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Security Council Extends Mandate of African Union Mission in Somalia

Posted by African Press International on November 13, 2013

NEW YORK, November 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Security Council today extended the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to 31 October 2014, requesting the African Union to increase the troop strength of that regional peacekeeping body from 17,731 to a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel as part of overall efforts to combat the increasingly asymmetrical tactics of Al-Shabaab rebels in the country.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2124 (2013) under the Charter’s Chapter VII, the 15-member body also expanded the logistical support package for AMISOM for a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel until 31 October 2014. It agreed with the Secretary-General that conditions in Somalia were not yet appropriate for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation, taking note of benchmarks for such efforts outlined in his 14 October letter (document S/2013/606).

By other terms, the Council underlined that increases in force strength were to provide enhancement of AMISOM’s military capacity for 18 to 24 months, and further, were part of the Mission’s overall exit strategy, after which a decrease in force strength would be considered. It agreed with the Secretary-General on the critical need for sourcing contingent-owned equipment, including force enablers and multipliers, either from existing AMISOM troop contributors or other States, citing the particular need for up to 12 military helicopters. It encouraged Member States to respond in that regard.

Further, the Council requested the Secretary-General to work with the African Union to improve by 1 January 2014 the strategic management of AMISOM by strengthening command and control structures, the coordination of contingents, joint operations with the Somali National Army (SNA) and information management.

As for Somali institutions, the Council requested the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM to provide – as exceptional support — food, water, fuel, transport, tents and “in-theatre” medical evacuation to front-line units of the Somali National Army, the funding for which would be provided from an appropriate United Nations trust fund.

Regarding United Nations personnel, the Council took note of the Secretary-General’s intention to deploy a guard force to strengthen security at the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). It requested details on its deployment “as soon as possible” and emphasized, in that context, the importance of AMISOM’s protection of Mogadishu International Airport Compound within the troop ceiling. On the political front, it urged increased collaboration among the African Union, United Nations and Somali Government towards a comprehensive approach to peace, security and development.

Speaking after adoption, the representative of the Russian Federation said he had voted in favour of the resolution to support African Union efforts in fostering settlement in Somalia, based on the key role that its mission had played in that regard. However, some of his Government’s concerns had not been borne in mind. He was seriously concerned by the wording in paragraph 21, which outlined the Somali Government’s requirement to provide full access to humanitarian organizations, which ran counter to the principles of humanitarian assistance.

He went on to say that the Federal Government was not in a position to control a significant part of the country and that humanitarian organizations were leaving Somalia not because they had been hindered by the Government, but rather, because of the security situation. In establishing humanitarian principles, the Council was getting into an area not covered by its remit — standard setting, which was covered by the General Assembly. Therefore, he did not consider the wording in paragraph 21 as setting a precedent.

The representative of Somalia said that, over the last year, the important parts of his country’s six-pillar policy had been implemented. While the Council had “sustained” Somalia for a long time, there was now a light at the end of the tunnel. Its partnership in support of critical priorities was at a turning point. Indeed, the Council had noted the achievements of AMISOM to liberate Somalia from the scourge of Al-Shabaab, as well as the assistance and training that had enabled his Government to liberate the residual components of that group.

He went on to express hope that the Somali Army contingent fighting with AMISOM to defeat Al-Shabaab would be supported in a more consistent and timely manner by the United Nations, raising questions over when resources from the United Nations trust fund would arrive. AMISOM had been given 18 to 24 months to complete its mandate and he wondered if the trust fund would allow Somali armed forces to liberate the country in enough time for preparations for elections in 2015-2016 to proceed. All means should be applied to ensure those funds arrived as soon as possible. “Otherwise it will be a disaster for Somalia once again,” he cautioned.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:25 a.m.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2124 (2013) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling its previous resolutions on the situation in Somalia, in particular resolutions 2036 (2012), 2093 (2013) and 2111 (2013), and statements of its President on the situation in Somalia,

“Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia, and reiterating its commitment to a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the situation in Somalia,

“Taking note of the Joint African Union (AU)-United Nations Mission on the benchmarks for a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Somalia and their assessment of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Security Forces, and underlining the importance it attaches to greater peace, prosperity and stability in Somalia,

“Taking note of the AU Peace and Security Council’s 10 October Communiqué on the Joint AU-United Nations Review of AMISOM and the benchmarking exercise, and welcoming in particular its call to all AU Member States to contribute financially to AMISOM,

“Welcoming the constructive manner in which both the Secretariat and the AU conducted the joint review,

“Underlining its gratitude for the work of AMISOM, in particular the extraordinary sacrifices made by AMISOM forces and personnel in pursuit of peace in Somalia,

“Welcoming the support of the international community to peace and stability in Somalia, in particular the European Union for its substantial contribution in supporting AMISOM, and emphasizing the importance of new contributors sharing the financial burden of supporting AMISOM,

“Noting with appreciation recent high-level events on Somalia which have generated substantial pledges of support, and underlining the importance of delivering on any support pledged at these events,

“Condemning recent Al-Shabaab attacks in Somalia and beyond, which serve to undermine the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia, and expressing its solidarity with the people and Governments of Somalia and the region,

