Tag Archives: Somalia

Kenya-Somalia – Kenyatta in Mogadishu for IGAD summit

Daily Nation

 

President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives in Somalia for the 28th Igad Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government on September 13, 2016.

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 13 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives in Somalia for the 28th Igad Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government on September 13, 2016. PHOTO | PSCU
The summit is also attended by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia are among the countries with troops in Somalia.

President Uhuru Kenyatta today flew into the Somali capital Mogadishu to attend a special Igad summit.

President Kenyatta arrived at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu and was received by his host President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud.

This is the first visit to Somalia by a Kenyan Head of State in three decades.

President Kenyatta and President Mohamoud later held brief bilateral talks at a hotel near the airport ahead of the special Igad summit.

The summit, also attended by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, will discuss the progress Somalia has made towards entrenching security and stability.

Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia are among the countries with troops in Somalia.

US pushing for deployment of extra UN troops in South Sudan

Reuters

By Lesley Wroughton | NAIROBI

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he and regional states were committed to giving momentum to the planned deployment of extra U.N. troops to South Sudan and said the country’s leaders needed to recommit to a peace deal.

Fierce fighting in the capital Juba last month has raised fears that the five-year-old nation could slide back into civil war. It prompted the United Nations to authorise the deployment of 4,000 additional U.N. troops to bolster a U.N. mission there.

“We need to move forward with the deployment of a regional protection force,” Kerry told a news conference in Nairobi after talks with foreign ministers from Kenya and other African states that had focused on South Sudan and Somalia’s reconstruction.

Kerry said regional states, which have pushed for sending the new troops to help South Sudan’s 12,000-strong U.N. mission UNMISS, had agreed on “the immediate implementation process” of meetings and steps to “guarantee some momentum builds up.”

About two years of conflict that pitted troops loyal to President Salva Kiir against those of his former deputy Riek Machar was supposed to have ended with a peace deal last year. But fighting persisted and flared again last month in Juba.

After the latest violence, Machar, who had returned to the capital in April to resume his post as vice president, withdrew again to the bush and was picked up this month by U.N. peace keepers in Democratic Republic of Congo with a leg injury.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield attend bilateral talks with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, August 22, 2016.REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Kiir has again sacked him and appointed a new vice president.

Kerry said it was up to South Sudan’s leaders, political parties and neighbours to work out “what is best or not best with respect to Machar”, but all sides had to stop fighting.

“We urged all the parties to recommit in word and deed to the full implementation of the peace agreement,” Kerry said.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, speaking at the same news conference, said the new U.N. force should be deployed “sooner rather than later” but said it could be sent gradually.

South Sudan’s government initially said it would not cooperate with the new U.N. troops which will be under the command of the 12,000-strong UNMISS mission. But since then it has said it was still considering its position.

“We have not rejected it or accepted it. The sovereignty of the people of South Sudan will be decided by the parliament,” South Sudan’s presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said.

World powers and regional states have struggled to find leverage over South Sudan’s warring factions despite U.S. and European sanctions on some military leaders and African threats of punitive actions.

South Sudan secured its independence in 2011, but by December 2013 the longtime political rivalry between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Machar, a Nuer, had led to civil conflict that often followed ethnic lines.

The fighting has killed thousands of people and driven more than 2 million people from their homes, with many of them fleeing to neighbouring states.

Kerry, who pledged new humanitarian aid to South Sudan worth $138 million, said the new U.N. troop contingent was “not an intervention force” but would protect civilians and support those working to ensure peace prevailed.

In the latest flare-up in July, Washington was particularly concerned by an attack on a Juba hotel by uniformed men who killed a U.S.-funded journalist and raped civilians, including aid workers.

The U.N. has launched an investigation into accusations U.N. peace keepers in Juba failed to respond properly to the attack.

South Sudanese government officials say that just because the perpetrators were in uniform did not mean they were either under the command of the government or the opposition.

(Additional reporting by Denis Dumo in Juba; Editing by Edmund Blair and Dominic Evans)

Uganda – nine soldiers in AU force jailed over fuel racket

BBC

Three of the Ugandan soldiers who were jailed - 15 August 2016AMISOM The court martial was held at the Amisom headquarters in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu

Nine Ugandan soldiers serving as peacekeepers in Somalia have been jailed for running a fuel racket.

The African Union (AU) said they had been sentenced to between one year and three years by a Ugandan military court, which sat in Somalia.

The officers, including two majors, were arrested in a sting operation in June.

The AU mission is fighting alongside Somali government forces against al-Shabab Islamist militants.

It was the first time a military court connected to the AU mission (Amisom) had sat in Somalia since the troops were deployed nine years ago.

Correspondents say it was decided to do so as an attempt to show Somalia’s citizens that the Amisom force was being held to account.

A soldier has his pips removed as he is stripped of his rank after a trail which found him guilty of pursuing personal gain and endangering operational efficiency in Mogadishu, Somalia, on 15 August 2016AMISOM Some of the soldiers found guilty were also stripped of their ranks

The nine were among 18 soldiers arraigned before the court for selling fuel belonging to Amisom to civilians in the capital, Mogadishu, an Amisom statement said.

