried to storm a ship in the Gulf of Aden.

A navy spokesman said it had responded to a mayday call from MV Gibe, flying under the Ethiopian flag.
Several countries have warships patrolling the gulf amid growing international concern about piracy.
Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said better intelligence was needed for a land attack on pirate bases to be considered.
Mr Gates, speaking at a security conference in Bahrain, also called for shipping companies to do more to protect their vessels travelling through the Arabian Sean and Indian Ocean.

Arms cache
The Indian government said in a statement that the captured pirates had a cache of arms and equipment, including seven AK-47 assault rifles, three machine guns, and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
The pirates would be handed over to the appropriate authorities, the statement added.
Last month, India's navy said it had sunk a pirate "mother vessel" off Somalia.
But it later emerged that the vessel was actually a Thai fishing trawler that had been seized by pirates off Yemen.
Better intelligence
Mr Gates told the security conference: "The need for increased maritime security and potentially new and better means of co-operation has been highlighted by the recent high-profile acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden.

"As with terrorism, piracy is a problem that has serious international implications and should be of particular concern to any nation that depends on the seas for commerce."
Mr Gates said most ships could outrun the pirates and they should take more preventative measures, like pulling up their ladders when at sea and perhaps placing armed guards on board.
When asked by the BBC if the US intended to attack the pirates' land bases, Mr Gates replied that the US and its allies would first need to acquire better intelligence on who is behind the ongoing attacks on shipping.
He said he believed that just two or three Somali clans were responsible and that the individuals involved needed to be targeted accurately to avoid killing innocent civilians.

Somalia's president sacks his PM

Mr Hussein says the president does not have the power to fire him

The Somali President, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, has sacked PM Nur Hassan Hussein and the interim government.
At a news conference in Baidoa, the president said Mr Hussein, who was sworn into office in November 2007, had failed to bring security to Somalia.
The move follows tension between the two in recent months over attempts to deal with the Islamist-led opposition.
However Mr Hussein told AFP news agency that the president alone did not have the power to remove him from office.
Somalia has not had a functioning national government since President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991.
The current transitional government, faced with an insurgency, is dependent on international aid and Ethiopian military support to function.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

AU soldier killed in Somalia

Mogadishu - A soldier serving with African Union forces in Somalia was killed in fighting with Islamist insurgents in the war-torn capital Mogadishu, a military spokesperson said Wednesday.The Burundi soldier died of injuries sustained in the clash late on Tuesday near his contingent's southern Mogadishu base, Burundi army spokesperson Clement Cinen said."The fighting in the former military academy last night, where our forces are based, left one of our soldiers injured but unfortunately he died later in hospital," Cinen said."There were no other casualties in that fighting."Islamist insurgents often target the AU peacekeeping force as well as Ethiopian backed government forces who regained control of much of the country from the militants in early 2007.
Burundi has a total of 1 700 soldiers in Somalia with the 3 400-strong AU force, which is expected to eventually number 8 000.Former African leaders in the AU's Panel of the Wise urged the United Nations to form a stabilisation force for Somalia after Ethiopia announced last week it would withdraw its troops by the end of the year, sparking fears of a security vacuum.
- Sapa-AFP

Mogadishu gets ambulance service

The new fleet of ambulances will be based in the centre of Mogadishu

The conflict-wracked Somali capital of Mogadishu has an ambulance service for the first time in nearly two decades.
Five ambulances with a team of nurses will answer calls from patients to a new 24-hour emergency 777 helpline.
A BBC reporter in the capital says wounded people, many bleeding to death, are usually transported to the city's hospitals on wheelbarrows or taxis.
Somalia has been engulfed by chaos since President Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.
The volatile capital is the scene of frequent battles between Islamist forces and government soldiers, backed by Ethiopian troops who have been in the country for two years.

Top priority
The BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the new fleet of ambulances will be based in the city's main market, the stage for many bloody confrontations.

Under the free service, introduced on Tuesday, casualties with serious and life-threatening conditions will receive top priority.
The scheme was provided with the help of Irish-based charity Lifeline Africa Foundation.
"People have been taken on wheelbarrows to the hospitals so we want to end that," Rufa'i Mohamed Salad, of Lifeline Africa in Mogadishu, said.
A telecommunication firm in Mogadishu, NationLink, installed the new helpline and its operators will divert 777 calls from their control room to new ambulance despatch centres.
The system has been welcomed by residents and medics.
Dr Dahir Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud, the head of Mogadishu's Medina Hospital, said: "I am very happy because it is the first time we've witnessed it. It is a medical step forward."

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Obama is the Change but is he for Somalia?

Unlike his predecessor, President-elect Barack Obama has made it clear that his foreign policy will not be shaped by the “politics of fear,” but by “hope and change.” That, we recognize, is easily said than done. But we also understand that some words are, at times, mightier than the sword.

Take Somalia, for example. On his Website, Obama states that his Administration will develop “a coherent strategy for stabilizing Somalia,” a succinct statement that broadly addresses the incoherent tactics employed by the Bush Administration, often to destabilize Somalia.

Gone, is the “War on Terror” mantra that defined the Bush Administration’s policy toward Somalia. In, is a deliberated and nuanced view of the intricacies of the Somali conflict.

