Pontus Marine LTD- Leader of fishing industry in Somaliland

Friday, July 24, 2009

Eritrea: Volcanic Eruption on the Eritrean-Ethiopian Border

Eritrea: Volcanic Eruption on the Eritrean-Ethiopian Border
Geologists in the region report that a huge amount of lava has spewed in the remote volcanic complex in Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression bordering Eritrea.
According to the report, the eruptive activity has started since late June and the heat from the spewing lava was first detected by space-based thermal sensors.
The area is believed to be home to mainly nomadic herders. So far there have been three other eruptions of the Manda Hararo volcanic field since the first volcanic activities in modern times began there in August 2007. However, the Ethiopian News Service announced that the current eruption is being accompanied by dense plumes of sulphur dioxide gas.
According to the news, the eruption killed five people and hundreds of livestock and forced 50,000 nomads to flee, although there is no detail if the eruption has struck any of the nomadic herders in the area.
This active volcanic area is an extension of the East African Rift Valley, the oldest and best defined rift in the Afar region on the Eritrean-Ethiopian border.
The exact mechanism of the rift formation is still under debate among scientists.
Evidences suggest that the East African Rift System (EARS) assumes elevated heat flow from the asthenosphere (the liquid layer of mantle) is causing a pair of thermal “bulges” in central Kenya and the Afar region on the Eritrean-Ethiopian border.
It is believed that the EARS is one of the geologic wonders of the world, a place where the present tectonic forces could possibly create new plates by splitting apart old ones.
This post was written by: capitaleritrea

Somaliland Elections Signal Threats of a Media Clampdown

Approaching Somaliland Elections Signal Threats of a Media Clampdown
(Photo: Harheisa , the capital of Somaliland)
By Howard Lesser Washington, DC
24 July 2009
Tensions have been rising in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in the period leading up to an election campaign and a 27 September presidential vote. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is condemning recent media arrests and government banning orders on a radio and TV outlet.
CPJ warns that unless the courts dismiss the charges later this month and free two broadcast executives, a full-fledged crackdown by authorities may be gearing up in the breakaway territory.
“They see the independent press as being opposed to the president. And they’re afraid of any sort of criticism, so they’re trying to quash it down,” explained CPJ Africa program coordinator Tom Rhodes.
On 13 July, police in the capital Hargeisa arrested the director and news editor of private station Radio Horyaal on charges of inciting violence. The broadcasters continue to be held at the Criminal Investigation Department.
Clan violence broke out three days earlier after the station broadcast coverage of a land dispute between two clans, involving republic President Dahir Rayale Kahin and one of the republic’s two legislative bodies, a 25-member clan council known as the House of Elders. The CPJ’s Tom Rhodes claims the incitement charges, which try to connect the disturbances with sensationalized radio coverage lack substance.
“I believe this is a directive made by one individual. I wouldn’t want to blame the entire Somaliland for this directive. But it does give you the impression of how they view Radio Horyaal as an opposition radio and an enemy to the government,” he observed.
Somaliland is an autonomous region of the Somali republic, which declared independence from the Somali republic in 1991 after the dissolution of Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre’s government. It has succeeded in establishing trade ties with neighboring Ethiopia, but Hargeisa’s sovereignty has not been recognized by any countries around the world.
“Somaliland is quite sensitive to international opinion, largely because they want that recognition of independence. They’ve come a long way compared to the rest of the country (the Mogadishu-ruled Somali Republic) in establishing a working government and a working, viable system. And so whenever there is criticism, it jeopardizes their chances of actually reaching their status of independence,” Rhodes explained. He believes that domestic violence is a very sensitive issue for President Kahin since he represents one of the two clans in the current land dispute. The president was elected to his first five-year term in 2003, after assuming office the previous year on the death of Mohammad Hajj Ibrahim Egal. Presidential elections set for 31 August, 2008 had to be postponed until this September due to instability in Somaliland’s eastern regions.
CPJ is warning that as the elections approach, authorities are trying to silence critical reporting. Nine days ago, Judge Sheikh Hussein Warfa banned private radio and TV outlets HornCable in support of a petition by the country’s attorney general for reportedly inciting violence and spreading false information. The broadcaster has defied the ban and will attend a court hearing on July 28. Meanwhile, Britain and Sweden reportedly have threatened to withhold funds for September’s vote if Hargeisa cannot resolve a corruption dispute within the territory’s electoral commission.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Urgent Appeal for the Release of Radio Horyaal Journalists (Newsmen)

Urgent Appeal for the Release of Radio Horyaal Journalists (Newsmen)
On July 13, 2009, two Radio Horyaal Newsmen were picked by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Somaliland while conducting their routine news gathering and reporting functions at the radio station’s offices on Hargeisa, Somaliland . The two reporters, Mr. Mohamed Mire (Sayid) and Ahmed Suleiman (Dhuhul) continue to remain in detention without charge.
Radio Horyaal is an independent radio station that has a wide listener base in the Somaliland communities at home and aboard. The government, in its efforts, to stifle the free press and control the air waves has been actively weeding out all non-government controlled media by harassing and threatening independent media organizations, and arresting journalists, reporters and newsmen at will. These two highly respected reporters are the latest casualty of the war that the government of Somaliland has waged against the free press in Somaliland .
We demand from the Government of Somaliland to immediately release these two journalists who have not committed any crime but were merely performing their duties as journalists when they were arrested.
We, also, appeal to all human rights organizations that advocate for the protection of human rights, free press and freedom of expression to demand the release of these two reporters without any further delay from this unlawful detention.
Name: (On Behalf of Medeshi Group)
Editor and webmaster of Medeshi Media Group

London, United Kingdom
© News from the Horn of Africa
Appeal initiated by A. Arwo