“Expressing serious concern at the Secretary-General’s assessment in his

14 October letter to the Security Council that recent security gains against Al Shabaab are at serious risk of being reversed, and noting that the Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM have now assumed a more defensive posture,

“Noting the Secretary-General’s assessment that there is an urgent need to resume and strengthen the military campaign against Al Shabaab, which requires an enhancement of international support to the Somali National Security Forces and to AMISOM,

“Noting the Secretary-General’s assessment that a comprehensive strategy that includes political, economic and military components is needed to reduce the asymmetrical threat posed by Al-Shabaab,

“Acting under Chapter VII of the charter of the United Nations,

AMISOM

“1. Decides to authorize the Member States of the AU to maintain the deployment of AMISOM, as set out in paragraph 1 of resolution 2093 (2013), until 31 October 2014, which shall be authorized to take all necessary measures, in full compliance with its obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law, and in full respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia, to carry out its mandate;

“2. Agrees with the Secretary-General that conditions in Somalia are not yet appropriate for the deployment of a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation, takes note of the benchmarks for a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation as set out in the Secretary-General’s 14 October letter, and endorsed in the 11 October letter of the AU Commission Chairperson, and requests that the Secretary-General keeps progress against the benchmarks under continuous review, in consultation with the AU, and with a view to creating conducive conditions for the potential deployment of a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation and the hand-over of security responsibilities to national authorities;

“3. Requests the AU to increase AMISOM’s force strength from 17,731 to a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel as set out in the Secretary-General’s 14 October letter;

“4. Decides to expand the logistical support package for AMISOM, referred to in paragraph 4 of resolution 2093 (2013), for a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel until 31 October 2014, ensuring the accountability and transparency of expenditure of the United Nations funds as set out in paragraph 6 of resolution 1910 (2010), and consistent with the requirements of the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Due Diligence Policy;

“5. Underlines that, in line with the Joint United Nations-AU Review of AMISOM, the increases in the force strength decided in this resolution are to provide a short-term enhancement of AMISOM’s military capacity, for a period of 18 to 24 months and as part of an overall exit strategy for AMISOM, after which a decrease in AMISOM’s force strength will be considered;

“6. Agrees with the Secretary-General on the critical need for sourcing contingent owned equipment including force enablers and multipliers as provided for in paragraph 6 of resolution 2036 (2012) either from existing AMISOM Troop-Contributing Countries or other Member States, emphasizes in particular the need for an appropriate aviation component of up to twelve military helicopters, and encourages Member States to respond to AU efforts to mobilize such equipment;

“7. Reiterates paragraphs 5 of resolution 2093 (2013) regarding logistical support to AMISOM;

“8. Further reiterates paragraph 13 of resolution 2093 (2013) on the strengthening of women and children’s protection in AMISOM operations and activities;

“9. Requests the Secretary-General to work closely with the AU in order to support the implementation of this resolution, in particular by improving efficiency in the planning and strategic management of AMISOM, including strengthening command and control structures, the operational coordination of contingents, joint operations with the SNA, and information management, through a new Concept of Operations by 1 January 2014, with a view to enabling AMISOM to respond to the increasingly asymmetrical tactics used by Al-Shabaab, through an effective resumption of the military campaign against Al-Shabaab, which would rapidly reduce its capacity to control key strategic locations, and further requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide technical and expert advice to the AU in the planning, deployment and management of AMISOM through the United Nations office to the AU, and reiterates its request to the Secretary-General, in view of the substantial increases in AMISOM capabilities and support to the SNA, to enhance the provision of technical advice to the AU through existing United Nations mechanisms;

“10. Requests the AU to advance efforts to implement a system to address allegations of misconduct, which includes clear mechanisms for receiving and tracking allegations, as well as for following up with troop-contributing countries on the results of the investigations and disciplinary actions taken as applicable, and requests the United Nations to redouble its efforts to advise and provide guidance to the AU in this endeavour;

“11. Reiterates its request, and that of the AU Peace and Security Council, for AMISOM to develop further an effective approach to the protection of civilians, and stresses in particular the urgent need for AMISOM to establish and use a Civilian Casualty Tracking, Analysis and Response Cell, as requested in resolution 2093 (2013);

“12. Underlines the importance of AMISOM abiding by all requirements applicable to it under international human rights and humanitarian law, further underlines in particular the need for AMISOM to ensure that any detainees in their custody, including disengaged combatants, are treated in strict compliance with applicable obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law, including ensuring their humane treatment and further requests AMISOM to allow appropriate access to detainees by a neutral body, and to establish Standard Operating Procedures for the handover of any detainees, including children, who come into their custody during a military operation;

“13. Reiterates its call for new donors to support AMISOM through the provision of additional funding for troop stipends, equipment, technical assistance and uncaveated funding for AMISOM to the United Nations Trust Fund for AMISOM, and underlines the AU’s call for their Member States to provide financial support to AMISOM;

Somali federal security institutions

“14. Takes note of the Secretary-General’s recommendation of the need to provide targeted support to front line units of the Somali National Army (SNA), requests UNSOA to support the SNA through the provision of food and water, fuel, transport, tents and in theatre medical evacuation, decides that this exceptional support shall be provided only for joint SNA operations with AMISOM and which are part of AMISOM’s overall Strategic Concept, further decides that funding for this support will be provided from an appropriate United Nations trust fund, and encourages Member States to make uncaveated contributions to the trust fund;