That’s crucial. Without compromising the national security of the United States, the Obama Administration can deploy of the “tough diplomacy” that he often promised during the campaign, to help bring about change in Somalia.

To that end, We offer the following advice for the President-Elect:

-Ask your Africa Team to thoroughly understand the nature of the conflict in Somalia in an encompassing fashion, without isolating a particular group or faction, for that tends to haunt back.
-Immediately end the Ethiopian occupation. This will send a powerful signal to the Somalis, long humiliated by this aggression. It will also undercut the extremists’ sole argument.
-Launch a massive humanitarian effort to rehabilitate the millions of civilians affected by the conflict in and around Mogadishu.
-Declare your support for bringing human rights violators to justice.
-Recognize the role of religious leaders and traditional elders, among others, in the societal stratum of Somalia.
-In your “coherent strategy,” help devise a mechanism for national reconciliation, whilst de-incentivizing the warlord enterprise.

Amid the current financial turmoil, and the inherent nature of unimportance of Somalia for the United States, it maybe tempting to revert back to the old “Containment Policy.”
But we believe that the United States has a moral responsibility to help end Somalia’s saga, in part because the U.S. ignited the most recent conflict when it supported the notorious Mogadishu warlords.
And also in part because the mere election of Barack Obama, a man whose roots hail from nearby Kenya, was largely celebrated in the hopes that he remotely understands the region better, relative to other presidents.
Leaving Somalia to the current status quo may, in the long run, leave the U.S. with limited policy options.

We believe it’s time to act.

Somali Pirates, The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling!!

Pirates of the Somalia coast and their daring hijackings are making news these days. Somali Pirates are most popular Google news item for several days now. AL-JAZEERA, BBC, CNN all showed the latest Aramco Supper taker hijacking in prime time news. All of sudden the world is fixated with this latest wave of hijackings.

As a Somali looking the situation from the sideline, I can only compare this media reaction to a popular children’s tale and movie called Chicken Little. One day Chicken Little raised the alarm: "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" And how did Chicken Little know the sky is falling? "I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my ears, and a bit of it fell on my head," said Chicken Little, after getting hit on the head with an acorn while walking through the forest.

Chicken Little gathered her barnyard friends - the hen, the cock, goose, gander, and duck-all together headed off to find the King and warn him of the approaching danger. Similarly, the media was hit by an acorn (Saudi owned Oil tanker Sirius Star) apparently hauling quarter of Saudi Arabia’s daily output oil and yes the King must be warned. The world leadership must send the navies to protect the ships.

What the news media are not saying is that in Somalia, the acorn has been falling all along, but it never fell on the head of non Somalis before Sirius Star. In fact the acorn started falling back in 1990’s when the Somali government collapsed thanks to IMF and the world looked the other way because it was the interest of Christian Ethiopia who was weak at the time.

The acorn again fell on Somalia when a consensus president Abdiqasim Salad Hassan was chosen in 2001 but Ethiopia and US sabotaged his administration because he was pro Islamist and independent minded.

The acorn fell on Somalia when another president Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed was chosen but the United Nations, European Union or the African Union would not provide the support he needed immediately after his selection because he might become a threat to Christian Ethiopia as he belongs to the old guard who may or may not have nationalist ambitions.

The acorn fell on Somalia when Islamic Courts Union took over most of Somalia, eradicated the piracy the world is concerned about and were on their way of building a sustainable government that could bring normalcy to Somalia. Again, instead of the world supporting them and coming to their aide the United States and Ethiopia sabotaged their efforts by accusing them of being affiliated with terror groups and eventually United States and Britain financed Ethiopia to invade Somalia and illegally occupy a sovereign people. Ethiopian military killed more than 30,000 civilians. Injured more than 300,000 and displaced more than 2 million people and are still on it while committing looting, raping and acts of massacre.

The acorn fell on Somalia when every day around 100 people escaping from Somalia die in their perilous journey to Yemen. What the Indian navy says it sunk could well be poor migrants being illegally shipped in these same waters by these same pirates who also hijack ships on their way back to shore. So, the acorn is falling, as we speak millions of Mogadishu resident are facing indiscriminate Ethiopian shelling and that is the real KAHUNA acorn.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Move to probe Somali atrocities

Islamists again control much of Somalia

Rival Somali politicians have agreed to an international investigation into atrocities committed during the 17-year civil war, a UN envoy has said.
"Time will not erase atrocities," envoy Ahmedou Ould Abdallah told the BBC.
He said peace talks between the government and one Islamist faction, taking place in neighbouring Djibouti, were making progress on sharing power.
Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991 and has been wracked by conflict.
Mr Abdallah said the recent rise in piracy had shown that a solution had to be found to Somalia's problems.
Almost half of Somalia's population - three million people - need food aid, donors say.
Ethiopian pull-out
The peace talks resumed on Monday.
"We will not have peace overnight," Mr Abdallah admitted, but said that many people had been sceptical about bringing justice and reconciliation to other war-torn countries, such as Rwanda and Liberia.
Delegates at the talks have already agreed that Ethiopian troops, who intervened to help government forces oust the Islamists two years ago, should withdraw next month.
Their pull-out was due to start on Friday but there was no visible sign of any movement.
Instead, Islamist fighters staged an attack on an official's residence, leaving at least 15 people dead.
The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution imposing sanctions - an assets freeze and travel ban - on anyone threatening peace in Somalia.
"The prime goal of this is to provide a framework to stem the flow of arms into Somalia, which is causing such mayhem there," said John Sawers, the UN ambassador of the UK, which drafted the resolution.
The resolution also mentions anyone disrupting aid deliveries.
Somalia's President Abdullahi Yusuf last week admitted that Islamists now control most of the southern part of the country.
Samira Hassan