East Africa gets high-speed web

East Africa gets high-speed web
The first undersea cable to bring high-speed internet access to East Africa has gone live.
The fibre-optic cable, operated by African-owned firm Seacom, connects South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique to Europe and Asia.
The firm says the cable will help to boost the prospects of the region's industry and commerce.
The cable - which is 17,000km long - took two years to lay and cost more than $650m.
Seacom said in a statement the launch of the cable marked the "dawn of a new era for communications" between Africa and the rest of the world.
The services were unveiled in ceremonies in the Kenyan port of Mombasa and the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam.
School benefits
The cable was due to be launched in June but was delayed by pirate activity off the coast of Somalia.
“ It's not good. It's hanging and keeps wasting time and frustrating me ” Kenyan internet user
The BBC's Ben Mwangunda in Dar es Salaam says five institutions are already benefiting from the faster speeds - national electricity company Tanesco, communications company, TTCL, Tanzania Railways and the Universities of Dar es Salaam and Dodoma.
The BBC's Will Ross in Nairobi says the internet revolution trumpeted by Seacom largely depends on how well the service is rolled out across the region.
To the disappointment of many consumers, our correspondent says some ISPs (internet service providers) are not planning to lower the cost of the internet, but instead will offer increased bandwidth.
But businesses, which have been paying around $3,000 a month for 1MB through a satellite link, will now pay considerably less - about $600 a month.
The Kenyan government has been laying a network of cables to all of the country's major towns and says the fibre-optic links will also enable schools nationwide to link into high quality educational resources.
But our correspondent says it is not clear whether the internet revolution will reach the villages, many of which still struggle to access reliable electricity.
Are you in Africa? How will the new broadband cable help you, or your business? Have slow internet speeds been holding you back? Have you noticed any difference in speed today? Send us your comments.
Here are some of your comments:
It's good news that we are getting the submarine cable. The last cable landed almost a month ago and we have not experienced any changes in the cost of prices and speed. Seems it will take a while for these changes to apply. Just hope its better this time. The speeds are hopelessly slow. Even watching YouTube is painfully slow Githaiga, Nairobi
Hopefully this means the website I want to create for my business can become a reality. Previous attempts have failed to lure foreign customers. They would give up half way through the online order process because the web pages would load so slowly. This was caused by the speed of the connections out of South Africa being too slow. I also run a website for a radio control car club where I would like to host video files of the races we have. Greg, Cape Town, South Africa
Whilst this is great news for everyone annoyed by slow internet connections, I am afraid to raise a few doubts: It is unlikely that fast internet connections are going to be available to users "up country" any time soon. This is because cables allowing such high traffic will have to be laid first, and then there's always the issue of electricity, which is so far restricted to larger towns and cities. However, here in Dar es Salaam I'm sure the change will bring great relief, as internet connections are especially slow in Tanzania's economic capital due to the high demand. Johannes, Dar es Salaam, TZ
Promises promises promises, but when will small inland towns like Gulu in northern Uganda enjoy the benefits of the long awaited data transfer fibre optic cables? I am spend too much time trying to send this comment. Is it about to change in the near future?Hopefully. Rachkara, Gulu, Uganda
I am a web developer in Nairobi and the new fibre optic initiative couldn't come at a better time. Currently, we have to worry about how interactive the websites we develop are due to slow access speeds and this limits the look and feel of our work to the users. Now however, I hope that with speed as a non-issue, everyone can enjoy the "work of our hands".... and brains of course! Stephen, Nairobi, kenya
The upgrading of internet services to the fast broadband will certainly boost online communication with the rest of the world. Especially for our school, located deep in the slums of Kawangware in Nairobi, and currently exchanging programmes with UK schools through the global gateway will be made easy. Several partner schools have left us due to poor communication records we have had with them. Through the broadband, we expect to heighten our communication with the, enabling our children to appreciate the world through interactions online. Pictures that have been a problem to download, will hopefully be quick to reach the outstretched hands! Simon, nairobi, kenya
This is very good and encouraging news to hear. I have been waiting for this for such a long time now and will now encourage me to move my business to Uganda very quickly. I am delightened that last it has arrived. Herrick, France
it has been holding us back like to make call in Tz when your in Rwanda it cost much even hearing each other become's problem. for internet cafe you can't watch live football or Music and BBC news. Sound's good for East Africa. Ivan, Kigali, Rwanda
I work in a college which offers some of the country's best diplomas (and we've just introduced a few degree courses, recently). However, poor internet connections have significantly hindered our activities and objectives of delivering "first class" education. It has not been easy to access online materials such as journals and books. Likewise, our students and colleges, at large, have always been failing to purchase books and other learning materials from various websites. I genuinely hope that this new technology will have positive impact on the development of African continent. Juma, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
This is going to change everything. Am anxiously waiting for it to reach Uganda. Congratulations SEACOM. Kyomuhendo, Fort Portal, Uganda
Maybe I'll finally be able to PvP as a normal human being in world of warcraft. Its really not fun trying to interrupt a 1.5 second heal with 1.49 seconds delay. Nick, Middelburg, South Africa
Very great start of a wonderful achievement. The effective development of the region and the whole Africa is coming from that way (The EASSY Cable). Sylvestre, Bujumbura&Burundi
The impact fast internet connection (broadband)will make on my business will be phenomenal. About 95% of my work is internet based because sometimes i am online to three people across two or more continents daily. It will make me more efficient and increase my output. Patrick, Lagos, Nigeria
This is fantastic for our business, There will be no more waiting for ages download and no more echo on voice. More savings for our business too. Victor, Nairobi Kenya
Living and working in the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, I can only envy the residents of the east coast of Africa. Here, we are still waiting for broadband. Those who have it have no choice but to sign up to an insanely expensive wireless relay system which is unreliable, slow and expensive. 80 pounds a month for a speed of 2Mb and a capped limit of a few Gb. The council don't care; they are too busy trying to stop ferries running on a sunday to bother with issues such as technology I need to earn a living. Maybe I should move my family to Somalia, which has entered the 21st century before here? Angus, North Uist, Outer Hebrides
Story from BBC NEWS:

Beshenivsky killer Mustaf Jama captured in secret Somalia operation

Beshenivsky killer Mustaf Jama captured in secret Somalia operation
Andrew Norfolk
A police killer who fled to a lawless region of one of the world’s most dangerous countries was captured and returned to Britain after a top-secret intelligence operation.
Mustaf Jama, who was found guilty yesterday of the murder of PC Sharon Beshenivsky during a bungled armed robbery in 2005, was the country’s most wanted man when he escaped on a false passport. For the next two years he lived under the protection of his powerful warlord family in a remote district of northern Somalia.
After months of intelligence-gathering, high-level diplomatic negotiations and an agreed “bounty” payment to cover the costs of the Somali authorities, a secret military operation was launched to capture the fugitive.
On an October morning in 2007 Jama was at the wheel of a Land Rover, accompanied by two young women, a gun and a large quantity of alcohol, when he approached what he thought was a routine roadblock. When the vehicle came to a halt, it was surrounded by 15 armed soldiers.
Jama was seized and taken to a secure compound, where he was held under guard overnight. The next day he was taken to an airfield where a six-seater executive jet was waiting.
Although the pilot thought Jama must be an al-Qaeda terror suspect and initially refused to take him, the killer, escorted by Somali guards, was flown to Dubai to be met by five West Yorkshire police officers. After spending the night at an airport detention centre, Jama was placed on a scheduled flight to Heathrow.
At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday he was jailed for life for his role in the fatal shooting outside a Bradford travel agency. Jama, who will serve a minimum of 35 years, was one of three armed robbers who burst from the premises as two unarmed women police officers approached.
The robbers opened fire and PC Beshenivsky, 38, who was married with three children and two step-children, was hit in the chest at close range. She died almost instantly. PC Teresa Milburn was shot and wounded.
Jama, who admitted robbery but denied murder, claimed during his trial that he did not know that his accomplices were carrying guns. Yesterday’s conviction followed a retrial after an earlier jury failed to reach a verdict.
Mr Justice Openshaw said that Jama belonged to “a team of dangerous and ruthless men” whose actions led to two police officers paying “a terrible price” for doing their duty.
Jama’s younger brother, Yusuf, and Muzzaker Shah are already in jail for the murder, each with minimum 35-year sentences. A further three men received sentences ranging from eight years to life for their roles in the robbery. The five men were convicted at earlier trials.
Detective Superintendent Andy Brennan, who led the murder inquiry and the international hunt for Jama, had vowed to track down the wanted man. Fulfilling his promise involved lengthy and delicate negotiations between the police, intelligence agencies, the British Government and war-torn Somalia’s Federal Transitional Government. The two countries have no extradition treaty.
After two foiled attempts, the West Yorkshire force finally received accurate intelligence about Jama’s whereabouts in the breakaway northern region. The roadblock operation was dangerous because the Jama family wields local influence. Jama’s father is a cousin of Mohamed Siad Barre, the former President, who seized power in 1969 and headed a brutal regime until he was toppled in 1991.
Jama was 12 when he was brought to Britain with his mother and two siblings by a Kenyan people-trafficker in 1993. By 2005 he had 21 criminal convictions, including three robberies.
On his return to Britain, Jama challenged his extradition. The appeal was dismissed, but a court order prevented the reporting of the extradition until the conclusion of the murder trial.
Mr Brennan said that Jama “thought he was untouchable” in Somalia. “Our determination to arrest and convict all those involved in the murder of Sharon Beshenivsky has been resolute. No matter where they were, we were going to find them and bring them to justice.”
Piran Ditta Khan, 60, believed to be the architect of the botched robbery, remains at large, possibly in Pakistan.

