Pontus Marine LTD- Leader of fishing industry in Somaliland

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Crisis point : Election delays raise doubts over Somaliland stability

(M e d e s h i)
Somaliland has been hailed as a beacon of stability in the troubled Horn of Africa region since declaring independence from Somalia in 1991. But BBC Africa analyst Mary Harper reports that some experts now believe the self-declared republic is at crisis point.
Michael Walls - co-coordinator of the international election observer mission to Somaliland - has issued a report bemoaning the repeated postponement of the presidential election.
In his report for the Chatham House think-tank, he says that if the situation is not resolved, the territory will inevitably lose many of the gains it has made since breaking away from Somalia.
Somaliland's stability has surprised many people. Although no country has recognised its independent status, it has managed to avoid many of the problems encountered by its neighbours.
This is partly because it has developed a unique hybrid system of government.
A traditional house of elders or "guurti" is combined with other more modern institutions. There is a limited system of democracy, whereby only three political parties are allowed to exist. This mixture of the modern and the traditional has been a largely effective way of governing. But recent developments put all this at risk.
"With international attention focused on piracy off the Puntland coast, the rise of militant Islam in southern Somalia, and the threat this is perceived to represent to international security and global terrorism, the potential for deterioration in Somaliland must surely be cause for concern," says Mr Walls.
The current tension in Somaliland centres on the postponement of the presidential election, which was due to have been held on 27 September.
This is not the first time the vote has been delayed - it has been postponed at least three times since last year.
President Dahir Riyale Kahin's term in office - which was meant to run out in May 2008 - has been extended several times.
It is currently due to expire on 29 October, and it is unclear what will happen after that.
This uncertainty has led to increased concern about Somaliland in the international community, and a flare-up of political animosity within the territory.
“ There is no crisis in Somaliland ” Adam Musse Jibril Somaliland representative in the UK
In September, for example, there was a fist-fight in parliament during discussions about a possible impeachment of the president. One MP is even reported to have drawn a gun, although no shots were fired.
Mr Walls says one of the main reasons for the repeated postponement of the polls is what he has described as the incompetence of the national electoral commission.
"Fears are widespread that the electoral commissioners will find themselves incapable of providing the organisation required for a successful presidential election," he says.
"Even if an election date was agreed, the commission wouldn't be able to organise the vote."
Another problem has been the inability of Somaliland's three political parties to agree on a voters' register.
The previous presidential election in April 2003 was held without a register. But as President Riyale won by the narrowest of margins - just 80 votes - it was widely agreed that a more robust system was required to help avoid future problems.
The compilation of a voters' register has been fraught with difficulty.
"The process has been marred by astonishingly widespread fraud and mismanagement", says Mr Walls.
More than half of those who registered did so without providing a readable fingerprint. Many people were registered without being photographed - instead, they brought their own pictures, which were held up in front of a camera and photographed.
There has been no widespread population count in Somaliland since the 1970s, and there is great sensitivity about the compilation of a new voters' register because it is likely to provide a different picture of the region, altering the balance of power between the clans.
This could have serious political implications, altering voting patterns and possibly the outcome of elections.
Animosity remains
The government of Somaliland insists there is no serious cause for concern about the political situation.
"There is no crisis in Somaliland. I accept there are some problems but these are mainly caused by the lack of economic development," says Adam Musse Jibril, Somaliland's representative in the UK.
Mr Jibril said people had to trust the territory's record of resolving political disputes.
"Somaliland has been able to achieve this by combining modern democratic systems with our traditional value systems, where people sit under a tree to talk, argue, and eventually reach a consensus," he says.
But political animosity remains. Mohamed Omar of the opposition Kulmiye party says he does not believe the government will honour a memorandum of understanding recently agreed on a possible way out of the political impasse.
Mr Walls says it is not too late for Somaliland. But he says a presidential election must be held as soon as possible.
"The dangers of instability and authoritarianism characteristic of a number of Somaliland's neighbours can still be averted, but the traditions of dialogue still urgently need to be reactivated", he says.
Story from BBC NEWS:
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Kenya: Joy and Urgency at President Obama's Nobel Peace Award

(M e d e s h i)
Kenyan: Joy and Urgency at President Obama's Nobel Peace Award By Alan Boswell
09 October 2009
Kenyans expressed both elation and a sense of national urgency Friday when it was announced that "son of the soil" Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The award is the second time in the past six years that a person of Kenyan roots has won the prize.
Kenyans received a pleasant surprise mid-day Friday when they learned that the year's Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. President Barack Obama.
(Obama in Somali dress at Wajeer , Kenya's Northern Frontier District, Occupied Somalia : File Photo from Medeshi archives)
Most of the world will see the prize as a victory for a globally-popular new American president - but for Kenyans there is little doubt that Mr. Obama, whose father was Kenyan, is ultimately one of their own.
Nasuur Dhoka, a 34-year-old accountant, voiced the pride widespread among Kenyans toward the U.S. president.
"Being a Kenyan I'm very proud about him," said Nasuur Dhoka. "We say he's a Kenyan because his dad is from Kenya. So Kenya is proud; we have two [peace prize winners] now."
Faith Mkarima, a local catering service employee, expressed similar joy at the news.
"He's our son so we share with him the happiness," said Faith Mkarima. "Being a son of Africa, we should also follow his example."
The U.S. president continues to hold extreme levels of personal popularity in this African nation, even leading former Kenyan president Daniel Arap Moi once again to criticize his countrymen for holding a near-religious obsession with the American-born world leader.
Despite having skipped Kenya in his first visit to the continent and having made few public comments directly regarding the nation since taking office, the man the Kenyan people call their "son" is a routine sight on the front page of the country's major daily newspapers. After Mr. Obama won the U.S. election last November, Kenya celebrated a new annual national holiday - Obama Day.
His popularity has caused an awkward situation for the nation's leaders, who have been coming under increasing fire from the U.S. for allegedly failing to quickly implement key reforms demanded by the international community following its post-election crisis of early 2008.