Somalia: Uganda Sends Fresh Troops to Country

(Kampala)24 November 2008Posted to the web 25 November 2008
Chris KiwawuloKampala

UGANDA has replaced its 1,700 troops in Somalia with a new contingent, the third to deploy since the first Ugandan peacekeepers landed there about two years ago.
The first batch of 100 returning soldiers landed at Entebbe airbase at 11:15am aboard a Uganda Air Cargo plane.

The leader of the excited soldiers, Maj. Stephen Lubulwa, kissed the tarmack upon disembarking from the plane.
By press time, 250 soldiers had landed and more were expected.
Welcoming the returnees, defence minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga praised them for their discipline and courage in the effort to restore peace in Somalia.
"Uganda was the first country to respond to the call for keeping peace in Somalia because we want peace on the African continent," he said.
"The UPDF have not done anything wrong in Somalia."
Through the deputy chief of defence forces Lt. Gen. Ivan Koreta, Lubulwa handed over the Ugandan flag to Kiyonga as the UPDF brass band played.
He then handed it to the new contingent head, Col. Jackson Bakasumba.
Kiyonga urged the new contingent to be disciplined. Koreta said Somalia was a hot war, but this would not deter the UPDF from handling its peace duties.
Kiyonga noted that piracy could impact on the situation if the ransom the pirates get is used to finance insurgents.
Somali pirates have been seizing ships off the Somali coast for which they received millions of dollars in ransom.
Maj. Bahoku Barigye, the spokesman of the African Union peace-keepers in Somalia (AMISOM), however, said piracy was a symptom of the bigger problem in the country.
Warrant Officer I Joseph Bikaka, one of the returnees, said businessmen cashing in on the instability were also funding the war.
Bikaka said Somalis liked Ugandan forces, adding that "on a daily basis I would interact with between 10 to 20 of them."
Commenting on the returning soldiers, Lubulwa said the contingent lost three soldiers and 11 were injured during their 11-month-long duty.
However, overall nine Ugandans and one Burundian died, said Bahoku-Barigye.
AMISOM is supposed to replace Ethiopian troops which deployed in 2006 to contain the Islamic Courts which had seized the capital Mogadishu.
Although Ethiopia ejected the Islamists from power, they retreated to outlying towns from where they have waged a viscious guerrilla-like war.
AMISOM needs at least 8,000 troops to handle the volatile situation.
In response, Uganda first sent 1,500 soldiers in March 2007, and another 250 later that year. Burundi sent 1,700 troops this year, making a total of 3,400 troops.
Other African countries that pledged forces, like Nigeria, are yet to do so.
Kiyonga said such countries were willing to send troops to Somalia but were limited by resources.

"If the UN avails resources, other countries will beef us up."

Samira Hassan

Voter Registration Halted After Somaliland Terror Attacks

Officials in Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland have halted an ongoing voter-registration process following terror attacks that killed at least 20 people last week, Radio Garowe reported.
Mohamed Ismail Mohamed, chairman of the Somaliland Election Commission, told a Saturday press conference in the separatist region's capital city Hargeisa that the series of suicide bombings impacted the voter-registration process that was already underway.
"The [Somaliland] Election Commission has postponed the voter-registration process for ten days," Mr. Mohamed said, while praising the successful completion of the process in regions like Awdal, the native region of Somaliland leader Dahir Riyale.
The Election Commission chairman sent condolences to the families of the deceased, while underlining that the terror attacks were "aimed at destroying the stability in Somaliland." Full story
Meanwhile, security forces continue to have a heavy presence on Hargeisa streets with multiple checkpoints and have completely shut down the vital road that drives by the presidential palace, which was one of the suicide bombers' targets.
International organizations, like the EU, pay millions of dollars in grants to the Somaliland government to host democratic elections next year.

Somaliland, in Somalia's northwest, has its own government and has been relatively stable since the mid-1990s. The separatist enclave is scheduled to hold presidential elections in March 2009.

Samira Hassan

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Deadly car bombs hit Somaliland

The attacks were a shock to many in Hargeisa after years of peace Most of the casualties were in the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa

The attacks were a shock to many in Hargeisa after years of peace
At least 29 people have died in a wave of coordinated car-bombings across northern Somalia.
Most of the casualties were in the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa, where the presidential palace, Ethiopian consulate and UN offices were targeted.
Two suicide attackers also killed six intelligence agents in their offices in neighbouring Puntland, the region's president says.
These are the first suicide attacks in the two relatively stable regions.
Somaliland has declared independence from war-torn southern Somalia but this has not been internationally recognised.
The region is a US ally in the fight against Islamist militants in Somalia.

Body parts
Puntland's President Mohamoud Musa Hirsi Adde said that the attacks in both regions were coordinated, reports the AFP news agency.
"The whole plan was organised from the same place and by the same people," he said.
Somaliland President Dahir Riyale Kahin says the government is ready to defend the country.