Illness in Somalia kills 3 peacekeepers

Illness in Somalia kills 3 peacekeepers
Thu Jul 23, 2009
By Frank Nyakairu
NAIROBI (Reuters) - Three Burundian peacekeepers based in Somalia have died from an unknown illness and 18 more are in a Kenyan hospital with the same symptoms, an African Union (AU) official said on Thursday.
There are some 4,300 soldiers from Burundi and Uganda in Somalia's capital defending key sites and helping government forces fight off regular attacks from hardline insurgents with links to al Qaeda.
"The African Union and the Burundian government have dispatched a team of medical experts to ascertain what has caused an illness in a Burundian contingent," said Gaffel Nkolokosa, spokesman for the AU envoy to Somalia.
"Twenty-one soldiers were evacuated earlier this week after exhibiting similar symptoms and three of those have since died," he said, declining to speculate on the cause of the illness or what the symptoms were.
Somalia's transitional government is hemmed into a few blocks of the capital Mogadishu by rebels bent on toppling President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and imposing their own harsh version of sharia law throughout the country.
Western nations fear that if the al Shabaab group, and the foreign fighters within its ranks, seize control of Somalia, they could destabilise neighbouring countries and train militants to launch attacks elsewhere.
While al Shabaab controls much of southern and central Somalia, the presence of AU troops has effectively led to a military stalemate in the capital with neither side able to deliver a knock out blow.
At least 15 people were killed and 53 wounded in heavy fighting in three districts of Mogadishu that started late on Wednesday and continued on Thursday morning, according to Ali Muse from the Life Line ambulance service.
Residents said the insurgents attacked positions held by government soldiers and AU peacekeepers.
An estimated 223,000 people have fled Mogadishu since May 7, when fighting erupted between government troops and al Shabaab.

Resource battle kills 20 in north Kenya

KENYA: Resource battle kills 20 in north
ISIOLO, 23 July 2009 (IRIN) - Large numbers of security forces have been deployed to a town in northern Kenya after 20 people died in July alone during clashes.
Tensions over water and pasture during a drought in the surrounding arid rangelands unusually spilled over into extensive rioting in the town of Isiolo on 18 July.
Politically exploited ethnicity plays a part, observers say, as four ethnic groups have made two, possible temporary, rival alliances.
( A pastoralist's home on the outskirts of Isiolo town: Tensions over water and pasture during a drought in the area led to rioting in Isiolo town on 18 July - file photo)
Local politicians have pointed a finger at an uneven distribution of arms to "reservists" by the government as inflaming the situation.
Samburu, Turkana and Borana leaders, including Samburu East Member of Parliament Raphael Letimalo, urged the government to seize some 300 guns issued to herders in Isiolo three months ago, saying the weapons were being used in raids against other communities.
An official of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) said hundreds of those displaced urgently needed food and medicine and were living in deplorable conditions in Isiolo town.
"Kenya Red Cross Society has provided first-aid services and distributed some blankets to children in the [temporary] camps; the affected families, however, need food and medical assistance," Titus Mung'ou, the KRCS communications manager, told IRIN.
Mung'ou said the temporary camps lacked water and adequate sanitation facilities, adding that local aid agencies and the government had initiated plans to assist and resettle the displaced.
At least 1,700 families were displaced in villages near Isiolo town following the fighting between the Borana and Somali communities on the one hand, and the Samburu and Turkana communities on the other.
The fighting was mainly at a grazing area in Gambella Location, 10km north of Isiolo. The field is trust land, stretching across Isiolo and Meru North district.
According to the KRCS, another 200 families – pastoralists and crop farmers - have been displaced in the neighbouring Meru region.

The displaced families have been camping at Isiolo police station and a livestock marketing centre nearby, known as LMD. Others have sought refuge at the Ngaremara Church and in the villages of Kambi ya Juu and Cecheles, all on the outskirts of Isiolo town. Others have moved in with relatives and friends in town.
Staying put
Despite the heavy presence of security personnel, a number of the displaced told IRIN they would not leave their temporary camps until the dispute was completely resolved.
Mohamed Noor, a livestock owner and trader, said the fighting had forced pastoralists to flee the area towards Isiolo town with at least 20,000 livestock. "We cannot get grass for our animals, those of us who were farming are now begging for food as we cannot access our farms,” he said.
Marius Tum, the Isiolo police commander, said on 21 July that hundreds of security personnel drawn from across the district and other parts of the country had been deployed to all the villages around Isiolo town. He said their presence defused tension and families had started returning to their farms.
However, Tum said the police had started investigating reports that some politicians were fuelling the fighting. "The fighting was first triggered by the current drought but it seems somebody or a certain group of people are inciting these communities to continue fighting; it will not be accepted," Tum said.
Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict [ENDS]

Somaliland Cracking Down On Independent Media

Somaliland Cracking Down On Independent Media - Watchdog
Media freedom watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday condemned a growing crackdown on independent media by authorities of Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland.
Two journalists of private Radio Horyaal were detained and a television station banned from broadcasting last week on accusation of inciting violence, the group said in a statement.
"As the September elections approach, it appears the Somaliland authorities are attempting to silence critical reporting," said Tom Rhodes, CPJ's Africa coordinator.
Somalia is one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists. Media houses have been routinely shut down by the authorities and many reporters, Somali and foreign, have been kidnapped by armed groups.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eritrea’s entry changes face of Somalia conflict

Eritrea’s entry changes face of Somalia conflict Tuesday, 21 July 2009
By Obed K. Katureebe
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Why does America expect 4,000 AU troops to do what 38,000 UN troops failed to do?
An AU armoured vehicle patrols the streets of Mogadishu.Sometime in late February 1995, 2,400 Pakistani and Bangladeshi peacekeepers made the now famous amphibian retreat from the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
They were the last of 38,000-strong UN peacekeeping force from 21 countries sent in to save Somalia from war and famine in 1992.
As they retreated three years later, there was no peace to keep as Somali warring faction continued to battle for control of Mogadishu.
In fact, to provide cover for the retreating peacekeepers, the United States, Italy, France, Britain and Malaysia assembled a force of 14,000 troops.
The force arrived on 32 ships and camped off the Somalia coast for at least a week before moving in.
The Americans had retreated earlier in 1993, after 18 Americans were killed in fighting with Somali-warlord Gen. Mohamed Farrah Aidid that October, and the body of a dead American soldier was dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.
America turned over the Somalia mission to the UN and emphasis shifted from humanitarian work to reconstruction as a way of helping restore a government in Somalia. That effort failed and the UN also ended its mission.
Somalia has been racked by violence since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991.
Almost two decades later, the government of Uganda forces (UPDF) under the auspices of the African Union has sent in 3,500 peacekeepers. They have been joined by forces from Burundi. Africa’s biggest peacekeeper, Nigeria promised 850 forces but reneged.
Flagging off the Ugandan forces, President Yoweri Museveni sounded realistic.

President Yoweri Museveni“We will not go to Somalia to impose peace on the Somalis, because we shouldn’t do that and we can’t do it,” President Museveni said to his troops, “What we are going to do in Somalia is to empower our Somali brothers to rebuild their state.”
But by mid-this July, reports from Mogadishu were indicating that the AU peacekeepers were floundering in their mission - to defend Mogadishu port, the airport, key government buildings, and Sharif Ahmed, the Somalia president, who is struggling to take control over the Horn of Africa nation from the fighters bent on overthrowing his western-backed government.
Media reports claimed that the Al-Shabaab fighters and other anti-government groups control swathes of southern and central Somalia and have cornered and restricted the AU and government troops in just a few blocks of Mogadishu.
The AU denies it, but Somali government officials and witnesses say the AU has finally relinquished its neutral, defensive mandate and is becoming more offensive.
“Amisom [the peacekeeping force] backed us up in this latest operation because the rebels were only one kilometre to the presidential palace,” a Somali official said.
But AMISOM Spokesman, UPDF Maj. Barigye Bahoku denies it. He is quoted by Al Jazeera: ““We have not been engaged [in fighting]. (So) we moved in, we showed force and we went back to the base and the government forces are continuing with their work.”
All these developments raise the question: can Uganda and the AU, do with 3,500 soldiers, what the UN failed to do with 38,000?
Troop numbers matter.