“15. Underlines that the support outlined in paragraph 14 of this resolution must be in full compliance with the United Nations Human Rights and Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP), further underlines its expectation that the Secretary-General will report on all UNSOA support to the SNA including on the implementation of the HRDDP, and also requests AMISOM to use its Civilian Casualties Tracking Analysis and Response cell as part of its reporting on joint AMISOM operations with the SNA;

“16. Underlines that all forces supported by UNSOA shall act in compliance with the Secretary-General’s Human Rights and Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP), and in that context further underlines its expectation that the Federal Government of Somalia will give its assurance to the Security Council, including in writing, that any Government forces being supported by UNSOA on joint operations with AMISOM will act in compliance with the HRDDP, and recalls the importance of training in this regard;

“17. Requests that to assist UNSOM to fulfil its mission, the Head of UNSOA shall keep the Special Representative of the Secretary-General informed on the implementation of the AMISOM support package, and further requests the Secretary-General to include this information in his regular reporting to the Security Council;

“18. Calls upon the Federal Government of Somalia to continue its efforts, with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), AMISOM (in accordance with their respective mandates), and other international partners to strengthen the Somali National Security Forces including by mapping the structure of these forces, establishing clear command and control systems, implementing appropriate procedures, codes of conduct and training including to ensure the safe storage, registration, maintenance and distribution of military equipment and finalizing and implementing a national program for the treatment and handling of disengaged combatants and promoting respect for human rights, including through implementing the relevant Somali Government action plans on children and armed conflict;

“19. Further requests UNSOM, in accordance with its mandate, to continue to assist in the rebuilding of Somali security institutions, and reiterates in particular UNSOM’s role in providing strategic policy advice on security sector reform (SSR) and assisting the Federal Government of Somalia in coordinating international donor support on SSR;

“20. Requests UNSOM, working closely with the AU, to assist the Federal Government of Somalia in developing broad principles on the nature of policing in Somalia with a view to proposing further options to support the development of an effective police force in Somalia;

“21. Requests the Federal Government of Somalia to ensure the protection and well-being of all internally displaced persons, including from sexual violence and exploitation, paying particular attention to ensuring that the human rights of internally displaced persons in Somalia are respected in relation to relocations, and to ensure a fully consultative process, providing prior notice and ensuring safe, sanitary new sites that have basic services, as well as full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian organizations;

Security of United Nations personnel

“22. Takes note of the Secretary-General’s intention to deploy an appropriate United Nations Static Guard unit to strengthen security at UNSOM compounds, looks forward to receiving further details of its deployment as outlined in the Secretary-General’s 14 October letter as soon as possible, and strongly emphasizes the importance of AMISOM’s protection of Mogadishu International Airport Compound within the troop ceiling authorized in this resolution;

Political process

“23. Urges increased collaboration between the AU, United Nations and Federal Government of Somalia, including on a comprehensive approach to peace, security and development which integrates political, security, peacebuilding and development activities, recognizing that none can succeed in isolation;

“24. Recalls its 13 September 2013 statement welcoming the agreement between the Federal Government of Somalia and the Interim Jubba Administration, emphasizes the importance of all parties ensuring that the timelines as stipulated in the agreement are met, and further emphasizes the importance of the Federal Government of Somalia ensuring the right political conditions are in place to ensure greater peace and stability in Somalia;

“25. Welcomes in this context the efforts undertaken by the Federal Government of Somalia to consolidate security and establish the rule of law in areas secured by AMISOM and the Security Forces of the Federal Government of Somalia, and encourages it to continue to lead an inclusive national dialogue, with the support of UNSOM, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the AU to clarify and settle relations between the Federal government of Somalia and existing and emerging local administrations and initiate processes of national reconciliation in order to accelerate efforts to establish sustainable, legitimate and representative local governance structures across the country, especially in areas recovered from Al-Shabaab;

“26. Encourages the Federal Government of Somalia to finalize and adopt a federal Constitution by December 2015, to prepare for and hold credible elections in 2016; and to ensure the equitable participation of women, youth, minority groups and other marginalized groups in national political processes;

“27. Further encourages the Federal Government of Somalia to implement its “Vision 2016″ agenda which sets out the importance of a Somali-owned, inclusive, and transparent political process and economic recovery, consistent with the Provisional Constitution and including an effective federal political system and a comprehensive reconciliation process that brings about national cohesion and integration;

Sanctions

“28. Expresses concern at continuing violations of the Security Council charcoal ban requests the Secretary-General and his Special Representative to raise awareness amongst relevant Member States on their requirements to abide by the charcoal ban, as set out in resolution 2036 (2012);

“29. Underlines the importance of the Federal Government of Somalia and Member States complying with all aspects of the arms embargo, including the reporting and notification requirements set out in resolution 2111 (2013);

Reporting

“30. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of all aspects of this resolution as part of his regular reporting to the Security Council on the situation in Somalia;

31. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

 

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Norway: Memorial gathering in Oslo for Kenya’s Westgate Victims

Posted by African Press International on October 7, 2013

Kenyans and friends living in Norway gathered this weekend (5th October 2013) to remember those who died in the cowardly terrorist attack that took place in Westgate Shopping Mall on Saturday 21st September where over 65 people were killed.  Some are missing and are yet to be found by their loved ones. No one knows whether they are dead.