Somalia's problems are not security but political Seyoum MesfinEthiopian Foreign Minister

Regions and territories: SomalilandThe BBC's Jamal Abdi in Hargeisa says he saw body parts flying through the air after the attack on the Ethiopian consulate.
One of the buildings in the consulate was levelled to the ground and eight people were killed.
Our correspondent says the explosions shook surrounding buildings violently and there was gunfire after the last explosion.
He says the attacks came as a real shock to many people after years of peace.
Guards outside Somaliland's presidential palace opened fire on the attackers blocking them from entering the compound.
One car managed to get into the heavily fortified UNDP office complex before the explosives were detonated.
Eyewitnesses at the UNDP office said the attackers parked the car next to one of the buildings, which suffered the worst damage and heaviest casualties.
There is a lot of anxiety around the city and cars have been blocked from approaching the three locations.
There is no information about who was responsible for the three attacks, which took place within seven minutes of each other.
But some suspect Islamist insurgents, given the coordinated nature of the bombings and the targeting of Ethiopia.

Rare criticism
The al-Shabaab group, which the US describes as a terrorist organisation, refuses to join peace talks until Ethiopian troops agree to leave Somalia.

Most of the casualties were in the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa
Ethiopia helped forces of the interim government oust Islamists from the capital, Mogadishu, in 2006 - since when Islamists have staged regular attacks in the city.
The bombings come as regional leaders meet in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, to discuss the ongoing crisis in Somalia and the performance of the transitional federal government.
On Tuesday, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin made a rare criticism of the Somali government.
"Somalia's problems are not security but political," Mr Seyoum said, blaming disputes between the country's leaders for the prolonged crisis.
The transitional federal charter, which was adopted in 2004, expires next year when a constitution is supposed to be drafted and elections held.

Somaliland witness: 'Terrible day'

Part-time student Isahaq Hashi, 22, tells the BBC News website what he witnessed in the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa, after three car-bombs went off in a wave of coordinated attacks.
I was sitting at my desk in my office when I heard a high sound. I didn't know what it was but all I knew is that my office was shaking.
I had never heard such a thing. I just thought it was something in our work building.
We saw smoke. A lot of smoke and all blowing from the president's palace
Hargeisa resident Isahaq Hashi
Time didn't seem to pass.
Then there was another one but this time it was louder and closer. The first one was quite far away and we didn't know what was going on but when the next one went off, my four colleagues and I left our office. We knew something was not normal.
We saw smoke. A lot of smoke and all blowing from the president's palace.
One of my colleagues, who is much older than the rest of us, said it smelt like a bomb and he was saying that he thought it had been a bomb because he said he knew the sound. He was alive in the days before, when Somaliland was troubled.
Then many, many people were running towards us and past our office.
I didn't follow but I stopped some of them to ask what was happening. Some of them told me they had seen everything and had been standing close to the area and it was too bad. They said they had seen the bombs go off after people attacked the presidential palace using cars as bombs.
I ran to the Hargeisa General Hospital.
There was a mother at the hospital saying: 'My little baby' over and over again.
She had been at home but said a friend had seen her son near the place where the bombings happened. She was told that her son had been one of the victims. She no longer had shoes because she had run so fast to get to the hospital she lost them on the way.
She was crying and crying.
I don't know if she found her son.
The people at the hospital were very sad at what happened and many were crying too.
The ambulance was going back and back and back and back - getting the dead people and the injured.
I am feeling so sad for the people of Hargeisa. It is a terrible day.



Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Somali mortar attack claims lives

Civilians are bearing the brunt of the violence in Somalia, aid groups say [File: AFP]

At least 15 people have been killed in mortar attacks in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, local residents say.
Anti-government fighters fired artillery rounds at the presidential palace from the city's Bakara Market on Monday, prompting guards at the hilltop compund to return fire.
Witnesses said three soldiers were killed at the palace, while a dozen civilians died in the streets below. Abdinasir Said, a Bakara shopkeeper, said he saw six people blown to pieces by a mortar bomb that detonated in the market.
"We have been carrying the injured ones to safety after the shelling stopped," he said. Another man was killed in the market. Nearby, residents said a woman, her three children and a family friend were killed when another mortar bomb crashed onto their home. The barrages are the latest example of violence in Mogadishu that has displaced some 37,000 people in recent weeks, swelling an internal refugee population of 1.1 million, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said on Monday. More than 50 NGOs issued a statement expressing concern about the "devastating humanitarian crisis" and "horrendous" violence in the country. Also on Monday, a roadside bomb hit a UN car in the town of Merka, located in the Lower Shabelle region, killing its Somali driver and wounding an Italian UN employee, a UN security source said.More suffering
Aid workers say the world is shrugging its shoulders at yet more suffering in Somalia, which has been mired in civil conflict since the 1991 fall of a dictator. "Nearly half of Somalia's population, or 3.25 million people, are now in need of emergency aid. This is a 77 per cent increase since the beginning of 2008," the NGOs said. "This number has increased dramatically over the past year due to the destructive combination of extreme insecurity, drought and record-high food prices. The situation is expected to deteriorate further with ordinary Somalis bearing the brunt." UN-led efforts to broker peace have not brought any lessening of violence "that continues to have a horrendous impact on civilians," they said. "In the last few weeks, renewed shelling in Mogadishu has displaced approximately 37,000 civilians from their homes. Over the past nine months, 870,000 have fled for their lives. A total of 1.1 million people are currently displaced in Somalia today."