Eritrean President Isaias AfewerkiThat is why Somali President Sharif has shuttled from Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia begging for more troops.
The AU pledged 8,000 troops but there are only about 3,500 in Mogadishu. They are too few and too over-stretched.
Initial indications were that no countries were offering any new forces. But that could change soon. America has joined the hunt for more troops for Somalia and has reportedly offered to pay for the deployment.
So Somalia Prime Minister Abdirashid Ali’s claim last week, that troops from Nigeria, Djibouti, Rwanda, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Ghana could enter Mogadishu soon might not be too far-fetched.
Indeed, UPDF Chief of Staff Brig. Robert Rusoke told The Independent on July 14 that AU is reviewing means of sending more troops to Somalia.
“We have no scheduled time to leave Somalia. We shall leave when we are convinced that there is total peace and a sound government in place,” said Brig. Rusoke.
But forces opposed to the Somali government are also marshalling more support. The Somali government claims the fighting has been joined by Islamic fundamentalist fighters from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen.

AU troops patrol the streets of Mogadishu. After a bout of recent fighting, the government showed the body of a fighter it said was an Afghan national fighting with Hizbul Islam, an umbrella opposition group led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.
They claimed to have captured other fighters from Pakistan and Yemen.
Highly placed security sources told The independent that Eritrean prisoners of war who are now in the custody of AU forces confessed that they belonged to a big force which was sent by the Eritrean government to assist Al Shabaab to rid Somalia of all foreign forces.
Be that as it may, Brig. Rusoke says the United Nations would soon take over the mandate of the Somalia peace mission. The UN was supposed to take over the AMISOM after six months in operation but it has not.
On July 14, the AU begged for international support for the transitional federal government of Somalia (TFG). AU Special Representative to Somalia Nicolas Bwakira, made the impassioned appeal at the two-day Joint AU, IGAD and UN Political Office for Somalia Technical/Experts Meeting on Capacity Building Support to Somalia in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. The UPDF Commander of the Land Forces, Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, who oversees the Somalia operation, was in Nairobi for this meeting.

Ammunition captured from the insurgents.Before that, the UN Security Council on July 9 slapped sanctions on the government of Eritrea for her alleged involvement in the Somalia conflict.
Eritrea, which is said to support insurgents in the Ogden region against the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, is allegedly bolstering Al-Shabaab’s firepower and inflicting a heavy price on the AU forces.
On July 11, the UPDF contingent in Mogadishu lost three soldiers during the intensive fighting when the insurgents shelled the presidential palace with mortars. Sources in Mogadishu also said 15 UPDF troops had been critically wounded in the fighting although the Ugandan army spokesman Maj. Felix Kulayigye last week acknowledged only one wounded.
In another incident, an AMISOM source in Mogadishu told The Independent from Mogadishu that a few weeks back, two UPDF soldiers died instantly when insurgents lobbed a grenade into their vehicle at Shakala detach, injuring 13 others.
As if to show that they rule Mogadishu, the Al Shabaab showed mode of justice when they held a ceremony in the capital, in which they chopped off a hand and foot from each of four men convicted of stealing mobile phones and other items.
They are said to be just 2 kilometers from capturing the Presidential Villa.
Enter America

The AU Burundi contingent arrives in Mogadishu.That is why a ceremony held at the Kasenyi military training school in Entebbe on June 16 is significant.
At the ceremony, 134 UPDF soldiers completed the sixth military-to-military counter terrorism course conducted by the United States of America Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).
“This training is an excellent example of how Uganda and the United States government work together to promote peace and stability,” said US Army Colonel Matthew Grays, CJTF-HOA joint civil-military operations director.
The US has been training the Ugandan army for years and although his star may be fading, President Museveni has for years been an important US ally.
As a result, Uganda has thrived on American aid. In return, Uganda has provided America with critical military support, especially intelligence on the Great Lakes region.
Museveni’s latest assignment on behalf of America might be to provide more boots on the ground in Somalia. The Kasenyi ceremony is important because those UPDF graduates could be headed to Somalia.
Already, as the Washington Post and the Voice of America reported on June 27, the US government had in the previous six weeks provided about 40 tons of weapons and ammunition to shore up the besieged government of Somalia and has sent funding to train Somali soldiers.
The report was attributed to a senior State Department official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity and said the military aid, worth about $10 million (approx. Shs 20 billion), had been approved by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the US National Security Council.
“We do not want to see Somalia become a safe haven for foreign terrorists,” the official said.
The story said the US government has asked the UPDF to give Somali soldiers small arms and ammunition. The US government is then resupplying the Uganda.
The US government will also help pay for the Kenyan, Burundi and Ugandan militaries to train Somali soldiers, and is providing logistical support for the AU troops.

Lt. Gen. Katumba addresses Ugandan AU troops in Somalia. It added that Clinton calls Somalia’s president to consult on the crisis.
Such high profile intervention by the US has renewed speculation about motives beyond merely humanitarian.
The Somalia fighting has killed 250 civilians and forced more than 160,000 people to flee their homes in June alone.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Somalia are estimated at over one million in a country of eight million. They lack food, emergency relief supplies, and essential health, shelter, and water, sanitation and hygiene services.
The US has been a leading donor of humanitarian assistance to Somalia, with more than US$156 million in FY 2006 - 2007, and US$74 million in FY 2008.
Somalia oil
However, a statement attributed to the Association of American Petroleum Geologists claims that based on published and unpublished data, the geology of Somalia, “proves that oil and gas have been generated with favorable reservoirs, as well as structural and stratigraphic traps. Moreover, continuation of these basins across the gulf, matching the hydrocarbon-producing Marib-Hajar and Say’un-Al Masila basins of Yemen, raises the hydrocarbon prospect of northern Somalia.”
A 1993 story in the Los Angeles Times claimed that four major US oil companies; Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips, had been allocated nearly two-thirds of Somalia in the final years before Somalia’s pro-US President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991.
Significantly, when the US government in February 2007 announced a presidential directive to establish a unified combatant command called African Command (AFRICOM), analysts immediately zeroed on the growing interest in protecting for itself the newly found Africa oil and gas fields as the motive.
War on Terror
But America also worries about Somalia breeding the next Al-Qaeda terrorists.
At the height of the early 2009 attacks on ships by Somali pirates, a story in the Washington Post reported that defense officials had recommended pre-emptive strikes against Al Shabaab training camps “based on the potential threat the group poses to American interests.”
At the time, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested to “improve governance and economic stability”.
Before AFRICOM in 2002, CENTCOM’s Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) began establishing a permanent 1,500 troops forward operating base at Camp Lemonier, an old French Foreign Legion base in Djibouti, using the pretext of the War on Terror.
Its mission is to detect, disrupt, raid, and defeat transnational Al-Qaeda groups suspected to be operating in the region, especially in Somalia.
Such bases give the US strategic control of the maritime zone through which a quarter of the world’s oil production passes and is in proximity to the Sudanese oil pipeline.
In addition to Djibouti, there are prominent forward-operating bases located in Kenya, Ethiopia (two of the nations identified as regional anchors in the NSS), and Uganda, geographically situated near both the southern edge of Sudan (the part where most of the oil is) and the resource-rich, highly-prized Great Lakes region.
Great expectations
Analysts say that although, Ethiopia’s Zenawi and President Museveni have accepted top be America’s footmen in Somalia, they need to pay attention to a December 2006 Report to Members of the US Committee on Foreign Relations that read: “One Central African country in particular illustrates the need for State Department perspective and guidance to temper Defense Department enthusiasm. The country is unstable, desperately poor, and run by a repressive government that is being challenged by a persistent armed resistance. Desperate for a military strong enough to protect it from the rebels, the government has signed an Article 98 agreement, exempting US military personnel from International Criminal Court procedures and thus enabling it to receive military assistance. It has also signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States. With extensive “under-governed spaces” as potential terrorist havens and bordering countries with equally uncertain futures, the country was termed “a model country for security assistance” by the regional combatant command. Civilian embassy officials, however, are demonstrably less keen. They question the rate at which military programs are rapidly escalating and the sizable and still growing presence of U.S. military personnel in-country. A US-labeled backpack, observed on a government soldier undergoing US training, underscored for SFRC staff the potential complications of a too-close association with the country’s military. It would be a major setback if the United States were to be implicated in support of operations shoring up the repressive regime, regardless of the stated intent of such training.
The “central African country” was not named. It could be Ethiopia or Uganda.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Police raid Ethiopian, Eritrean refugees in Sudanese capital