“The prosecution has proved all the accusations of pursuing personal interest and endangering operational efficiency beyond reasonable doubt,” it quoted Uganda’s Brig Gen Dick Olum as saying.

Three of the soldiers had also been “dismissed with disgrace from the army”, and would lose their benefits, it added.

Uganda is the highest troop contributor to the 22,000-strong Amisom force.

In June, the BBC also found that allowances paid to Amisom troops were being withheld because the European Union, which provides the funding, had accounting issues over a previous payment.

The deployment allowance is much more than the often meagre salaries the soldiers receive from their governments.

Somalia – Mogadishu hotel bomb

Reuters

Somali Islamist militants attack hotel in Mogadishu

Somalia’s al Shabaab Islamist group launched a suicide bomb attack on a hotel in the center of Mogadishu on Saturday before fighters stormed inside, police and the militant group said.

Police said at least 15 people had died, including guards at the site, civilians and militants. Others were wounded.

Gunfire had echoed round the seaside capital after the blast and ambulances raced to the scene. Police later said fighting had ended but they were searching the site for militants.

“We attacked the hotel which was frequented by the apostate government members,” al Shabaab military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters. He said at least 20 guards and civilians were killed.

Al Shabaab, which frequently carries out attacks in the capital in its bid to topple the Western-backed government, often gives casualty numbers that are higher than figures announced by officials.

Police said the initial blast was caused by a suicide bomber before fighters stormed into the Nasahablood hotel, leading to a heavy exchange of gunfire. Officers said some people had managed to escape through the rear of the building.

“The operation has now ended but we are still combing the building for any possible militants who are hiding,” Major Ali Mohamed, a police officer, told Reuters.

The United States and other Western countries have been among the biggest donors to the government in Mogadishu as it slowly rebuilds after years of conflict and prepares for parliamentary and presidential elections later this year.

“We strongly condemn this attack,” a U.S. State Department official said in a statement. “We remain committed to Somalia’s security and stability, and are proud to stand side-by-side with Somalia in the fight against terrorism.”

The vote planned for August will be by limited franchise rather than one-person-one-vote, which officials and diplomats say would be too difficult while still fighting an insurgency.

Muslims in Somalia and around the world are observing Ramadan. In previous years, al Shabaab has often intensified attacks during the fasting month, frequently picking targets where people gather just before or after breaking the fast.

(Additional reporting by David Lawder in Washington; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Jane Merriman)

View of vehicles parked near the scene of a suicide bomb attack outside Nasahablood hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, June 25, 2016.
REUTERS/FEISAL OMAR

Uganda – Museveni says troops will be out of Somalia by end of 2017

Reuters

Uganda plans to withdraw its troops from Somalia by December 2017, signalling it is scaling back regional military interventions after it said it planned a similar pullback from Central African Republic.

President Yoweri Museveni has intervened in several regional security hotspots, deploying troops to help quell unrest in Somalia, Central African Republic and South Sudan in recent years.

A staunch ally of the United States, Museveni has faced a groundswell of opposition at home since winning a disputed presidential election in February.

Uganda deployed in Somalia in 2007, the first of several troop contingents from the region in the African Union-mandated AMISOM force formed to combat al Shabaab Islamist militants, who had established a power base in the Horn of African country.

“Our plan that we have communicated to the African Union is that by December 2017 we want to be out,” Paddy Ankunda, Uganda military spokesman, told Reuters late on Thursday.

“So unless something major comes up that’s the time we want to come out of Somalia.”

Uganda accounts for about a third of the roughly 22,000-strong AMISOM force.

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for twin bombings in Kampala in 2010 that killed 76 people, which it called a punishment for Uganda’s troop deployment in Somalia. Although since pushed out of its strongholds, the group remains a potent and deadly threat.

Paddy declined to give a reason for the planned Somalia withdrawal, which followed a similar announcement two weeks ago concerning Central African Republic, where Ugandan troops have been helping track down fighters from the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group led by Ugandan Joseph Kony.

Museveni, who is widely expected to seek another term in 2021, won February’s ballot with 60 percent of the vote, a result rejected by his main rival Kizza Besigye.

Besigye has since been charged with treason and is currently in jail awaiting trial.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by John Stonestreet)

Somalia – war in Yemen damages prospects of camel traders

Al Jazeera

Somali camel traders pay the price of war in Yemen

With markets in the Middle East paralysed by war, Somali traders say their livelihoods are at risk of collapse.

Hamza Mohamed

Hamza Mohamed is a producer for Doha, Qatar-based Al Jazeera English, covering Sub-Saharan Africa.