More vessels seized near Somalia

International warships have been sent to the Gulf of Aden to deal with ship hijackings [Al Jazeera]

In two separate incidents, armed pirates waters operating off the coast of Somalia have seized a vessel and attacked a World Food Programme (WFP)-chartered ship in the Gulf of Aden, officials say.
The vessel is a Greek chemical tanker and has 20 crew members on board, Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) piracy reporting centre, said on Saturday.
"Pirates attacked the ship flying a Panama flag using boats," he said.
Authorities in Athens, however, denied that the ship had any connection with Greece.
Piracy is rife in the busy shipping lanes near to Somalia's coast and along the Gulf of Aden, where dozens of boats have been hijacked this year.
Millions of dollars have been paid to the pirate gangs operating in the area, which is vital to shipping between Europe, Asia and the Middle East, pushing up insurance costs and threatening humanitarian supplies.Pirates were now targeting ships on the eastern side of Somalia after concentrating their attacks in the Gulf of Aden.

Nato operations
The Nato military alliance has agreed to join anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia amid growing calls for action against armed gangs which have attacked scores of vessels this year.
Seven vessels will be sent to the region, where negotiations are currently under way after one gang demanded an $8m ransom for a Ukrainian ship loaded with heavy weaponry.The UN Security Council earlier this week called on countries to send naval vessels and military aircraft to support anti-piracy efforts. The call came after European Union countries said they would launch an anti-piracy patrol, and Russia announced it would co-operate with the West in fighting the pirates.

Fresh warning
Choong of the IMB said the Kuala Lumpur-based body had issued a fresh warning to ships to maintain strict anti-piracy watch since the waters off Somalia were too wide for Western forces to provide security."As long as there is no firm deterrent, pirates will continue to attack ships. But the military cannot be everywhere since this is a wide area," he said.
Somalia's transitional government, which is under pressure from near-daily attacks by armed opposition groups, has given foreign powers the freedom to use force against the pirates.According to the IMB, 69 ships have been attacked off Somalia since January; 27 were hijacked and 11 are still being held for ransom. Pirates are holding more than 200 crew members.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Somalis flee Mogadishu gun battles

Mogadishu residents have been seen fleeing in packed vehicles or on foot

Hundreds of Somalis have fled Mogadishu after several days of heavy fighting between anti-government fighters and Somali troops, supported by the Ethiopian military and African Union peacekeepers.Witnesses said residents could be seen leaving the city aboard packed minibuses and lorries or on foot early on Wednesday
"I believe staying in Mogadishu is ... taking a risk because many civilians died yesterday and warring sides are still sharpening their swords for fresh attacks," Shamso Mohamed Ali, a mother of two, told the AFP news agency.
Fatuma Kassim, a mother-of-seven, said: "We have no hope now and I think this is the end of Mogadishu."Aid agencies say that about one million Somalis live as internal refugees.

Heavy shelling

Residents said that there was heavy shelling overnight as AU forces clashed with armed men opposed to the Somali government, as well as the presence of Ethiopian and AU forces.A group calling itself the Mujahidins of Raskamboni said that attacked one of the peacekeepers' bases sparking the fighting.
"This is the heaviest fighting ever since the AU deployed. I have seen the African Union forces using tanks"
Farah Hassan,Mogadishu residentIt was a retaliatory attack against the African forces and it was the heaviest ever waged against them," Mohamoud Dulyadeyn, a spokesman, said.
He said that his group "operates in Somali territories carrying out attacks against the enemy of Allah".At least seven civilians were killed by artillery fire in two districts of southern Mogadishu, witnesses said."This is the heaviest fighting ever since the AU deployed. I have seen the African Union forces using tanks," Farah Hassan, a Mogadishu resident, said.
"I have seen many civilians crowded in minibuses [leaving the battle zone] and there was no access to hospital for the wounded in the whole neighbourhood."Residents of the Taleh district told AFP that the shelling shattered many residential houses and set fire to a number of businesses.
Hostages removed
In another development, Ethiopian fficials and the Paris-based Medecins du Monde said on Tuesday that two foreign aid workers kidnapped in Ethiopia have been taken to central Somalia.
Local Somali authorities have sent security officials to seek the hostages' freedom from the unidentified abductors.
"We have sent security forces to search for the aid workers, who were brought to the region late yesterday," Ali Sheikh Hashi, a local official, said.
The pair, both employees of the French aid agency, were seized from Fadhigaradle village where they were visiting drought-hit areas in Ethiopia on Monday, Hareri Hassan Barre, the commissioner for the Balanbale district in central Somalia, said.
Kidnappings confirmed
Medecins du Monde confirmed the abductions, but did not give the nationality of its employees.
"The organisation is in permanent contact with the authorities, its team on the ground as well as other actors in the field," it said in a statement.
Somali fighters freed on Monday a German national and his Somali wife who had been abducted over the weekend in the northern Somali breakaway state of Puntland, where kidnapping is endemic.
Kidnappers have also been holding three journalists - a Canadian, an Australian and a Somali - since August 23 and are reportedly demanding $2.5 million for their release.Gaining strengthThe fighting in Somalia came after gun battles had broken out in several areas of Mogadishu over the weekend following an attack on the international airport as an African Union aircraft was landing. Scores of people have been killed in recent days.Anti-government fighters appear to have gained strength in recent weeks with the al-Shabaab armed group, an offshoot of the Islamic Courts' Union, which controlled much of Somalia in 2006, attacking AU bases and removing government checkpoints.Sheikh Muktar Roboow, a spokesman for the movement, has vowed that attacks against the 2,000 AU peacekeepers, many of whom are based at the airport, will be intensified
"We are going to double our attacks against the AU forces. The only option they have is to leave our country," he said. The troops were deployed in March 2007 to help Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the president, bring the nation under the government's control.