Police raid Ethiopian, Eritrean refugees in Sudanese capital
Tuesday 21 July 2009
July 20, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese Police are reported to have began a series of crackdown on the neighborhood of Ethiopian and Eritrean refugee communities in the capital, Khartoum.
Since July 5, truckloads of Sudanese police along with government security forces have raided homes and refugees-owned business centers of hundreds of Ethiopians and Eritrean refugees confiscating properties of their restaurants and homes.
Some refugees on condition of anonymity said that some women and children were beaten and raped by members of the joint force.
UNHCR protection officer in Khartoum Teresa Ongaro confirmed to VOA that there was a series of raids of "refugees and illegal workers over the weekend." But the UN officer said that she has not heard any reports of police raping women and children.
There are about 30 thousand refugees in Khartoum and about 100 thousand in Eastern Sudan bordering Eritrea.
Many go to Khartoum to find a better life, but are exposed occasionally to ill treatment. She said UNHCR personnel and lawyers have interviewed 314 victims of the recent raid, and determined that 91 fit the UNHCR qualifications for refugees. She said these refugees were freed the next day.
The refugees say more than 50 have already been deported.
Similarly, southern Sudanese authorities are carrying out crackdown in all the Southern Sudan’s ten states, targeting illegal immigrants whose influx has now been blamed on the worsening insecurity in the region.
Local authorities have blamed a number Kenyan refugees for increased insecurity in the region, most of whom are perceived to be part of several heavily armed gangs that have been terrorizing residents of Juba city and its environs especially at night.
Last month, the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) directed security agents to firmly deal with rising cases of insecurity that have also seen a number of foreigners lose their lives in attacks by gangs.

SUDAN: The deadly cycle of cattle-raiding

SUDAN: The deadly cycle of cattle-raiding
AKOBO, 21 July 2009 (IRIN) - Tutlow Ruot has yet to come to terms with the death of his two children, who drowned in a river as his village fled an attack by cattle raiders from the Murle community.
(River Pibor has not seen much traffic ever since the 12 June attack by armed men on a WFP flotilla. Boats have since remained idle)
“They attacked us at 5am, burnt our tukuls [houses], killed some people, especially women and children, and took our cattle,” he said. “My three- and four year-old children could not swim and were carried away by the Pibor River.”
The 18 April attack on the Lou Nuer in Nyandit and other payams (sub-divisions) of Jonglei State of Southern Sudan was one of the bloodiest and most coordinated Murle attacks in recent times, according to aid workers.
About 16,000 people were displaced, 17 villages destroyed, 28 children and some women abducted and a school burnt in Nyandit. An inter-agency assessment conducted by the Sudanese government, NGOs and UN found that by 22 April, 250 victims had been buried.
The International Medical Corps treated at least 40 injured, including eight children under 10, for bullet wounds.
“It was a revenge attack,” Peter Yien Jal, administrative officer for the Nile Hope Development Foundation (NHDF) NGO said. “But it was the first time in the history of the Lou Nuer and Murle clashes that so many women and children were killed or abducted.”
The Sudan People’s Liberation Army boosted its presence in Akobo after the raid, but almost three months later, many of the displaced people are still afraid to return home.

Tradition versus revenge
Violent clashes between the Lou Nuer and the Murle, and Lou Nuer and Jikany of Nassir County, had subsided after the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended war between Southern and Northern Sudan, locals in Akobo said.
They were often triggered by cattle raids and disputes over grazing pasture and water, according to aid workers. However, in recent years, said observers deployed by the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS): “The conflicts have become politicized”, fuelled by small arms.
“Cattle raiding is part of the culture in some of the communities here,” a UNMIS official said. “But politics and weapons have become factors. There is an intricate web and network of supply of small arms, like AK47 rifles. It is like an arms race between these communities.”
According to the Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based NGO, gun possession “has become a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood” among the communities in this region.
The April raid could be traced to earlier events, according to John Ter, Akobo County information officer. In February, the Murle raided some cows belonging to three Lou Nuer chiefs in Akobo west.
On 18 March, Lou Nuer youths carried out a revenge raid on Lekuongole in Pibor County. According to the Southern Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC), more than 450 people were killed, 133 children went missing and 5,000 people fled their homes.
A month later, the Murle struck, attacking Nyandit and Deng Jok simultaneously. Then the Lou Nuer attacked Torkech in Nassir on 8 May, leaving 71 dead.
“All sides have guns - the Lou, Murle and Jikany,” an aid worker in Akobo said, “The interesting thing is the communities are neighbours … [and inter-marry].”
Another attack by the Jikany Nuer on boats carrying food aid in Nassir occurred on 12 June “to punish their enemies, the Lou Nuer”, a source said. That attack forced the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to suspend food deliveries to Akobo by boat.
“The boats were carrying supplies to our enemies,” a Jikany youth, Peter Gatwech, who was recovering from bullet wounds at Nassir hospital, told IRIN.
The attack on the WFP boats prompted Human Rights Watch to warn on 21 June that the violence across Southern Sudan could intensify in coming months.
Simon Buony, NHDF education project manager, said the pastoralist nature of the communities was a catalyst. The Anyuak, neighbours to the Murle, had not suffered as many attacks because they had adopted more settled farming lifestyles, he added.
(Wounded gunmen from the Jikany Nuer tribe recover from surgery for at a hospital in Nasir, Upper Nile state. The men took part in an attack on a UN food aid convoy on the Sobat river)
Land and disarmament
The conflict between the Lou Nuer and the Jikany has also been fuelled by land disputes, especially after returnees started heading back home following the CPA, UNMIS observers said.
From December 2005 to May 2006, the Lou Nuer were partially disarmed by the government, yielding over 1,400 rifles, machine guns and other weapons. Later, however, they realized the Murle had not handed in their weapons.
“The Lou found themselves exposed and re-armed,” an UNMIS observer said. “Then you have the Jikany, who distrust both the government and the Lou.”
Ruot said the Lou also did not trust the Jikany because the latter did not want them to settle in Nyandit. “Even if we decided to go home, the fighting will still be there,” he told IRIN at the makeshift camp in Akobo peace conference centre, where he was living with a wife and six other children.
To safeguard their remaining livestock, the Lou Nuer have moved most of their remaining herds to communal grazing grounds east of Akobo, guarded by armed youth.
A local resident in Akobo said comprehensive disarmament could reduce the violence between communities. “Without a gun, you cannot easily kill,” local trader Deng Gony said. “The solution is total disarmament.”
There is, however, one challenge, according to the Small Arms Survey. The CPA has provisions for the disarmament and demobilization of armed groups, but provides little guidance on disarming civilians.
“There are clear grounds for concern about the security situation in and around the city of Malakal, eastern Jonglei and the Sobat River corridor,” David Gressly, UNMIS Coordinator for Southern Sudan, told reporters in Khartoum on 8 July.
Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict [ENDS]