PART 1

PART 2

PART 3

PART 4

The Al Shabaab of Somalia took responsibility for the attack, saying they are on a revenge mission against Kenya for their involvement in Somalia. The Kenya Government entered Somalia a couple of years a go to help stabilise the country and help get a government of the people, ridding out the Al Shabaab. There are still small groups operating in the Southern part of Somalia.

The Al Shabaab says the attack in Westgate Mall causing deaths is a signal they are sending to Kenya that there will be more such attacks if Kenya does not remove its soldiers from Somali soil – the government has soldiers participating in the Africa Union army helping the weak Somali government that the Al Shabaab want to dislodge. and turn the country into a Somali Muslim Republic with strict Somali laws.

End

 

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OSLO: Praying for Kenya in Norway after Westgate Mall Terror attack

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2013

Solidarity with Kenya – Prayer service

,Pray for Kenya – Pray until something happens!

Kenyans and friends of Kenya living in Oslo, Norway held prayers for Kenya to pray for the country and the victims of Nairobi‘s Westgate Mall terror attack that took place a week ago.

The hosts:

Oslo International Church, Association of Kenyans in Norway and Kenya Students Association in Norway.

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The important song for the day: ITS WELL WITH MY SOUL:

1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say

It is well, it is well, with my soul

Refrain;

It is well, with my soul

It is well, it is well, with my soul

2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

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Praying for Kenya in Norway after Westgate Mall Terror attack: Only MEMORIES

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Praying for Kenya in Norway after Westgate Mall Terror attack Part 1

Praying for Kenya in Norway after Westgate Mall Terror attack Part 2

Praying for Kenya in Norway after Westgate Mall Terror attack Part 3

May God bless the people of Kenya. African Press International sends condolences to all the families who lost their loved ones.

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Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto Addresses the Nation after the terrorist attack in Nairobi

Posted by African Press International on September 23, 2013

He told the Kenyan people to be calm and that the country will defeat the evil that has befallen the good patriotic Kenyans.

He spoke to the Kenyan people immediately after his arrival from the Hague.

The court allowed him one week in order to get back to Kenya and assist the President in sorting out the problem affecting the country.

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Kenya: Deaths risen to 59 – Terror attack in Nairobi

Posted by African Press International on September 22, 2013

The Al Shabaab terror attack yesterday in Nairobi is now reported to have taken 59 lives and 175 reported injured.

Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Interior has confirmed the number of deaths. This is a big loss to Kenya and the families affected.

Related:

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Kenya: Terror attack that took the lives of 39 and injured 150 people in Nairobi – Al Shabaab is to blame.

Posted by African Press International on September 22, 2013

Yesterday was a very ad day for Kenya. The Al Shabaab is said to have claimed responsibility for the killings. The attack in the Mall Westgate started around 11 am. Reports say the attackers entered the mall after killing security personnel guarding the entrance.

On entering the Mall, survivors say they shouted that they had come to revenge killings of Muslims. Those who are Muslims caught in the act were allowed to leave by the attackers.

End

 

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Kenya: Westgate Attack: Security agencies response – Al Shabaab takes the blame

Posted by African Press International on September 21, 2013

It has been reported that the AL Shabaab is responsible for the attack

President Uhuru speaks to the Nation:

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Norway condemns attack on UN in Somalia

Posted by African Press International on June 23, 2013

Norway strongly condemns the attack on the UN compound in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. “This was a cowardly attack against UN organisations that are providing support and assistance to a very hard-hit population,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.

The UN Common Compound in Mogadishu was hit by a terrorist attack on June 19 2013. Several people were killed in the attack.

“Acts of this kind are completely unacceptable. The attack on the UN is an attack on the entire international community. It violates basic principles of humanity and humanitarian work,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide

Somalia has just emerged from one of the most severe famines the world has seen in recent years, and the disaster continues to affect the everyday lives of over a million Somalis. Last year Somalia established a new Government, which has started to turn the trend of persistent negative development into progress. For the first time in decades there is a sense of cautious optimism in Somalia.

Norway has provided extensive humanitarian assistance to Somalia in recent years. The efforts of the UN are of crucial importance to Somalia’s future, and the UN is a vital channel for Norwegian aid to the country. Norway will continue to support the Government in Mogadishu and to promote peaceful development in Somalia that remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for local and international aid workers to work.

“Our thoughts are with those affected by the terrorist attack and their families. The attack targeted people who carry out crucially important work every day to help the people in one of the world’s poorest and most conflict-ridden countries,” Mr Holmås said.

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There is Insecurity in Northeastern Kenya – Who should take the blame?

Posted by African Press International on May 20, 2013

GARISSA-NAIROBI,  – The presence of foreign militias in parts of northeastern Kenya, and their collusion with security officials and business people there, may be to blame for a rise in insecurity in the region, where multiple gun and grenade attacks have been reported over the past two years. 

But securing northern Kenya is increasingly vital to the government, with the badlands growing in economic viability, the new constitution shifting power to the counties, and mega development projects being planned in the region.In October 2011, Kenyan troops launched an intervention into Somalia in pursuit of the Somali insurgent Al-Shabab militia, which it blamed for incursions into Kenya. Since then, dozens of people, including security officers, have been killed in attacks, mainly in the northeastern town of Garissa and the mainly-Somali Dadaab refugee camp.