SOMALIA’S CAMELS IN NUMBERS:

  • 2014 – Exported 77,000 camels
  • 2016 – Exported 2,000 camels
  • Globally – Estimated 14 million camels
  • Somalia – Estimated 7 million camels

(Source: FAO)

Elasha Biyaha, Somalia – It is Wednesday morning in a tea shop made of sticks and tarpaulin next to an expansive open air livestock market in the pop-up town of Elasha Biyaha, 16km southwest of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

A group of middle-aged men sit on plastic and wooden chairs, ears glued to a radio broadcasting the 9am news bulletin. The men are camel traders, and they are following the latest news from the wars in Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

The conflicts in these faraway countries have affected their trade and livelihoods badly. Business is slow and the traders say they barely make any money.

“Business was very good when our animals used to be taken abroad,” Musa Hassan told Al Jazeera, surrounded by camels chewing the cud under the morning sun. He has been in the business for more than 20 years.

Change of fortunes

The Horn of Africa country used to export millions of camels to these Arab countries each year but when the conflicts started, exports slowed. Then they came to a complete halt as the war in Yemen made it too risky to use the Yemeni sea to export the animals.

“The profit margins are better when the animals are taken abroad. People in those countries have more money and can afford to pay more for our camels,” Hassan explained.

In 2014, Somalia exported a record five million livestock to countries in the Gulf, the highest number of live animals exported from the east African country in more than two decades, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). That included 77,000 camels. This year, only 2,000 camels have left Mogadishu port, the largest port in the country.

Of the world’s estimated 14 million camels, Somalia, a country of some 10 million people, has more than seven million – the highest number in the world.

Livestock is the backbone of the Somali economy with more than 65 percent of the population engaged in some way in the industry, according to the FAO. Furthermore,World Bank figures indicate that the export of livestock and their products accounts for 80 percent of the country’s foreign exchange.

By the side of the market is a small stall selling cold drinks to traders and hawkers. Amina Noor, a mother of five, has worked at the market for five years and has seen the change in the market’s fortunes first-hand.

“Everything is slow. More animals used to be brought to the market. Traders used to have more money to spend. Now less of them come to the market and the animals at the market used to be a lot more than you see today,” said Noor, pointing at the herds of camels.

Somalia exported 77,000 camels in 2014 [Ahmed Farah/Al Jazeera]

The price of meat

With markets in the Middle East out of reach, traders are trying their luck at the local meat markets in Mogadishu. Thirty minutes’ drive from the livestock market in the Bulo Hubey area of the Somali capital is one such place. Customers flock here early in the morning to get the freshest cut before restaurants put in the day’s order.

But Abdiweli Mursal, a meat trader at the market, said they were not doing any better than the traders at the livestock market.

“Before, the market was better,” Mursal said, referring to the time exports were shipped almost daily out of Somalia. The money exporters made used to trickle down to everyone in the city, according to Noor.

“People had more money and they could afford to buy meat. The price of meat is still the same. Our business is connected to the general economy in the country which is not very good,” Mursal added.

The Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry agrees, and says that the economic consequences of the conflicts in Middle Eastern countries have already been felt in Somalia.

“Ships carrying camels were turned back from Yemen because of the ongoing conflict there. The stop in export has affected people badly. Hundreds of jobs have been lost and many more will be lost if exports don’t start again. Somalia is suffering because of wars elsewhere,” Abdi Abshir Dorre, director general of the Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Al Jazeera.

According to Dorre, the current plight of traders in the livestock industry is worse than that witnessed during the 2011 and 1993 drought that hit the country.

“Traders still have the running costs to pay. The animals need looking after. They require feeding and vaccinations, and all these things cost money. The livestock industry also determines the value of the dollar against the Somali shilling. And the value of the dollar determines everything in the market,” Dorre said.

Back at the livestock market, traders say they feel powerless and talk of their livelihoods being caught up in a fight they have nothing to do with.

“I’m a trader. I sell camels and that is the only thing I know anything about. I don’t know how or why the conflict started but I’m praying it ends so that our business goes back to its normal way,” Hassan, the camel trader, said.


R

Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa

Somalia-Kenya – Jubaland minister says Garissa attack mastermind killed

Star (Kenya)

WANTED: Mohammed Kuno.

WANTED: Mohammed Kuno.

The security minister in Somalia’s Jubaland region has confirmed that the suspected mastermind of the deadly assault on Kenya’s Garissa University College has been killed.

Mohamed Kuno was killed with four other people, Abdirashid Janan said at a media briefing in the Somali port city of Kismayo.

The Jubaland government had the bodies of the men, he added.

In 2015, the Kenyan-born mastermind of the massacre of 148 people in Garissa defected from al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab to a pro-ISIS faction, intelligence reports indicated.

Kuno alias Gamadhere, previously al Shabaab Lower Juba commander, joined the more extremist and violent faction in the last week of November.

Kuno defected with 1,200 fighters, who include Jaysh Ayman. They hid in Boni Forest in Kenya and the Ras-Kamboni areas in Somalia.

Victims of the April 2 terror attack on Garissa University College included 142 students.

Kenya had offered a $215,000 (Sh21.9 million) reward for any information that may lead to Kuno’s capture.

He is a close confidant of Sheikh Muumin, the self-declared Somali leader of an al Shabaab faction that joined an ISIS faction in Somalia.