SOMALIA: UN suspends operations in Baidoa, compounds looted

SOMALIA: UN suspends operations in Baidoa, compounds looted
NAIROBI, 21 July 2009 (IRIN) - The UN has suspended humanitarian operations in Somalia's southwestern town of Baidoa following the looting of its compound there, an official told IRIN on 21 July.
"We are still assessing the longer-term implications of the [militia] statements and actions and we are trying to re-engage but we have temporarily suspended humanitarian operations in Baidoa as our radio equipment was looted," Rozanne Chorlston, the acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, said.
Members of the Islamist Al-Shabab militia group, which has been fighting government troops in the capital, Mogadishu, looted equipment and vehicles from the UN compound in Baidoa on 20 July and also raided the UN office in Wajid, 340km northwest of the capital.
Baidoa is the seat of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) led by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who was elected president in February at a parliamentary meeting in Djibouti. Al-Shabab has since waged a war against the government, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more.
After the looting of the UN compounds, Al-Shabab broadcast a message on local Somali radio, calling for the closure of the offices of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS) and the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), which it said supported the TFG and the African Union Mission in the country (AMISOM).
In a statement issued on 20 July, Bénédicte Walter, the UN spokesperson, said: "In Baidoa, the looting of all emergency communication equipment and the lack of security officers makes it impossible for the UN as a whole to continue its operations. We deeply regret having to relocate staff and temporarily suspend our operations in Baidoa. We are expecting authorities to reconsider these decisions and allow us to address the critical humanitarian situation in Baidoa and its region."
Walter said operations in Wajid, "where the minimum security conditions are unchanged", will continue.
"Al-Shabab members visited the WFP [World Food Programme] compound in Wajid for a meeting. They took away two cars and some furniture that were not WFP property," the statement read.
Walter said the UN was optimistic that minimal conditions on the ground would be restored to allow the critical humanitarian work to resume in Baidoa and continue elsewhere in Somalia.
Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict [ENDS]

Kenya, Sudan to import power from Ethiopia

Kenya, Sudan to import power from Ethiopia
NATION Correspondent
Posted Tuesday, July 21 2009
Sudan's national Electric agency is set to buy power from Ethiopia early next year after grid installation was completed last week.
Mr Saddiq Haroun, manager of the Ethiopia- Sudan power linkage project, told the Nation that a 157km power grid installation was done from Gedarif region of Sudan to Ethiopian west border.
The entire project will cost $35 million and India's Import export Bank is to provide $25 million as loan to the Sudanese government.
The power grid consists of 400 towers which have a capacity of carrying 220KV.
Ethiopia is set to generate 4000 megawatts of electricity in the coming one year, which is double the national consumption.
Ethiopia has an agreement to export hydroelectric power, 200 Megawatts to Djibouti, 500 megawatts to Kenya and 200 megawatts to Sudan.
Currently, Ethiopia faces a serious power shortage and has been forced to ration power
After every one day there has been no power service all over the country, since last May 2009.
Ethiopia is building more than five big hydro-electric dams including the controversial Gibe 3 which is said to affect the flow of water from Ethiopia's Omo River to Lake Turkana in Kenya.

France could use force to free Somalia hostages

France could use force to free Somalia hostages
Tue Jul 21, 2009
PARIS – France's foreign minister says the country doesn't rule out sending commandos to try to free two French security advisers held hostage in Somalia.
Bernard Kouchner says the two men are being held separately, apparently by two different militant groups.
The men were seized July 14 in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, while on an official mission to help train Somalia's security forces, which are fighting Islamist militiamen.
Asked whether France could send troops to try to free the hostages, Kouchner said Tuesday that Somalia's government has not requested such help but that "nothing is ruled out."
He says "the priority is for negotiations."
A rebel group has said the two would be tried under Islamic law for alleged spying.

Somalia Tops 'Failed States' -- 'Too Failed' For al-Qaida

Somalia Tops 'Failed States' -- 'Too Failed' For al-Qaida
By Laura Conaway
Of the 10 foundering nations on the Foreign Policy's latest Failed States Index, seven are in Africa, two are the scenes of U.S.-led wars and the remaining one has been cited among America's worst nightmares.
(A young fighter shows the wound he got battling Somali government forces on July 13. Mohamed Dahir/AFP/Getty Images)
Topping the list (and amazing map), again, is Somalia, which Foreign Policy notes was too rough a neighborhood even for al-Qaida:
A recent report by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center, drawing on captured al Qaeda documents, revealed that Osama bin Laden's outfit had an awful experience trying to operate out of Somalia, for all the same reasons that international peacekeepers found Somalia unmanageable in the 1990s: terrible infrastructure, excessive violence and criminality, and few basic services, among other factors. In short, Somalia was too failed even for al Qaeda.
After the jump, the 10 most failed states.
(Thanks to the Daily Dish for the link.)
Foreign Policy considers aspects of national life ranging from "demographic pressures" and "economic decline" to "human rights" and "factionalized elites." The top 10 failed states, with their index figures:
Somalia, 114.7
Zimbabwe, 114
Sudan, 112.4
Chad, 112.2
Democratic Republic of Congo, 108.7
Iraq, 108.6
Afghanistan, 108.2
Central African Republic, 105.4
Guinea, 104.6/li>
Pakistan, 104.1