To address this, a number of security operations have been launched, involving the deployment of hundreds of police and military officers, arrests and curfews, as well the cessation of the registration of new Somali refugees amid fears of Al-Shabab infiltration.

The most recent security operation in Garissa led to hundreds of arrests. “Ten police officers, among them the head of crime investigations [and] six local [administration] chiefs, have been suspended,” Charles Mureithi, the northeastern regional police chief, told IRIN, adding, “More arrests are on the way, and, of course, convictions.”

The police officers and chiefs were said to be operating in league with the criminals, a view shared by a Garissa political leader, who spoke with IRIN on the condition of anonymity.

“The monster responsible for all the sufferings we have experienced is… a club of wealthy traders from the Far East, Somalia [and] Kenya [as well as] politicians, our security officers and at least two sects of Al-Shabab,” said the Garissa leader.

Who is to blame for the rising insecurity?

An Al-Shabab-linked militia group has been blamed for some of the attacks in Garissa.

“They only strike with an objective [of] fight[ing] other religions,” said Maulid*, a Garissa resident. “In Garissa, they worship in two mosques, same [as] in Nairobi. They consider us as infidels.”

Churches in Garissa have been among the buildings targeted by grenade attacks.

An Islamic religious leader, who preferred anonymity, called for the arrest of Al-Shabab-linked leaders and the seizure of their properties. “We want to see traders who paid gangs of criminals to kill arrested,” he said.

According to Ahmed Yasin, a political science graduate from Somalia, the Al-Shabab-linked militias are retaliating against some prominent Kenyan Somalis’ support for the creation of an autonomous region of Jubaland in southern Somalia – which could serve as a buffer zone between the two countries – and against their support for the Ras Kamboni militia.

In September 2012, the Ras Kamboni militia, alongside Kenyan troops, forced Al-Shabab out of the lucrative port city of Kismayo, which is a key economic and strategic resource for militias in southern Somalia. On 15 May, Ras Kamboni leader Sheikh Ahmed Madobe was announced as Jubaland’s president.

While Al-Shabab is bitter at losing Kismayo, Yasin said, it also opposes the creation of a buffer zone, which would protect Kenya from Al-Shabab incursions.

“Political leaders, elders and clerics must abandon support for [the] Ras Kamboni militia group… They must be wise [and] restrain from Somalia politics… and let their people enjoy peace,” warned Yasin.

What has been the fallout of the insecurity?

A security operation to pacify the region has led to dozens of arrests; those found without legal identification documents were netted. Rights groups, however, are critical of these sweeping operations.

Some Kenyan youths in Garissa are wrongfully being arrested as they lack identity cards, said Abdiwelli Mohamed of the local organization Citizens Rights Watch. The process of acquiring identification documents is often fraught with challenges, including long delays in the often-neglected northern region.

According to Khalif Abdi Farah of the Garissa Northern Forum for Democracy, a civil society organization, dozens of people have also been injured, with others being illegally arrested in the crackdown.

The police denied claims of arbitrary arrests, a view shared by Haji*, a Garissa resident and retailer. “It’s true [that] the police conducted house-to-house searches [and] stopped people on the streets. They checked identity cards and counter-checked with a list they were carrying. It’s clear [that] they are looking for particular individuals,” he said.

Besides a rising death toll and a large number of people injured in attacks over the past two years, the insecurity has had adverse socio-economic effects. Garissa businesses have been hit hard.

A night club and guest house owner in Garissa said his business has suffered due to the curfew. “I only have an hour to operate. [I] open the pub at 5pm and close by 6pm.”

Fear has also affected his business: “My guest house clients, [who] were mainly travellers either heading to Wajir, Mandera or Nairobi, these days no longer spend a night in Garissa for fear of arrest or attack,” he said.

Proceeds from the once-booming Garissa livestock market are declining too, said a revenue officer, noting that livestock traders are afraid of arrest. Asset and property values have also dropped significantly since December 2012, with fewer people opting to live or invest in Garissa. 

Why is securing northern Kenya vital?

Securing Garissa and other northern Kenya regions has become a priority for the government, particularly amid the country’s newly devolved governance structure, lucrative cross-border development plans and the north’s growing economic viability.

Devolution, a centrepiece of Kenya’s 2010 constitution, will allocate more resources to the county governments, a move that is expected to reduce the marginalization of outer areas like northern Kenya.

Kenya is also seeking to develop closer ties with its neighbours in the north, mainly Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan, amid planned mega development projects, such as the Lamu Port and Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET), which will link the Horn of Africa region.

“Previously peripheral areas to the north and east will assume a new economic, and so political, significance,” states a 2 May analysis by Oxford Analytica, a global analysis and advisory firm, which notes that development had previously been concentrated in the central belt stretching from Nairobi to the Ugandan border.

Kenya also expects to get relief from its current electricity shortages by 2016 thorough the Eastern Electricity Highway Project, which will connect Kenya’s electrical grid to Ethiopia’s, adds the analysis. “Protecting this supply will require: greater security in border areas; more careful management of local conflicts between communities in border areas to prevent escalation into disputes between the two states; and continued friendly relations between Nairobi and Addis Ababa.”