Piracy off the Somalia coast

Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean has spun out of control in recent months, threatening to disrupt international maritime trade and further isolating an already agonising country.
According to the International Maritime Bureau, as of October 2, 61 attacks by Somali pirates have been reported since the start of the year.
More than a dozen are currently being held, including a Ukrainian cargo carrying 33 battle tanks.

A Kenya-based maritime organisation estimated the number of pirates operating along Somalia's coast at around 1,100, split into at least four groups.
Most of them are former coast guards.
The Gulf of Aden commands access to the southern entrance of the Suez Canal and is one of the world's most important trade routes.
Some 16,000 ships transit through it each year and around 30 per cent of the world's oil.
'Mother ships'
The pirates use powerful speedboats operating from "mother ships".
They have been known to attack with automatic weapons and RPGs and are believed to hold shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.

They also have satellite phones and GPS systems.
Ransoms vary between several hundred thousand dollars and several million depending on the nature of the cargo and the identity of the hostages.
A recent report estimated that pirates have collected up to $30 million so far this year.
Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa, with 3,700km. The waters are patroled by between 12 and 15 ships belonging to the Combined Taskforce 150, a multinational anti-terror naval coalition.
The hundreds of seafarers taken hostage by Somali pirates include French and German hostages, but mainly Asian cargo crews. Close to 100 Filipinos - who account for a third of the world's shipping manpower - are currently being held.
Threat to trade
The London-based think-tank Chatham House has warned that world trade faces major disruption if Somali piracy is unchecked and allowed to be co-opted by extremists.
The Gulf of Aden commands access to the southern entrance of the Suez Canal and is one of the world's most important trade routes.
Some 16,000 ships and around 30 per cent of the world's oil transits through it each year.
The danger has caused insurance premiums to rise tenfold in a year.
Danger too great
"If the cost of extra insurance becomes prohibitive, or the danger simply too great, shipping companies may avoid the Gulf of Aden and take the long route to Europe and North America around the Cape of Good Hope," the Chatham House report said.
"The extra weeks of travel and fuel consumption would add considerably to the cost of transporting goods" at a time when the price of oil is already putting the squeeze on world trade.
The report also warned that the threat of a major environmental disaster resulting from an attack by pirates should be considered.
Chatham House has argued that the ransom collected by pirates is perhaps used to fuel the war in Somalia and passed to the Shebab, a Muslim group listed as a terrorist organisation by Washington.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

SOMALIA: Hospitals "swamped" as clashes continue

NAIROBI, 24 September 2008 (IRIN) - The main hospital in Mogadishu is overwhelmed by the number of injured people seeking treatment since fighting in the capital intensified, medical sources told IRIN. "We are receiving more injured people than we can reasonably handle; we are completely swamped," Abdi Mohamed Hangul, a doctor at Medina Hospital, said on 24 September. He said the numbers of people seeking treatment was growing daily. "Last night alone we had 30 people within an hour. I worked as a doctor throughout the civil war and I have to say this is one of the worst times for the population. It is a disaster," Hangul said. The hospital's beds, he added, were filled and people were being treated in the corridors or under trees. "We have more people outside than inside." He said the hospital had sufficient drugs to deal with the influx "but manpower is increasingly becoming a problem". Some of the staff had been unable to come to work due to the violence, while those who did make it had been working for over 48 hours with little or no rest, he said. Hospitals across the city also reported receiving a high number of wounded. Pedram Yazdi, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said: "For the time being, the capital's two hospitals [Keysaney and Medina] have enough medical supplies to cope with the influx of wounded, and we will re-supply them if more is needed." Another medical source told IRIN the death toll had risen to more than 100 with at least 300 wounded across the city since 22 September. "Last night [23 September] many more people were killed and injured in the fighting and shelling," the source added. A civil society activist, who declined to be named, said: "There are many more people than those in hospitals who are being cared for in their neighbourhoods; this is because there is no way to take them to hospital due to the insecurity on the roads."
We are receiving more injured people than we can reasonably handle; we are completely swamped A local journalist said the fighting was as intense on the night of 23 September as on 22 September, a day after the clashes began. However, Mogadishu was calm on 24 September after a night of intense shelling. "It has been very quiet since 1am local time," said the journalist, adding: "No one expects it to last." Since fighting between Ethiopian-backed Somali forces and insurgents began in early 2007, about one million Somalis have fled their homes. Some 8,000 civilians have been killed. The UN estimates that 3.2 million Somalis need assistance.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

No Ethiopia-Eritrea border deal

A deadline for long-time foes Ethiopia and Eritrea to demarcate their shared border has expired without agreement.