The government has responded to the criticism by claiming that President Obama must be receiving bad information from the chief diplomatic envoy posted in Kenya.
For many Kenyans, their clear satisfaction with Mr. Obama's recognition is tempered with a deeper sense of collective urgency to fix the nation's problems. Kenyans themselves point out the uncomfortable irony that their country - which has received the bulk of its international attention the past couple years for political instability and ethnic violence - would have garnered such an unlikely success in the world's top peace prize.
Ngari Gituku, head of the Kenya Leadership Institute, summarized a common feeling expressed to VOA that the award needed to serve as a wake-up call.
"First, he deserves it, and I think this is a very appropriate honor," said Ngari Gituku. "Number two, it should be a turning point for Kenyans to feel very ashamed if they don't rise up to the occasion and become the kind of people that Obama is inspiring us to become."
Kenyan Wangari Maathai won the Nobel award in 2004 for her environmental advocacy work under the Green Belt Movement.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki issued a statement Friday congratulating President Obama for his award, saying the prize was a "recognition of the contribution you are making for the well being of humanity."
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Are Eagles Descending on Africa soon?

(M e d e s h i)
Are Eagles Descending on Africa soon?
by Scott A Morgan
The Raid by American Special Forces in Somalia that resulted in the Death of one of the individuals responsible for the US Embassy attacks in 1998 could be a harbinger of events to come.
In recent weeks US Forces have conducted a Military Exercise in Gabon. The exercise was designed to be a Humanitarian Intervention along with Regional Allies in West Africa especially those Nations that reside in the Gulf of Guinea Region. Another Exercise Harvest Fire 10 is scheduled to begin on October 15th in Uganda. This exercise in Uganda is designed to be a Humanitarian Intervention as well but this exercise will involve members of the East African Community (EAC).
There is another interesting fact that has Peace Activists and those opposed to AFRICOM concerned. Several Groups including Resolve Uganda and Invisible Children have supported a Bill called the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. There is a clause in the Legislation that will call upon the President to present a plan to the Congress of available options to rein in Joseph Kony and the LRA. In recent weeks the LRA has launched attacks in Southern Sudan and the Central African Republic.
One of the Options could be a Military Option. Earlier this month the US Ambassador to the DRC told a Forum in Washington that the US was "refurbishing" a Military Installation in Kisangani. There is a saying that He who controls Kisangani controls the Congo. The Purpose of this effort is to assist in the continued assimilation of former militia members into the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC).
The Horn of Africa is still an area of major concern. Recently the President of Somalia was in the United States asking that the Children of Somalis not to send their Children back to Somalia as insurgents. One of the Main Somali Islamist Militias Al-Shaabab has been recruiting Members in the United States. There is at least one Grand Jury looking into this matter in the US but when it comes to this Homeland Security is strangely Silent. Another region where there is US silence is Somaliland. There will be Presidental Elections in the Near Future. Maybe its time to recgonize this area as an Independent State not as an Autonomous Region.
The Situation in Kenya in regard to the violence that resulted after the December 2007 Elections is still in flux. Although it appears that the case has been referred to the ICC (International Criminal Court). Recent Reports that there is an attempt to import Sophisticated Weapons into the Rift Valley have been denied as this point. The Country has been threatened by Somali Insurgents as well and tensions with Uganda have not been resolved yet.
The Instabilty in West Africa has yet to be resolved. The recent violence in Guniea and the Security Problems in Gambia are just tips of the Iceberg. Add the Problems in the Casamance Region of Senegal then you have the potential for a Widespread Conflict that could draw in Regional Actors. The Situations in the Niger Delta with the Amnesty and in Niger with a Potential Self-Coup cannot be ignored either.
There have been some people who want to know what the State Department is Doing. They are concerned that US Policy Decisions and Programs are being conducted and run by the Pentagon. A Recent Report by the Inspector General of the State Department found that currently Africa Desk is suffering from Low Morale and other Problems. Some Countries have been dealing with the Pentagon instead. That is a problem.
The Author Publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet. It now can be found at

Somali rebels amputate hands and feet in Kismayu

(Medeshi) - Friday, October 09, 2009 -NAIROBI (Reuters) - Somalia's hardline al Shabaab insurgents amputated a foot and a hand each from two young men accused of being robbers in southern Kismayu port on Friday. 