Recent oil discoveries in northwest Kenya, and ongoing exploration in other regions, such as near Lamu, “ further underline the importance of once-peripheral areas of the country to future economic development,” added the analysis.

What challenges lie ahead?

“Nairobi’s incentive to extend state authority to historically neglected regions will grow, but not without facing significant challenges,” said a 14 May Oxford Analytica analysis.

The northern Kenya regions are characterized by widespread insecurity. Inter-communal violence and the proliferation of small arms are common, the state is largely absent, and the borders are mostly porous.

For example, there are currently inter-clan clashes in Mandera, which neighbours Garissa, with several people being reported dead and at least 6,600 displaced, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society.

In response, security in Mandera has been beefed up and residents have been urged to surrender illegal firearms.

Forceful disarmament is likely there, as similar moves have occurred elsewhere in the north. But this only further alienates residents who blame insecurity on the inadequate state presence.

“While such events appear familiar and of little wider significance, the new geography of Kenya’s development plan – including energy, transportation, hydrocarbons – alters the political considerations of centre-periphery relations and increases the relevance of long-standing insecurity and distrust,” Oxford Analytica’s 14 May analysis said.

“If an historical state reliance on coercion continues, rising insecurity in northern and coastal areas creates some risks for smoother longer-term economic development,” it noted.

Kenya After the Elections, a 15 May policy briefing by the International Crisis Group (ICG), warns that devolution may not “be a ‘magic bullet’ that will allow the country to correct historical patterns of neglect, and redress regional marginalization and inequitable development… There are concerns devolution could ultimately balkanize counties, creating ‘ethnic fiefdoms’.”

The briefing urges county governments to be inclusive of minority interests to address inequality.

“The new government has the opportunity to usher in a new era of peace and socioeconomic development that would benefit all communities and unite the country. The foundation has been laid with the overwhelming support the constitution received in 2010, a base that should be maintained and built upon for a peaceful and prosperous future.”

*Name changed

aw-na/rz  source http://www.irinnews.org

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Victimizing rape victims in Somalia: Time to eliminate the cultural taboo of gender based violence

Posted by African Press International on April 7, 2013

  • By Farhia Ali Abdi

“Women and girls are particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence, including in some cases as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instill fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group”(UN resolution 1820)

The media headline around the world read, “Somalia has sentenced a woman, allegedly raped by government soldiers, to jail, along with a journalist who spoke to her about the attack”.  This case ignited global outrage and divided Somalis regarding the definition of rape and the cultural interpretation of sexual assault.

Since the collapse of the central government in 1991, Somalia has been subject to widespread violence and instability.  A Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was succeeded by a new federal government in September, 2012. Somali security forces, with the assistance of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and others, have liberated the capital city of Mogadishu and other key cities in southern and central Somalia from administration by al-Shabaab, a radical Islamist movement.  However, the new federal government’s reach and ability to provide services remain limited.

Rape Culture in today’s Somali Society.

Rape culture is a concept used to describe a society in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape.  Unfortunately, rape has become epidemic in Somali according to those who work closely with people throughout the country. And while these kinds of assaults, are not new in the country, particularly for those who live in the refugee camps (internally displaced persons), the repercussions from the trial cited above has imparted significant additional damage to the combat against gender based sexual assaults.

In January, 2013 a 27-year-old Somali woman, claimed to have been gang-raped by government soldiers. The victim was later arrested according to the report from Somalia by police and taken to the Central Investigations Department (C.I.D.) where she was interrogated and forced to retract her allegations against the security forces. The rape victim and the reporter who interviewed her were accused of fabricating false claim against government soldiers and were said to have been profiting from the allegations. Both the reporter and the victim were later convicted and sentenced to one year in prison at the time. The implication of this conviction goes beyond the accused. The imprisonment of a victim of rape sends the wrong message to women everywhere in Somalia most of whom are already intimidated by the untamed gangs including soldiers. This verdict has condoned violence against women. It reinforces and further entrenches old and outdated attitudes and actions towards women in current Somali society.  There is a culture of denial, silence and stigma in Somalia when it comes to rape. It is a taboo subject and people are already afraid to talk about it.  The Somali Human Development report describes how “traditional Somali society is conditioned not to openly discuss issues such as domestic violence and rape, which further hampers women’s access to justice”(SHDR).

In this context, the price of rape for Somali women is severe and has multifaceted implications for individuals and their families. Rape or any sexual assaults is cultural taboo in Somali society, it leads to shame and in the most serious of cases, the ostracism of family members. In some cases, communities continue to fuel the stigma, stereotyping and discrimination against the victims who are already traumatized and isolated.

The director of Somalia’s rape victim’s crisis center in Mogadishu has reported that:

“Younger girls, often 16 or 17, are usually afraid to tell their parents they have been raped and may now be pregnant, for fear they will not be believed, especially by their fathers; so they run away and stay at our center.  These younger victims are the ones who are most reluctant to report they were raped because they are also worried about their future and whether being a victim of rape will lessen their chances for marriage.”