The date was set a year ago by the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission, which was created following a bloody border war between the two countries.

The commission said it now considered the line it had drawn as the official border and its own mandate fulfilled.

Both sides say they accept the ruling, but neither has made any move towards implementing the recommendation.

Some 80,000 people died during the 1998-2000 war.

The commission has now dissolved itself but a small United Nations peacekeeping force (UNMEE) of 1,700 troops will remain in the border area until early 2008.

A UNMEE spokesman told the BBC it would do as much as it could to prevent hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea but said it would be unable to intervene should a new war break out.

The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, says the commission can hardly be said to have succeeded, but its imminent disappearance leaves the two armies glaring at each other across a still unresolved border.

Dec 2000: Peace agreement
Apr 2002: Border ruling
Mar 2003: Ethiopian complaint over Badme rejected
Sep 2003: Ethiopia asks for new ruling
Feb 2005: UN concern at military build-up
Oct 2005: Eritrea restricts peacekeepers' activities
Nov 2005: UN sanctions threat if no compliance with 2000 deal

What was meant to be a demilitarised border is now thick with troops and bristling with weapons and representatives of the commission have not been able to get in to set up border markers, our correspondent says.

The two sides will not talk to each other and there is no obvious way to move the issue towards a more satisfactory conclusion, she says.

In the past few weeks there has been talk of UN involvement and perhaps the appointment of a facilitator to work with the two sides.

But so far no such initiative has been announced.

Ogaden denial

The Ethiopian and Eritrean leaders, Meles Zenawi and Isaias Afewerki respectively, were allies until after Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1993.

Their rebel movements had fought together to overthrow long-time Ethiopian ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam.

The 1998-2000 war was ostensibly fought over the dusty town of Badme, which was subsequently awarded to Eritrea by the border commission.

But to this day the settlement remains under Ethiopian administration.

Meanwhile, Mr Meles has denied accusations made by separatist rebels in the south-east of Ethiopia that his troops have committed massive human rights abuses against civilians.

The rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front accused government forces of executing local residents during counter-insurgency operations in the region.

Mr Meles said such violations would not take place because his government respected human rights.

He said that given his own experience as a former rebel leader he knew that harassing civilians was the gravest mistake a government fighting an insurgency could make.


Ethiopia Troops Pull Out of Key Town

Ethiopian troops withdrew from the central Somali town of Beletwein overnight Friday, after controlling the key town since July 24, Radio Garowe reported.

Hundreds of locals took to the streets and walked by areas where Ethiopian soldiers used to patrol, including the main administration building and the police station.

It was not clear why the Ethiopian army pulled out of Beletwein, which has the third-largest concentration of Ethiopian forces deployed in Somalia after Mogadishu and Baidoa.

But the region's traditional elders have been negotiating with Ethiopian commanders to leave Beletwein during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Islamic Courts officials claimed victory, saying the Ethiopian troops withdrew after loosing many soldiers in insurgent attacks.

Beletwein residents told Radio Garowe that Islamist fighters had entered the town and took control of strategic areas, including two key bridges.

Officials appointed by the Somali interim government reportedly left Beletwein a day earlier, but it remains unclear whether or not the Ethiopian soldiers who withdrew to a military base in the outskirts of the town will return.


Saturday, 20 September 2008

Hunger levels soar in East Africa

Rising food prices have hit Ethiopia hard

Nearly 17 million people in the Horn of Africa are in urgent need of food and other aid - almost twice as many as earlier this year, the UN has said.
Some $700m (£382m) in emergency aid is needed to prevent the region descending into full-scale famine, it said.

Top UN humanitarian official John Holmes said food stocks were critically low in parts of Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, northern Kenya and Uganda.
The area has suffered from drought, conflict and rocketing food prices.
The number of those at risk could rise still further "as the drought deepens and the hunger season continues", Mr Holmes said.

What we need essentially is more funds, and more funds now, otherwise the situation is going to become even more catastrophic than it is today."
The estimated total for the rest of this year for those in need is $1.4bn. Almost half of that has been raised, Mr Holmes said, but there remains a shortfall of $716m.
"We may need significant funds after that period - this is not the end of the story," he said.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation blames worldwide rises in food prices for helping to push 75 million more people into the ranks of the world's hungry last year - bringing the total to 925 million.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Ethiopia and Eritrea war

dear All

you my be familiar with the news from my attachments or other international medias, Ethiopia's soldiers are still in Somalia and ethiopia and Eritea started waar in 1998

Sunday, 7 September 2008



Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The ccontinued war "The Ethiopia-Somalia War" that coused death and hunger in the country

Hi All

the war between Ethiopia and Somalia still continues and more people are getting hungry i just want to give you information i collected from international medias about the current situation i will try not to bias before sending the current situation please have a look how the war started 2 years back between ethiopia and somail after that i will send you more


The Ethiopia-Somalia War—In the latest phase of the long Somali Civil War, Ethiopia intervened in late 2006 to aid the internationally- recognized Somali government based in the city of Baidoa. The Transitional Government of Somalia (TGS) is opposed by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), an Islamist group which seized control of the national capital of Mogadushu earlier in 2006 from a coalition of warlords.