Friday, October 9, 2009

1800 refugees arrive monthly to Sudan from Horn of Africa

(M e d e s h i)
1800 refugees arrive monthly to Sudan from Horn of Africa
Friday 9 October 2009
October 8, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — Some 1,800 refugees arrive monthly to Sudan from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Sudan.
Eastern Sudan is one of the oldest refugee situations in UNHCR’s history. The international refugee agency has been in this country working in the eastern region for 40 years.
"The flow of refugees into eastern Sudan from neighboring countries continues at an average rate of 1,800 per month," said Peter De Clercq, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Sudan, in a press conference at the headquarters of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on Wednesday.
De Clercq went further to say the overwhelming majority of Horn of African refugees are from Eritrea "with smaller numbers from Ethiopia and Somalia."
Sudan, which is a hosting country for Eritrean refugees since the long separatist conflict with Ethiopia, saw their number increased considerably since last year.
The Eritrean opposition attributes this visible movement of displacement to the political repression, the compulsory mass conscription and the bad economic situation in the country.
Also, waves of Eritrean refugees were driven into Sudan due to the compulsory military service and the penalties for not doing the services and the penalties that are imposed on family members.
Military service lasts a minimum 18 months but authorities can extend it to as much as 10 years, with wages less than $25 a month. Around 10 percent of Eritrea’s population is said to be in the army.
"Many move northwards to the Middle East and Europe," UNHCR official further stressed.

Ethiopian Maid burned with boiling water in UAE - Video

(M e d e s h i)
Ethiopian Maid burned with boiling water in UAE - Al Jazeera Video
An Ethiopian maid in United Arab Emirates speaks to Al Jazeera about the abuses she suffered under her employer. Just like thousands of other maids in the Middle East, our sister was offered a job, a regular wage and a safe place to live, instead maids are regularly raped, battered, abused by their employers and brokers.
Our Ethiopian sister tells Al Jazeera that, her employer asked her to pick up trash and when she bent to pick up the trash, her employer poured boiling water on her and started beating her. Unfortunately such horrible stories in the Middle East are far too common, what is new here is, we often don't get to hear direct from the victims. Thanks to Al Jazeera, it exposed the horrible situation our sisters are facing in the Middle East.
What you are about to watch is a disturbing footage from Qatar based Al Jazeera.


Somali anger at Ethiopia 'raid'

(M e d e s h i)
Somali anger at Ethiopia 'raid'
Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland has protested to Ethiopia, accusing its forces of carrying out a cross-border undercover operation.
Puntland's security minister told the BBC two people were in hospital after Ethiopian forces entered Galkayo town at night and raided a house.
He said Ethiopian officers had shot one man and abducted another, later dumping him by road with a bullet wound.
Ethiopian forces were in southern Somalia until they withdrew in January.
Puntland Security Minister Abdullahi Said Samatar said the forces must have crossed over from Ethiopia's Somali region, also known as the Ogaden, where rebels are fighting the government.
But he said until a police investigation was finished it was not possible to say if it was connected to the unrest in the Ogaden.
"Our relationship with Ethiopia has always been good, but we cannot accept security forces intervening in this way," he told the BBC's Somali Service.
Rebels seeking independence for the Somali-speaking population in Ethiopia have operated in the Ogaden since 1984.
Correspondents say they seemed to get a new lease of life when Ethiopia troops went into Somalia to oust the Islamist administration from Mogadishu in late 2006.
Earlier this year, Ethiopia withdrew but Islamist groups now dominate much of southern and central Somalia, with a UN-backed government restricted to parts of the capital.
Puntland has been an ally of Ethiopia since it broke away to run its own affairs in 1998, seven years after Somalia descended into clan warfare.
Story from BBC NEWS:

UN appeals for speedy financial support for Somalia

(M e d e s h i)
UN appeals for speedy financial support for Somalia
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2009-10-09 07:30
There is slow but notable progress towards stability in strife-torn Somalia, but international financial support for the transitional government is vital, with speed being the most critical element, the UN's political chief said Thursday.
"Money received today in Somalia will have far greater impact on stability than that which arrives in three months' time," Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe told the Security Council, adding that the "extremely generous pledges" of 200 million U.S. dollars made earlier this year need to be fulfilled immediately.
He said he and Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Susanna Malcorra would meet with key donors tomorrow to assess the fulfilment of these pledges.
At the same time, he said, the humanitarian situation has "worsened dramatically" over the past three months due to intensified fighting in Mogadishu, the capital, growing insecurity in much of southern and central Somalia, and deepening drought.
Some 3.7 million people -- or about 50 percent of the population -- are now in need of livelihood and humanitarian aid, up from 3.2 million in January.
Presenting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's latest report, he noted that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) had overcome repeated attacks by foreign-funded and heavily armed groups, and that the African Union (AU) and its crucial peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, remained fully committed to bringing peace and stability to a country that has known little of either for the past two decades.
Beyond the international trust for financial support, he suggested that development partners start direct bilateral economic and financial cooperation with the TFG, and he stressed the "urgent need" to provide additional resources for AMISOM, which has some 5,200 troops stationed in Mogadishu, 65 percent of its mandated strength of 8,000.