Monday, July 20, 2009

Somaliland's addict economy

Somaliland's addict economy
By Tristan McConnell GlobalPost/Pulitzer Center - GlobalPost
Published: July 17, 2009
AHARGEISA, Somaliland — Somalia’s economy is dominated by trade in khat, a narcotic banned in the U.S. and much of Europe.
(Photo from Medeshi archives)
Eye-popping, head-buzzing khat is loved by Somali men who chew the leaves for their stimulant effect. While most of war-torn Somalia's economy is moribund, khat does a bustling trade estimated at well over $50 million annually. Doctors warn, however, that the drug is not only a drain on limited Somali resources but is also destroying lives.
Hargeisa is the capital of Somaliland, the northern territory nominally independent from Somalia which maintains peace and economic activity, especially the khat trade.
Lounging on a rug on the second floor of an ostentatious glass and stone mansion overlooking Hargeisa, Mohamed Yusuf Moge, aptly known as "The Fat Mohamed," lit up another cigarette. In front of him was a pile of leafless khat twigs. His eyes were wide and red-rimmed, a symptom of the leaves that have been chewed.
“We bring in 80-tons of khat every day,” he said. “We have many vehicles and two airplanes for transporting our produce. We control the market: We are the De Beers of the khat industry!”
"We" is "571 Allah Amin," a family business started 15 years ago that has grown to become Somaliland’s biggest khat importer. Moge is 571’s country rep. Although he would not reveal how much the company makes, it is estimated that its revenue is $320,000 a day.
Downtown at the company depot, the second of the day’s trucks arrives from the highland farms of neighboring Ethiopia mid-morning. Thursday is the busiest day of the week because, as one man explained, Friday is the Muslim day of rest so everyone can sleep off their khat hangover.
As the khat truck pulled in, barrow boys and vendors crowded round the tailgate to unload the 70 kg sacks of khat wrapped in hay to keep it fresh. Inside are small bundles of shoots that are bought wholesale for $1 and sold retail for $1.50.
“Business is good!” shouted Omar Hersi Warfa, 571’s depot manager, over the clamor. “We are working hard and people are chewing!”
Khat vendor Shamis Abdullahi Nur, 50, squatting on the ground nearby, agreed.
“Business is very good because of our security and peace,” she said as she directed a sack of khat to be loaded into the back of a beat-up station wagon for the drive across town to her stall. Others pushed smaller consignments away in wheelbarrows.
“I’ve been selling khat for over 30 years and now is the best time. There was a time of war, a time when I was a refugee, but now you can see I am sitting here eating my mango,” she said with a sticky, happy smile
Street prices are highest in the early afternoon because this is gayiil time when most men chew the khat and shoot the breeze. They can be found sitting on carpets in shady spots close to khat kiosks, with an ashtray, a flask of sweet tea and a jug of water at their feet. Women often sell khat but are not invited to chew.
But increasingly men are also chewing in the morning, the evening and throughout the night. The stoned man in a cotton wrap tottering in a daze along a crumbling potholed road with a fistful of green stems is a common sight.
Some warn the national habit does psychological damage. In the mental wing of Hargeisa’s main hospital, a staff member walked past the patients, many of whom were chained to a bed or a post or sat staring vacantly on the floor. “The majority of the men here are affected by
chewing khat, most are schizophrenic,” said Faisal Ibrahim.
Dr. Yassin Arab Abdi, the hospital’s chief doctor, said: “Chewing is part of it although there are many reasons for mental illness. Before they used to chew at a certain time for a few hours now there are four sessions 24-hours a day. These people are addicts.”
Back at the khat mansion, "Fat Mohamed" Moge and his colleagues, however, extolled the virtues of the drug.
“Khat plays a great role in our society. If there’s conflict people have to sit down, chew, talk about it," Moge said. “It is not like a drug which destroys the mind. It is a stimulant. If you chew khat in the right manner it doesn’t affect you.” But, he admitted, “There are some guys who are addicted, this is because they are jobless and have nothing to do.”
Unfortunately this description applies to many Somali men. The last national government — a military dictatorship — collapsed in 1991. Since then the unrecognized state of Somaliland has declared itself independent while Somalia has descended deeper into war and chaos. Isolation on the one hand and war on the other have left the formal economy shattered with many surviving on remittances sent from relatives abroad.
Yet it is not unusual for men to spend $5 or $10 a day on khat, making the habit a huge drain on very limited resources. The government’s entire annual budget is less than $50 million, around $14 a head for each of Somaliland’s 3.5 million citizens.
Such is the love of khat that to outlaw it would be political suicide. Nevertheless a senior Somaliland politician, Musa Behe of the opposition Kulmiye party, said, “The Somali man works less because he chews khat. We won’t ban it but we need to raise awareness of the harm
khat does.”
Tristan McConnell and Narayan Mahon traveled to Somaliland on a grant from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting

ETHIOPIA: Malnutrition critical in Somali region

ETHIOPIA: Malnutrition critical in Somali region
ADDIS ABABA, 16 July 2009 (IRIN) - Malnutrition rates in the Somali region of Ethiopia have reached critical levels, according to a recent assessment by the regional health bureau.
Conducted in seven woredas (districts) between April and May, the assessment found global acute malnutrition rates of 14.5 to 21.9 percent. A rate exceeding 15 percent reflects an emergency situation, it noted.
The highest rate of 21.9 percent was recorded in Degehabour woreda of Degehabour zone. Five other woredas in the zone also exceeded the emergency threshold.
The assessment noted that acute water shortages, poor access to safe water, low immunisation coverage, high childhood morbidity and dependence on relief food had aggravated the situation. Household coping mechanisms had also weakened after years of drought.
The findings indicated that under-five mortality rates are high in Degehabur and Bokh woredas.
"The situation is critical in Bokh and Degehabur woredas and serious in Kelafo, Hamero, Bare and Ayisha woredas, while Filtu was deemed 'poor', on the borderline of 'serious'," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its weekly humanitarian bulletin.
The health bureau forecast that the poor performance of the Gu rains in 2009 would lead to a further deterioration in food security as well as nutritional and health conditions in the region. The Gu rains fall in the long wet season that normally extends from March to May.
"In pastoral areas, the bad performance of the Gu season means that the July-September dry season is likely to be exceptionally harsh," the Famine Early Warning System Network said on 24 June.
The bureau recommended the immediate resumption of full relief food rations for targeted populations in the region. It also proposed strengthening supplementary feeding programmes.

Somalia deports Chinese cyclist on round-the-world trip

Somalia deports Chinese cyclist on round-the-world trip
A round-the-world cyclist from China who had visited 114 countries has been deported from Somalia.
By Mike Pflanz in Nairobi
20 Jul 2009
Lee Yue Zhong, who is in his mid-50s and planned to tour the war-ravaged nation "to see its landscapes and cities" was expelled from Somalia's northern Puntland region "for security reasons", police said.
He had told officials that he planned to cycle from north to south through the country.
Indonesia hotel bombings: Manchester United call off trip after terror blasts"We could not let him continue his trip for security reasons and we deported him to Djibouti," said Abdirahman Haji Abshir, a Puntland police commissioner.
Mr Lee said that had set off for his epic tour 12 years ago and had since visited 114 countries. He had entered Puntland from the more peaceful neighbouring Somaliland capital, Hargeisa.
"It took me two weeks from Hargeisa to here and it was part of my long trip to tour continents worldwide, but they really disappointed me," he said.
The authorities said that the cyclist did not have the necessary papers.
He had reportedly planned to travel south towards Mogadishu, which is currently in the grip of its deadliest ever fighting and where foreigners are regularly kidnapped. Two Frenchmen seized a week ago are still being held, as are two reporters from Canada and Australia taken hostage last year.

Somali insurgents ban UN agencies

Somali insurgents ban UN agencies
Somali militants accused of links to al-Qaeda have banned three United Nations agencies from operating in two southern towns they control.
Members of al-Shabab also raided the offices of the UN Political Office for Somalia, the Development Programme and the Department of Safety and Security.
Al-Shabab accused the agencies of being enemies of Islam and Somali Muslims.
The UN has no permanent staff in Somalia, but runs its operations from neighbouring Kenya.
Staff unharmed
One unnamed UN staff member told Reuters news agency that armed militia had surrounded the compound in Baidoa and taken away three cars.
Another official told AFP news agency that al-Shabab members had "told staff not to worry, nobody will harm them".
AFP reported that offices in the town of Wajid had also been targeted.
Other UN offices in both towns were not affected.
A statement broadcast on local radio from al-Shabab said the three UN organisations were "working against the benefit of the Somali Muslim population and against the establishment of an Islamic state in Somalia".
Al-Shabab and its allies control much of southern Somalia and swathes of the capital Mogadishu.
They are fighting to unseat the Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, who took office in January.
Story from BBC NEWS:

US administration to extend protected status for Somali nationals

US administration to extend protected status for Somali nationals
Monday 20 July 2009.
July 19, 2009 (WASHINGTON) — The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will issue a notice shortly extending special status for certain Somali nationals living in the US for 18 months, Sudan Tribune has learned.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted to some Somali nationals living in the US is due to expire on September 17, 2009.
TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to nationals of designated countries as part of the US Immigration Act of 1990.
The US Congress established a procedure by which the Attorney General may provide TPS to aliens in the United States who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, the temporary effects of an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
Somalia has been without an effective central government since President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991.
During the period for which a country has been designated under the TPS program, the registrants are allowed to remain in the United States and obtain work authorization and may not be deported unless they commit certain crimes.
However, TPS does not lead to permanent residence in the US which is better known as the ‘green card’. Several bills in the US Congress to grant permanent residence to some TPS beneficiaries have stalled.
Currently nationals of Burundi, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Sudan are also covered by the program.
Eligibility for TPS is limited to Somali nationals who entered the country on or before September 4, 2001. The immigration body states that an individual who has been convicted in the United States of either a felony or two or more misdemeanors is not eligible for TPS.
Somalia was initially designated for TPS in 1991 and was subsequently extended throughout the years. There are approximately 300 nationals of Somalia covered by the program currently.