There are a lot of displaced refugees within Somalia, about 1, 373,080 in Mogadishu alone according to the UNHCRs 2013 Country Operations Report.  Women and children in these camps are extremely neglected, living in unprotected and congested settlements; where women and girls are particularly exposed to sexual and gender-based violence.  In a recent interview, Zainab Hawa  Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, she recounted  how the “U.N. had evidence that 1700 Somali women had been raped in camps for internally displaced people in the Mogadishu area between January and November last year, with the majority of perpetrators reportedly wearing uniforms.”  It is safe to assume the incidents within camps in other parts of the country, may be just as high, but was not reported.

Current Somali Justice System:

Somalia developed its justice system after independence in 1960 by unifying legislation and judicial structure drawn from colonial and Islamic legal customs and traditions. It was reformed in 1969 after the military coup, based on scientific socialism and included additional reforms implemented through the military regime in control. The judiciary, however, collapsed after the civil war and there is no uniform system of criminal justice administration in Somalia today. Enforcement of criminal laws, therefore, is haphazard to nonexistent.  There are regional and locally established courts operating throughout Somalia under a combination of Somali customary and Islamic Shari’a law; some of which lack legitimacy in the eyes of the wider population. The Somali Human Development Report (2012) indicates that in Somalia the “traditional laws, used in lieu of a state judiciary, are highly discriminatory against women” (HDR).

In a recent interview (Feb, 2013) with Al Jazeera, the president of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, said that while his government “is the only government that is dedicated to improving the lives of women in Somalia; he will not directly interfere with the ongoing court case. He added, “I don’t have the right to interfere in the judiciary system… my interference with the judiciary system, will never help the rule of law in Somalia,”

Similar remarks from the Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s office, Mahamoud Abdulle, were quoted in an interview with the British newspaper the Guardian on March 07, 2013 regarding the journalist arrested with the rape victim “it’s not our (government’s), decision and we can’t do a lot about it…We have an independent judiciary that is in its infancy, and we cannot interfere with that…”It’s important to be careful about making allegations against the police. They have done a very good job in large areas of society. Of course there might be a few bad apples in the barrel.”

While the President and his government’s representative’s remarks about non-interference with “the rule of law” are admirable, it doesn’t reflect the reality of a country with an inadequate judiciary system. The President cannot take the high road, while the justice system in place in the country, is so disjointed.

These are not remarks that a government should be making at the same time that its citizens are being terrorized and victimized by the same people who were entrusted to protect them. These are serious matters that do not require masking, but rather require a hard look at the root of the problem. Now, is the time to construct a sustainable justice system in Somalia, run by a qualified, trained and unbiased judiciary and guided by structured legislation. As the Prime Minister’s secretary pointed out, the judiciary system is “in its infancy” and it does require direction. The federal government needs to outline a comprehensive strategy to increase the coordination of a gender-based violence prevention and response system.

Currently, hundreds of millions of aid dollars pour through big agencies that provide food, water, and health services to the Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps and to the country in general., Somalia’s dramatically escalating sexual violence, however, is being largely ignored both by the international community and the government of Somalia. The situation of women in Somalia today calls for an urgent moral stand. Women, who are the majority of the victims in Somalia, must receive more attention and more protection.

Women in Somalia, as in all countries around the world, should have the right to be free from the gender-based violence that results in physical, sexual and psychological harm. Society needs to condemn violence against women, find justice for victims; and protect and empower all women. Women in Somalia live with domestic violence, constant fear of rape, lack of health care and basic needs and cultural inferiority. It is time for society to stand up and speak up for these women. Somali needs to reject the fear of violence and sexual assaults that is pervasive in the country today.

  • The way forward:

In many countries where a rape crisis exists, the stigma can be overwhelming, making the gathering of information about sexual violence all the more difficult. As mentioned earlier, speaking out publicly about rape or sexual violence can leave a woman both shunned and abandoned by her community. While the problem of gender-based violence appears monumental in nature, there are ways to address it:

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  • The government has a responsibility to bring about legislation that criminalize violence and sexual assault against women
  • The government has a responsibility to take the lead on educating and raising awareness about the growing issue of sexual violence
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  • Somalia needs a strong justice system that will build people’s confidence in the State’s institutions and systems and that will seek to remove the impunity pervasive in Somalia today.
  • The government needs to establish the authority required to administer criminal-justice and put in place qualified, reliable, and unbiased judiciary bodies that can deal with the nation’s affairs.
  • The government must protect women and treat women’s rights as a shared responsibility, recognising women as rightful Somali citizens who can live without fear of sexual and physical assault.    
  • The government must set policies that include strategies to combat and prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence; which encourage local and national ownership of the problem and its solution.
  • There must be proper institutions in place that can respond to the victim’s needs and rehabilitation, and which include protection from re-victimization.
  • Finally, the government needs to strengthen its research and data collection capacity, which can then guide and enhance gender-based violence prevention and response efforts; and can best shape programs to address the issue of gender-based violence.

 

End.