Somalia accused of hiring young Kenyans to fight Islamist rebels

(M e d e s h i)
Xan Rice in Nairobi
guardian.co.uk, Friday 9 October 2009 19.59 BST
Hundreds of Kenyan youths have been recruited by Somalia's beleaguered government to cross the border and fight Islamist rebels, according to authorities in eastern Kenya.
Residents of Garissa, home to many ethnic Somalis, said the Kenyan army was facilitating the enlistment. Reports in the local media said that young men aged between 18 and 30 were being offered salaries of at least £250 a month to join President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's forces.
"The recruitment is not a secret," Mohamed Gabow, the mayor of Garissa, told Reuters. "Those involved are not worried. They are going around all the villages to announce the exercise".
He said more than 170 Kenyan Somalis, some with military experience, had been transported at night to an army camp in Mombasa. Local human rights activists said as many as 300 men had been recruited, with some already deployed to Somalia. Local leaders, as well as the Council of Imans and Preachers of Kenya, have demanded an explanation from the Kenyan government.
Kenya is a key ally of Ahmed's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and has watched with increasing concern as Islamist groups such as al-Shabab have taken control of southern and central Somalia and launched brazen kidnapping raids across the border.
Bogita Ongeri, a spokesman for the defence department in Nairobi, said he had received reports that the rebel militias had been recruiting Somali youths in refugee camps in Kenya, but denied the army was involved in enlisting Kenyans on behalf of the TFG.
"We are not involved in any such recruitment and training of youth to go and fight in Somalia. That is absolute propaganda. Why would we do that?" he told the Daily Nation newspaper.
Somalia's information minister, Dahir Mohamud Gelle, also denied that Kenyans were being signed up to fight for the TFG.
At a meeting in April, donors pledged £135m to help Ahmed establish a 5,000-member security force and 10,000-strong police service in Somalia. While the US has since sent weapons to the TFG, less than a third of the donor money has been received.
The Islamist militias would have overrun the government long ago had it not been for the presence of African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Somaliland farmers are allowed back into the fold

(M e d e s h i)
Somaliland farmers are allowed back into the fold
Matt Brown, Foreign Correspondent
HARGEISA, Somaliland .
Millions of Muslims across the Middle East slaughtered sheep to celebrate the Eid feast at the end of Ramadan. Many of those animals were probably raised here, on the dusty plains of Somaliland, growing fat on the many green pastures hidden in the rugged landscape.
(Cattle dealers, such as Mohamed Ismail, receive 90 per cent of their business from the Middle East. Tim Freccia for The National)
Livestock rearing is a way of life in the Horn of Africa and nomadic Somalis have practised it for centuries. Here in Somaliland, the northern breakaway region of Somalia, the economy thrives on the sale of sheep, goats and cattle.
“Livestock is the backbone of our economy,” said Oumer Yusef Booh, the dean of economics at the University of Hargeisa in the Somaliland capital. “During Ramadan we sell over a million sheep to the Middle East in one month.”
The Middle East, including the UAE, accounts for 90 per cent of Somaliland livestock sales. The rest is exported to the neighbouring countries of Ethiopia and Djibouti. Saudi Arabia, once a large trading partner with Somaliland, has had an embargo on Somaliland livestock for the past 10 years, which crippled the economy of this fledgling nation.
Saudi officials have said the reason for the ban, which began in 1998, is that animals from Somaliland could be infected with Rift Valley fever, a mosquito-borne virus that kills livestock and humans. But analysts in Somaliland suspect the motive purely political.
A strong, united Somalia is seen by Arab states as a counterweight to regional rival Ethiopia, which has poor relations with the Arab world. Moreover, Arab countries worry that recognising a breakaway state could set a precedent for other areas in the region with aspirations for independence.
In 1991, as Somalia plunged into a civil war that is still ongoing, Somaliland seceded from its union with greater Somalia. In the last two decades, Somalilanders have managed to build government institutions and security forces with little help from the international community, which does not recognise Somaliland’s independence.
The ironic result is that a beacon of stability in the troubled Horn of Africa is an unrecognised state. The Arab league along with most of the international community wants a strong, united Somalia and continues to back the beleaguered government in Mogadishu.
( The Middle East, including the UAE, accounts for 90 per cent of Somaliland livestock sales. Tim Freccia for The National)
“When Saudi Arabia banned our livestock, it was politically motivated,” Mr Booh said. “The Arab states don’t want Somaliland to be independent. The Rift Valley fever was just an excuse. It was in Kenya but not in Somaliland.”
Because of its unrecognised status, Somaliland receives no direct aid from the international community.
Aside from its livestock, the country has little else to export. It is too dry for agriculture and there is but a small, underdeveloped commercial fishing industry in the Gulf of Aden. A handful of Somalilanders are involved in the growing trade of frankincense, a fragrant resin obtained from the Boswellia trees of Somaliland. But livestock remains king.
Somaliland exports two million sheep per year, mostly to the UAE, Yemen and neighbouring countries, according to the government. Another 250,000 head of cattle and camels are sold from Somaliland. The exports are estimated to be worth around US$250 million (Dh920m).
Recently there have been signs of a thaw in Somaliland’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, the Somaliland government and Saudi investors completed a livestock quarantine station in the port city of Berbera that will allow officials to screen animals for disease before being exported.
“The problem was a lack of quarantine,” Dahir Riyale Kahin, the president of Somaliland, said in an interview. “We have made a good quarantine in Berbera. We have high hopes that before the Haj, we will be shipping to Saudi Arabia.”
In 2007, Said Suleiman al Jabiry, a Saudi investor who built the US$5 million (Dh18.3m) quarantine in Somaliland, signed a deal with the government giving him exclusive rights to all the country’s livestock at a fixed price.
Somaliland traders, outraged at what they called a monopoly, began smuggling their animals out of discreet ports to find better prices on the open market. The government, losing customs and excise revenue, eventually opened up the market for competition last year.
( Baraud Kahin has been a camel trader for seven years and calls livestock trading 'the greatest business in Somaliland'. Tim Freccia for The National)
In a dusty, windswept field on the outskirts of Hargeisa, traders meet each morning to buy and sell livestock. Nomadic herders with ochre-coloured hair and red robes travel to the city with long lines of camels and sheep.
“This is the greatest business in Somaliland,” he said. “It is how we survive.”
Mohamed Muhamed, a sheep dealer, said the time between Ramadan and the Haj is always good for business. During these months, he said he can move up to 50 sheep a day at $50 per head. The opening up of the Saudi market will be great for business, he said.
“It was a political thing with the Arabs, but now it is OK,” he said. “Business will be good this season.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Human Suffering in Somalia