Sudan: Who is selling our land to United Arab Emirates?

Who is selling our land to United Arab Emirates?
Monday 20 July 2009
Zechariah Manyok Biar
July 19, 2009 — The Economist published a shocking article about the sale of land in my home land of Jonglei in South Sudan. I also received an e-mail from a concern American citizen about the same deal that does not seem to make sense. So the issue is serious. The question is: who is selling our land?
The land that is allegedly leased out for fifty years is the size of Denmark. It is 6,180 square miles. The report called it the largest trackless swathe of Africa. Nobody can explain what that means to me because it took us more than five days to cross that land when we went to Ethiopia in 1987. But that was just a bit of the area that is now being leased out. It joins Buma to Pibor and from Pibor to my home area of Bor and then to Malakal area.
From the time I was born to the time that I left my home area at the age of 13 in 1987, I had been eating meat from animals that migrated from this area we call lok to the swampy areas that we call toch twice a year. Our cattle are also taken to area of Gadiang between Murle and Twich East when there is a drought in our home area. Lok is rich in everything that you can imagine. Now the report is saying that this land is being leased out to United Arab Emirates without the involvement of ordinary locals who regard that area as their only reliable land? Who will stop the locals from fighting the “investors” in the near future? Is there any benefit for South Sudan to give away such a land for 50 years?
History tells us that deals like this always end up in struggle that become negative to the locals. According to the Voice of America report on August 30, 2004, “On August 15, 1904, the Maasai signed a treaty with the British colonialists leasing to the British about one million hectares of land in Laikipia district for 100 years. British settlers subsequently moved onto the land and set up large ranches that remain there to this day.” Masaai protested in vain in 2004 for the restoration of their land. The protest was prompted by the drought and the fact that there was no water outside the fences of the leased out land.
Another problem is that of Zimbabwe. In 1888 Lobengula, the Ndebele ruler of the region that is now Zimbabwe, signed an agreement, granting mineral rights to the British South African Company, which then occupies most of the territory, calling it Rhodesia. According to Times report on September 16, 2008, “The Land Apportionment Act 1930 restricted blacks’ access to land in Rhodesia and forced them into wage labour.” You can now see why Mugabe is now mad against white Zimbabweans. But Mugabe is not winning the war because he cannot avoid the abuse of his power, making him lose sympathy even in Africa. I even do not support Mugabe in the way he is handling the issue. But he was right about the land issue.
One more example is that of Liberia. When American President James Monroe sent freed slaves to the current Liberia, locals were there. They had their King called Peter. Lieutenant Robert F. Stockton of USA who had preceded the freed slaves to prepare a land for them entered into negotiation with King Peter in December 1821 about the land. But King Peter dragged his feet. Stockton then pulled out a pistol to force King Peter into a bad deal. King Peter conceded and accepted terms Stockton imposed on him at gun point, allowing the Americans to acquire millions of dollars worth of land for a paltry $300.00 worth of trinkets, food, guns, and rum, as my friend Garpue Lieway from Liberia put it. That deal was the open door for the occupation of Liberia by Americans to resettle freed slaves.
Although Africans in Liberia would have been happier to welcome their brothers and sisters back to Africa, the deal that resulted in the resettlement was not in the favor of locals. Now they cannot get their land back.
I am among the people who encourage investors to invest in Sudan. However, a deal like the one that I am now writing about is a bad deal. We will never accept it for two reasons: it gives more than enough time to UAE investors to occupy the land without the consent of the locals. It also gives away the most important part of the land that the nation can be proud of in the near future as its most popular game park.
The taxes that UAE will be paying the government of Sudan or South Sudan cannot be compared with the amount of money that tourists will be paying the same government.
There is no problem with giving away of at least ten kilometers of land to those who want to build hotels. But giving away more than 6,000 square miles is crazy. It must stop. Remember that the same UAE Company failed to buy exclusive access to 6,500 square kilometers of the Serengeti plains in northern Tanzania. It must also fail in Sudan if our government knows what we fought for.
Zechariah Manyok Biar is a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA. He is pursuing a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and a Master of Science in Social Work, specializing in Administration and Planning. He is reachable at manyok34@gmail.com

Dubai Company to build two new luxury hotels in Addis


Ethiopia - Two new luxury hotels to be built in Addis
By Yohannes Anberbir
Limitless LLc, a subsidiary company of Dubai World, has finally reached an agreement with Addis Ababa City [Ethiopia's Capital] Administration to lease two huge plots to construct two five star luxury hotels.
A delegation led by Sheikh Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of Dubai World, had visited Ethiopia in July 2008, and conferred with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who warmly appreciated the Dubai giant’s interest in Ethiopia.
Limitless, which is based in Egypt, submitted a proposal to the city administration a month after DP World’s visit Ethiopia. The proposal highlights Limitless’ interest to engage in the hotel business in Ethiopia’s capital.
Officials of the city immediately invited the company to visit two key plots. Their prompt response showed their excitement at the potential investment of nearly 100 million dollars.
A garage used by the Defense Ministry located near the African Union (AU) Headquarters in front of the National Tobacco Enterprise off Roosevelt Avenue, and a plot located between the Addis Ababa Market Development and Exhibition Centre and the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions buildings are the plots offered to Limitless, who were equally excited about the potential of the locations.
A few months later Saeed Ahmed Saeed, CEO of Limitless, sent project proposals, although, they did not meet the city’s requirements. This prompted Mayor Kuma Demekssa to write a letter requesting a clear proposal that explicitly indicated the company’s lease plan and construction schedule.
Reports suggested officials of Limitless were surprised with the Mayor’s request, because they thought the plots would be offered for free. In fact, Limitless was not dismayed with the request, but did send one of their management in May to discuss the issue and clarify the city’s stance. The mayor told the delegate that no plots will be offered free of lease, which pushed Limitless to accept the lease arrangement.
Now the company has signed with the lease bureau of the city to pay the amount in three installments, the source told Capital.
According to the business proposal, Limitless intends to erect a 250 room business hotel, 150 serviced apartments, as well as additional office spaces and food and beverage stores, on the 30,525 square metre plot near the AU site.
The second proposal envisages a 200 room business hotel, 50 serviced apartments, cultural and entertainment centres, as well as offices, retail and food and beverage market spaces.
This is a ‘doorway investment’ for the Gulf giant because the delegation also announced its interests in receiving a management concessions to operate the 761 kilometre Ethio-Djibouti railway lines and to install a pipeline for oil that runs from Djibouti to the Awash area, a few hundred km east of Addis Ababa.
Dubai World Factfile
• Dubai World is an aggressive investment arm of the Gulf state, which is active both at home and abroad.

• It owns diverse and successful companies, including Dubai Drydoks, Dubai Maritime City, Inchcape Shipping Services, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, Istithmar World, Kerzner, One & Only, Atlantis, Island Global Yachting, Tejari, TechnoPark, P&O Maritime, Discovery Gardens and Tamweel.

• Dubai World was established under a decree ratified in 2006 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makktoum,Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and ruler of Dubai.