Ethiopia intervened largely to prevent Islamist forces from gaining full control of Somalia. The ICU received support from foreign Islamist groups as well as from Eritrea, Ethiopia's long-time enemy. The Baidoa government and Ethiopia are supported by the United States.

Ethiopian troops first entered Somalia in small numbers in July, 2006, and by November, were engaged in minor clashes with Somali ICU forces. Major combat between the allied TGS and Ethiopian forces and the ICU forces began on December 20, 2006, with combat around the town of Baidoa. Fighting raged for the rest of the week, with a major escalation coming on December 24, when Ethiopian forces bombed Mogadishu airport and Baledogle Airport, about 35 miles outside Mogadishu, while troops seized Belet Weyne, an important border town. Ethiopian troops also took over the towns of Bandiradley, Adadow and Galinsor. The Ethiopian government reported on television that the goal of the offensive was Jowhar, a town not far from Mogadishu.

Later reports cited 1,000 dead and 3,000 wounded as Ethiopian and TGS forces advanced through central Somalia toward the capital.

Ethiopian and government forces entered Mogadishu on Dec. 29, as Islamist forces retreated toward the south, where fighting continued into early January, 2007. The United States Navy patrolled the Somali coastline to prevent the escape by sea of any Islamists. Also, three members of al-Qaida who are wanted for the 1998 Embassy Bombins are reportedly with the Islamists, and the United States is searching for them and seeking their capture.

As the government and Ethiopian forces attempted to bring order to the capital, Islamist forces began guerrilla attacks against them. By the end of 2007, many experts described the ongoing Islamic resistance as an "Iraq-style insurgency," featuring ambushes, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and an influx of foreign fighters from the Muslim world waging a Jihad against an occupying army.

Though the new Somali government is beginning to function, it still depends on Ethiopia for significant military backing, as combat continues with the Islamic militants.

It should also be noted that inside Ethiopia, the Oromo National Liberation Front (ONLF), which has conducted a guerrilla war against the Addis Abbaba government for decades, is launching attacks against Ethiopian troops headed toward Somalia. The Oromo people are ethnically related to the Somali people.

According to Somalia's Elman Human Rights group, 5,960 civilian fatalities occurred in the capital of Mogadishu in 2007. Also, the group claims that 7,980 civilians were wounded and over 700,000 displaced from their homes due to the continuing war between the Somali government and the Islamic insurgency. Ethiopia is aiding the Somali government; providing troops and air power to fight the insurgents. In December of 2006, Ethiopian forces, with American aid, invaded Islamic forces-held Somali territory and overthrew the extremist Islamic regime and helped install a pro-Western government in its place.


Somali group: 5,960 killed this year--Associated Press, December 2, 2007

Monday, 25 August 2008

Somali fighters 'capture Kismayo'

The fighting in Kismayo has left 70 dead and wounded scores [File: AFP]

The fighting in Kismayo has left 70 dead and wounded scores [File: AFP]
Islamic fighters say they have seized control of Kismayo, Somalia's third-largest city, after three days of fighting that has left about 70 people dead and led to thousands of people fleeing.The Islamic Courts Union (ICU) said on Sunday that it had wrested control of the southern port city from clan militias a day earlier.
ICU forces moved into Kismayo at the request of its residents, and the city "will remain under Islamic control", said sheik Ibrahim Shukri, a spokesman for the ICU, which controlled the capital, Mogadishu, and much of the south for six months in 2006.
Government officials declined to comment on the claim.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia, said in a statement on Saturday that he "deplored" the recent killings and displacement of people in Kismayo.
Kismayo earningsHe said the fighting was over the control of the port's income.
The claims came after two foreign journalists - a Canadian woman and an Australian man - were kidnapped while travelling near Mogadishu on Saturday, two Somali civilians said.
Journalists and relief workers are frequently abducted for ransoms in Somalia, even those who travel in convoys heavily guarded by freelance armed men.
A report on the website of Canada's National Post newspaper identified the woman as 27-year-old Amanda Lindhout.
It quoted her father, John Lindhout, as saying she had recently arrived in the country with an Australian friend who was also kidnapped.
An official at the hotel where the two were staying in Mogadishu identified the man only as Nigel, a 27-year-old from Australia.
Their Somali translator was also kidnapped, according to reports from Mogadishu.
In Kismayo, the International Committee of the Red Cross delivered by plane two tons of medical supplies to Kismayo Hospital on Saturday, said Nicole Engelbrecht, an ICRC spokeswoman.Clan loyalties
Engelbrecht said there was also fighting in Afmadow, about 110km northwest of Kismayo, during which 135 people were wounded.
She said the agency did not have details of fatalities.
Somalia has been at war since 1991, when clan-based militias ousted Siad Barre, a socialist dictator, and then fought for power among themselves.
The conflict is complicated by clan loyalties and the involvement of archenemies Eritrea and Ethiopia, who both back opposite sides in the fighting.
The last UN peacekeeping force in Somalia included American troops who arrived in 1992 and tried to arrest warlords and create a government.
The US involvement ended in October 1993, when fighters shot down a US Army Black Hawk helicopter during a battle that killed 18 American soldiers.
Since then, Ethiopian troops have helped Somalia's fragile transitional government push the Islamists from power in Mogadishu and much of the south, but failed to establish security or improve living standards.