(M e d e s h i)
Human Suffering in Somalia
By Alisha Ryu
Near Galkayo, Somalia
06 October 2009
The United Nations is warning that years of drought and conflict are pushing many regions of Somalia toward a new cycle of hunger, devastation, and human suffering.
Worse than ever
The vast reddish desert that covers much of Somalia's central Mudug region has always been a source of wealth, as well as calamity, for thousands of pastoral families.
In good times, the desert provides abundant food for goats and camels, which in turn provide the families with surplus milk and meat to sell in local markets. In bad times, the desert turns into a barren wasteland, challenging the survival skills of even the hardiest of people and their animals.
(Picture: Rotting carcass of camel that recently died because of Somalia's relentless drought)
Abshir Ahmed, 52, has lived all his life along a stretch of the desert near the town of Docol, 38 kilometers south of Galkayo. Scratching the bone-dry earth with his bare, calloused feet, Ahmed says the devastation that he and others are experiencing now is worse than anything they have ever been through before.
He says before the rains failed more than two years ago, he had 400 goats and 20 camels. They were enough to feed himself, his wife, and 13 children. But all that is left of his livestock now are 25 goats and when they are gone, Ahmed says he does not know what he will do.
The drought, and nearly two decades of political unrest and economic neglect have left the Mudug region one of the poorest and least developed in Somalia.
Pirates establish bases
In recent years, Somali pirates have established bases in Mudug's coastal towns of Haradhere and Hobyo. But the millions of dollars they demand in ransom payments are not used to help pastoral communities and in-land towns.
The United Nations estimates that nearly 200,000 people, half of the region's population, are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and they may all soon be on the move in search of towns with food and water.
(Photo: Bulo Bacley's long-term residents are being squeezed for space by the daily arrival of new IDPs)
Docol town elder Sheik Ali Gab says desperate families are already pouring into his community. He estimates 80 percent of the nomadic people in the surrounding area have lost all of their livestock and they have nowhere else to go.
Fear of water shortage
Gab says the town's population is growing every day and he fears Docol could begin experiencing a severe water shortage. He says there are shallow wells in remote areas outside of Docol, but most of the wells are now dry.
Several-dozen kilometers north of Docol, Malioun Osman, 40, says she, too, is also alarmed about the large influx of people coming into Bulo Bacley, a camp that for nearly 20 years has housed people fleeing the civil war raging in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Osman says long-term residents like her were already struggling to find enough food and water for thousands of recent arrivals from Mogadishu. She says the camp is now bursting with people from drought-affected regions as well.
For the thousands who live in Bulo Bacley, the nearest water well is three kilometers away. Cradling a dirt-covered jerry can under her arm, a heavily pregnant woman named Aisha sets off on foot from the camp to fetch her daily ration.
( There is no clean drinking water available for IDPs at BuloBacley, raising possibility of an outbreak of waterborne diseases)
She says she fears the water is not fit for drinking, but there is nothing else to drink.
Underground water source
U.N. children's agency in Somalia Deputy Representative Hannan Suleiman tells VOA that unlike countries like Yemen that may run out of water entirely in the next two decades, Somalia is thought to have plenty of water underground to sustain people for many generations.

Suleiman says what Somalia needs urgently is a comprehensive water management system.

"All we have been able to do in this area is to rehabilitate shallow wells because of access limitation and lack of funding," Suleiman said. "It is very expensive to drill bore holes in Somalia. It is a very lengthy, cumbersome process, although that is ideally the way to go. The issue is also climate change here. So, we need to do some research on the impact of climate change and how we can adapt to that. And to do that, we need a lot of geological surveys and surveys on water preservation systems. And that has not been done yet."
But Suleiman says funding shortfalls and concerns over security and violence in Somalia make it unlikely such surveys will be carried out any time soon.
( Pregnant woman at Bulo Bacley IDP camp worries about future of her growing family as ongoing conflicts, climate change threaten to keep millions mired in misery and poverty)
Long-term solution needed
Galmudug regional government Minister of Planning Omar Mohamud warns that not implementing a long-term solution to the water problem will fuel the vicious cycle of droughts, hunger, and violence and keep the Somali people in the iron grip of poverty.
"If they lose their livestock, they move to villages," he explained. "These small towns like Docal do not have the capacity to keep so many IDPs [internally displaced people]. So, now, young people are moving to Galkayo and they join the militias. They loot. They put up checkpoints on the road and they are part of the insecurity."
Somalia could get some relief from the drought in the coming weeks, if El Nino storms move through East Africa as expected. But heavy rainfall could also trigger massive flooding, lost livestock, and displacement, bringing more misery to millions.