 

 

 

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Humanitarian challenges in Somalia after the fall of Al Shabab

Posted by African Press International on November 10, 2012

MOGADISHU,  – After two decades of civil war, Somalia is finally seeing hope for lasting peace. After the August departure of Al-Shabab insurgents, thousands of p eople have returned to the capital, Mogadishu, looking to rebuild their lives, and in September, the election of a new president was widely viewed as the start of a new era for the country.
Below, IRINhighlights some of Somalia’s key health and socio-economic indicators, obtained from local experts and other sources, that will influence the country’s progress as it seeks to leave conflict behind.
Health infrastructure: Somalia faces numerous health challenges, central among them the absence of an effective national health system, according to former acting health minister Abdiaziz Sheikh Yusuf. After the 1991 overthrow of the former government, hundreds of doctors and nurses fled the country, and medical services were taken over by the private sector, the UN and NGOs. Under a new cabinet structure announced on 4 November, the health ministry will now fall under the Social Development Services Ministry, which will be led by Maryan Qasim. This new ministry will also cover education, youth and sports.
Malnutrition: At least 28 percent of Somalia’s population – some 2.12 million people – are currently food insecure, a drop from the peak of over 4 million people in 2011. An estimated 236,000 people are acutely malnourished and in need of specialized nutrition treatment, according to a 26 September Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit report.
While exact figures on national undernutrition prevalence are not available from the government, poor nutrition is recognized as a major problem. Lul Mohamud Mohamed, a Mogadishu-based paediatrician, told IRIN that malnutrition there is worsened by diseases such as measles.
Child mortality: Somalia ranks first in the world in under-five mortality, according to the UN Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) 2012 State of the World’s Children report. Children face poor healthcare coverage and quality, low immunization rates, high levels of malnutrition and frequent disease outbreaks.

Potable water: Only 30 percent of Somalia’s population has access to improved drinking water sources and only 23 percent has access to improved sanitation facilities, according to UNICEF’s report. While the government does not know the exact number of Somalis without access to clean drinking water, Yusuf, the former acting health minister, told IRIN that there are insufficient water wells in the country, describing this as one of the most important challenges facing the new government.
Refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs): Somalia continues to be the leading refugee source country in the Horn of Africa, mainly due to its insecurity. As of 31 October, over 1 million people had fled Somalia to neighbouring countries; about half of them are being hosted in Kenya, mainly in the eastern Dadaab camps. The rest of the refugees are spread out in countries such as Yemen, Ethiopia and Uganda, according to the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR). An estimated 1.36 million Somalis are internally displaced, mainly in the south-central regions. According to UNICEF, an estimated 27 percent of Somalia’s population (or about 2 million people), half of whom are children, remain in a state of humanitarian crisis.
Press freedom: The Committee to Protect Journalists has labelled Somalia one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Eighteen journalists having been killed there this year alone, and 20 others have been wounded in attacks, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists. The killings have been blamed on Al-Shabab militants, who still control many rural parts of south-central Somalia, although the insurgent group has yet to claim responsibility for the killings.

Women and politics: The constitution mandates women comprise 30 percent of Somalia’s parliament, but that number currently stands at only 15 percent. In the recently unveiled new cabinet, two of the 10 ministers announced were women: Qasim will be the new Social Development Services Minister, and Fauzia Yusuf Haji Aden will head the high-profile foreign ministry. The nominations have yet to be ratified by Somalia’s parliament.
Agriculture: Somalia has a land area of about 637,657sqkm, of which 70 percent is considered ‘agricultural land’, or land suitable for farming and pasture, according to World Bank data. But only 1.6 percent of the total land area is arable, according to Hussein Haji, an agricultural expert and the executive director of the Somali Agricultural Technical Group. And only 10 percent of arable land is currently being cultivated, with farmers in the sorghum- and maize-growing Bay and Bakool regions depending on rain-fed agriculture.
Haji estimates that agriculture contributes about 40 percent of Somalia’s Gross National Product; tomatoes, onions and sesame are some of Somalia’s cash crops, and cereal yields include wheat, rice, maize, barley, oats, rye, millet, sorghum, buckwheat and mixed grains harvested for dry grain only. But production is very low because farmers lack access to quality inputs and irrigation, Haji said. For example, from 2007-2011, the cereal yield in Somalia was 432kg per hectare of harvested land, compared to Austria’s 5,358kg and Ethiopia’s 1,674kg, according to World Bank data.
Livestock: Somalia has about 60 million heads of livestock, according to estimates from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. Somalia exports livestock, mainly goats, to the Arabian Peninsula, and the meat is also locally consumed. Raising livestock is the main economic activity in most central regions, as well as in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, in northeastern Somalia, and in the self-declared republic of Somaliland.
Fishing and tourism: Somalia has about 3,300km of coastline, which, if well utilized, could help improve the country’s economy. If Somali fishermen could access the right training and equipment, the country could feed itself, Mohamed Sheikh Ahmed, an economist and lecturer at the Mogadishu-based SIMAD University, told IRIN. Ahmed also noted the coastline could also be used to develop a tourism sector, as the country enjoys pristine beaches. “In some parts of the country, you can see forests almost mingling with the sea while camels graze nearby. This is beautiful and can be a tourist attraction, if utilized,” he said. Rampant insecurity, however, remains a major challenge.
Youth: The country has a significant youth population, with about 42 percent of Somalis being aged 14 to 29. But the youth are mainly idle; unemployment among them stands at a high of 67 percent – one of the highest such rates in the world, according to the 2012 UN Development Programme’s Somalia Human Development Report. Youth must be given opportunities, “as their exclusion, resentment and grievances are fuel for conflict escalation and risky behaviours,” the report says.
amd/aw/rz

source http://www.irinnews.org

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