(A Somali mother and her children at Bulo Bacley, a long-established camp for people fleeing violence in Mogadishu)
Source : VOA

NUSOJ condemns suspension of three VOA journalists

(M e d e s h i)
(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) strongly condemns the suspension from work of three journalists who are reporters for the Voice of America (VOA) Somali Service in the Puntland region of northeastern Somalia.
In a letter issued by the office of the Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Culture of the Puntland State of Somalia, the ministry "suspended the journalistic work of the VOA reporters in Puntland."
The journalists whose work was suspended are Nuh Muse Birjeb, the VOA Somali Service correspondent in Garowe, Mohamed Yasin Isak, the VOA Somali Service correspondent in Galkayo, and Abdulkadir Mohamed Nunow, the VOA Somali Service correspondent in Bossasso.
Although the letter, of which NUSOJ has received a copy, did not state the reason behind the suspension, reliable sources confirmed that the journalists were barred from work following an interview the VOA Somali Service aired on 30 September 2009. The individual interviewed was a man who claimed he was the chairman of the Ahlu-Sunnah Waljamaca group, which the Puntland authorities view as rivals in the power play.
"The suspension is an unjustified and deliberate suppression of independent reporting. The letter contravenes the constitution of Puntland and the Transitional Federal Charter of Somalia, which Puntland recognizes. This is a gross violation of media freedom and freedom of expression," said NUSOJ secretary general Omar Faruk Osman.
The letter, which was addressed to the suspended journalists and copied to the head of the VOA Somali service and the Puntland Presidency, also bars any other journalist from doing any journalistic reporting for the VOA Somali Service.
"We call upon the Puntland authorities to immediately withdraw the suspension and allow the three journalists to carry out their work without any hindrances or conditions. The suspension is an affront to the peoples' right to receive and will result in the people of Puntland not being able to get news and information which would have otherwise been provided by these journalists through the VOA. It is therefore a suppression of the public's right to know what is happening in Puntland," Omar Faruk Osman added.

VOA Denounces Ban on VOA Journalists in Puntland, Somalia

(M e d e s h i)
Washington, D.C., October 5, 2009 - The Voice of America condemns the indefinite ban on reporting imposed on three VOA journalists by the government in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in northeastern Somalia.
Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C., October 5, 2009 - The Voice of America condemns the indefinite ban on reporting imposed on three VOA journalists by the government in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in northeastern Somalia.
"This represents censorship and a serious blow to press freedoms and cannot be tolerated," said Voice of America Director Dan Austin. "Our journalists all over the world follow the guidelines laid out in the VOA charter; reporting that is accurate, objective and comprehensive. I urge the Puntland government to reverse this suspension immediately."
Puntland's Deputy Minister of Information Abdishakur Mire Adan issued a letter late last week, banning three VOA reporters - Nuh Muse, Mohamed Yasin, and Abdulkadir Mohamed - and any other VOA journalist from working in the region. The deputy minister also ordered all VOA affiliate FM stations to cease airing VOA programs.
"Access to information is a basic right enshrined in the 60-year-old Universal Declaration of Human Rights," said Steven J. Simmons of the Broadcasting Board of Governors which oversees U.S. international broadcasting including the Voice of America. "It is a tragedy that those most in need will be deprived of essential news and information by these actions."
On Friday, Puntland Security Minister General Abdullah Samara also wrote a letter, describing VOA reports in the region as "negative" and inciting "instability."
Chief of VOA's Somali Service Abdi Yabarow believes the decision to suspend VOA broadcasts came after the service aired an interview with Sheikh Sayid Khalif, a moderate Sufi Muslim leader who told VOA he had opened an Ahlu Sunna Wal-Jama'a branch in Puntland. The Sheikh went on to condemn the extremist practices of Al-Shabab and other hardline religious groups in Somalia. Several weeks ago, Puntland officials briefly detained reporter Mohamed Yasin after he reported that the former governor's son had killed a man in broad daylight.
Yabarow said, "We ask Puntland authorities to allow the free flow of information. For the last two years, VOA journalists have reported the news fairly and accurately in Puntland, where we have many listeners. We also urge officials to allow our affiliates to do their jobs and broadcast our programs."
VOA's Somali Service broadcasts three hours and 30 minutes of news and information programming daily, 7 days a week on AM, FM, shortwave and the Internet at www.VOANews.com/Somali.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages. VOA is the leading U.S. international broadcaster.
For more information, please call VOA Public Relations at ( 202 ) 203-4959, or e-mail askvoa@voanews.com.

Cardiff-based Somalia refugee stars in Iris Prize Festival premiere

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Cardiff-based Somalia refugee stars in Iris Prize Festival premiere
Oct 6 2009 WalesOnline
When he fled the civil war in Somalia, never in his wildest dreams did Said Mohamed think he would be watching himself on the big screen playing the leading man in the much anticipated new short film Colonial Gods.
24 year old actor is now looking forward to the screening of Colonial Gods as part of the 2009 Iris Prize Festival. The short film based in Cardiff’s Butetown, is written and directed by award winning filmmaker Dee Rees.
“I was offered a small part in the film initially, which was very exciting. It was such a fantastic opportunity to work with an award winning director from the US in the same year I graduated from university. I never once thought that I would end up playing the role of Abdi, who ties the whole film together,” remarked Cardiff-based Said Mohamed.
Colonial Gods is the first short film produced through the Iris Prize and deals with the communities of Bute Town in Cardiff Bay as their rundown neighbourhoods are transformed into prime water front developments. The 30 min short film also explores the tensions between religion and sexuality.
“I was aware of the gay content in the film but this did not bother me. I am a Muslim but I approached the project in a professional manner, as I hope most actors would. Film and acting has always been my passion, I started studying Performing Arts in college, it’s what I would like to be – it’s how I would like to earn a living,” he added.
Said was born the youngest child in a family of eight (six girls and two boys) in Somalia. When he was very young the family moved to neighbouring Djibouti, where Said started to learn French, which came in useful when the family decided they had to move to Europe to join his father's family and sister who already lived in France.
Reflecting on his escape from Somalia Said added, “Due to the civil war in Somalia we fled to Europe, where we sought asylum. Like many other refugees, we got dispersed as a family and some of us ended up living in France, the Netherlands and the UK. I followed my mother to the UK. She depends on me because of the language and cultural barriers some older people can't cope with.”
“I'm a real city person and my favourite city at this moment is Paris; it has so much to offer with it's diversity in the people who live there, the kinds of neighbourhoods and the many museums it has. Paris is the place to be if you like Art, like I do,” he added. “I’ve heard a lot about the Iris Prize Festival and the work they do in supporting LGBT filmmakers. Guest from all over the world will be in Cardiff for the festival, which I’m sure will very exciting. I’m thinking Cardiff should become my favourite city!” he added.
The Iris Prize is an international gay and lesbian short film prize that unites a global network of film festivals - located in Tel Aviv, Hamburg, Brazil, Austin, Hong Kong, London, Toronto, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Dublin, Philadelphia, Sydney, Miami, Chicago, and Melbourne – who annually nominate a short film to compete for the Iris Prize.
The 2009 Iris Prize Festival takes place between October 7th – 10th October in Cineworld and Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Wales (UK). The programme will include screenings of all the 30 short-listed short films, feature films, talks and debates, parties, and the Iris Prize Awards Show.
Iris is not just another prize or festival! The winner will receive the largest prize for a gay and lesbian short film competition in the world – a package valued at £25,000. The prize, generously sponsored by the UK post-production sector, will allow the winner to make their next short film in the UK.
There are also six feature films screening as part of the festival which are eligible for the Iris Prize Best Feature Award. The winner of the £1,000 cash award, sponsored by Independent Financial Adviser Martin Briggs, will be selected by the Friends of Iris.
The screening of Colonial Gods takes place as part of the Iris Prize Festival on Wednesday 7 October 2009 at Chapter, Cardiff at 8.30pm
Full programme details here:

Somali minister 'held in Uganda'

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Somali minister 'held in Uganda'
Somalia's junior minister for defence has been detained by Ugandan security forces during a trip to capital, Kampala, the Ugandan army has said.
Sheikh Yusuf Mohamed Siad, a former Islamist warlord known as Inda'ade, was held while visiting family in the city.
Ugandan army spokesman Lt Col Felix Kulayigye told Reuters news agency the minister had come "for unclear reasons and we took an interest in him".
Uganda provides many of the troops for the African Union Mission to Somalia.
Somali government officials and Mr Siad's relatives had earlier said they believed he had been kidnapped by unknown gunmen, but the Somali ambassador in Kampala later confirmed to Reuters that he was aware the minister was in Ugandan custody.
"We want to know what happened, but it seems to have something to do with legal papers," Siid Ahmed said.
Somalia has experienced almost constant conflict since the collapse of its central government in 1991.
It was hoped the election of moderate Islamist Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad as president in January and the departure of Ethiopian troops would stop the violence, but Islamist insurgents are keeping up their attacks and the government's military position has weakened further.
Mr Siad, who became minister of state for defence in June, served as head of security under Mr Ahmad when he briefly governed Somalia as chairman of the Union of Islamic Courts in 2006.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Is Yemen Chewing Itself to Death?

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Is Yemen Chewing Itself to Death?
By Yemen
By 4 in the afternoon, most men walking the streets of Sana'a are high, or about to get high — not on any sort of manufactured narcotics, but on khat, a shrub whose young leaves contain a compound with effects similar to those of amphetamines. Khat is popular in many countries of the Arabian peninsula and the Horn of Africa, but in Yemen it's a full-blown national addiction. As much as 90% of men and 1 in 4 women in Yemen are estimated to chew the leaves, storing a wad in one cheek as the khat slowly breaks down into the saliva and enters the bloodstream. The newcomer to Yemen's ancient capital can't miss the spectacle of almost an entire adult population presenting cheeks bulging with cud, leaving behind green confetti of discarded leaves and branches. (Read "Can Amphetamines Help Cure Cocaine Addiction?")
For its many devotees, khat is a social lubricant on a par with coffee or alcohol in the West. Indeed, because chewing the leaf isn't forbidden by Islam, "khat is alcohol for Muslims," says Yahya Amma, the head merchant at the Agriculture Suq, one of the largest khat markets in the city. "You can chew it and still go to prayers." The leaf's energy-boosting and hunger-numbing properties help university students focus on their homework, allows underpaid laborers to work without meals and, according to local lore, offers the same help to impotent men that Westerners seek in Viagra. Evening khat ceremonies — regular salon gatherings (usually only of men) to chew and chat about matters great and small — are the country's basic form of socializing. (Read "U.N. World Drug Report.")
But khat's detractors say the leaf is destroying Yemen. At around $5 for a bag (the amount typically consumed by a single regular user in a day) it's an expensive habit in a country where about 45% of the population lives below the poverty line. (Most families spend more money on khat than on food, according to government figures.) A khat-addled public is more inclined to complacency about the failings of the government, khat ceremonies reinforce the exclusion of women from power and, as is obvious to anyone finding a government office nearly empty on a weekday morning, khat is keeping the country awake well past its bedtime.
"You sit up discussing all your problems and think you've solved everything, but in fact you haven't done anything in the last four hours, because you've just been chewing khat and all your problems actually got worse," says Adel al-Shujaa, a professor of political science at Sana'a University and the head of the Yemen Without Khat Association. Plus, he says, "all the decisions you've made are bad because you've made them while on khat."
But the worst thing about khat may be that it is sucking Yemen dry.
The plant thrives in the high hill country outside Sana'a, where nearly every patch of irrigated land is covered in khat. Unlike coffee, which Yemenis claim was first cultivated here, khat is easy to grow and harvest. And though cultivating and dealing the leaf doesn't generate the kind of instant wealth associated with growing poppies in Afghanistan or coca in Colombia, it certainly provides a steadier income than growing vegetables does — that's why nearly all of the country's arable land is devoted to khat. And khat needs a lot of water, which is scarce in Yemen.
Khat fields are typically flooded twice a month, consuming about 30% of the country's water — most of which is pumped from underground aquifers filled thousands of years ago, and replenished only very slowly by the occasional rainfall that seeps through the layers of soil and rock. A recent explosion of khat cultivation has drawn water levels down to the point where they are no longer being replenished. The option of pumping desalinated water over long pipelines from coastal plants is too expensive for such a poor country. Yemen is in real danger of becoming the world's first country to run out of water.
"I tell UNHCR that they should start buying tents [for the communities that would be forced to move in search of drinking water]," says Michael Klingler, a hydrologist and the local director of GTZ, the German government's technical-assistance team, which is advising Yemen on water-management issues.
A massive drought — accelerated by khat cultivation — and the resultant population displacement could have a devastating impact in one of the most fragile countries in the Middle East. A separatist insurgency in the south is threatening to break the country apart, while pirates from Somalia are menacing the coast. Al-Qaeda, meanwhile, has long seen the lawless tribal lands in the northern mountains as a potential sanctuary.
Quitting khat would double the amount of household water available, says Klingler, but that may only slow the onset of crisis. The hydrologist argues that Yemen needs to revert to consuming only as much water as it collects from rains — and to import most of its food from abroad.
Despite the danger, Yemen isn't about to go cold turkey anytime soon. Not only are most of the country's leaders landowners deeply involved in khat production, the leaf may be one of the few things still holding Yemen together. Says Ashraf Al-Eryani, one of GTZ's local program officers, "Khat plays a big role in keeping people calm, and keeping them off the streets. But it's also delaying change. It's hard to convince people to act now."

Ethiopia gears up for malaria outbreak

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Ethiopia gears up for malaria outbreak
Saturday, October 5 ,2009
Ethiopia is stockpiling medicine to counter an expected surge in malaria cases due to hotter weather, its health ministry said on Saturday. Skip related content
The government has already purchased malaria diagnosis kits and medicines .
In a statement, Kesetebirhan Admasu, head of the disease prevention directorate, said the El Nino effect would raise temperatures, reduce rain and generally aggravate conditions for the spread of malaria.
In response to the threat, he said, "there is sufficient medicine in store that could treat 12 million people," for which 12.6 million birr (685,000 euros, one million dollars) has been spent.
The government has already purchased malaria diagnosis kits and medicines, insecticides and spraying equipment, and plans to distribute 13 million mosquito nets, he added.

Somaliland Expands its Petroleum Licensing Round Acreage

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October 05, 2009
Somaliland Expands its Petroleum Licensing Round Acreage
HARGEISA, Somaliland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Somaliland Ministry of Water and Mineral Resources (Ministry) announced today that it will add 6,221 square kilometers of onshore acreage in block SL3 to their petroleum licensing round, closing in December 2009.
The bid round now includes nine concession blocks comprised of more than 95,845 square kilometers of onshore and offshore areas. The deadline for final submission of bids is December 15, 2009 and concessions will be awarded on March 15, 2010.
Seismic, aeromagnetic data and interpretive datasets over the region are available from TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company (TGS). The information on bid round application is also available through TGS.
Minister of Water and Mineral Resources
Republic of Somaliland
Mr. Qasim Sh. Yusuf Ibrahim,
+ 252 2528766

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Who Is Supplying Weapons To Somalia?

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Martin McCauley writes: Have you ever wondered where all the arms in Somalia come from? How can such a poor nation be so overflowing with weapons? Where do they come from and who is paying for them?
During the colonial era the Horn of Africa was shared by Italy and Great Britain. Ethiopia negotiated deals to remain independent. The end of the colonial era was followed by the Cold War. This brought the Soviet Union, China and Cuba into the region. The United States defended the Western point of view.
This meant that the Soviet Union and its allies armed and supported Ethiopia, Somalia and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen). Masses of Kalashnikovs, rocket propelled grenades, anti-aircraft guns and armoured pickup trucks with weapons mounted on the back flooded the region. The collapse of the communist regime in Ethiopia in 1987 and the Siad Barre dictatorship in Somalia in 1991 released huge amounts of weapons and equipment which found their way on to the markets of East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea led to private arms traders and governments entering the arms trade. Italian traders were active in Somalia and analysts surmised that this was a Mafia operation. Arms shipments from Italian and Irish ports were reported.
In Somalia, the United Nations recognises the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). It received huge amounts of arms from Ethiopia and other foreign governments. Eritrea has provided weapons to the Islamic opposition, the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS) and al-Shabaab.
Ethiopia intervened militarily to support the TFG but chastened, withdrew last year. Its departing troops sold huge amounts of weapons to the insurgents.Where does the money to pay for all these arms come from? Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates appear to be the main sources. Yemen is an arms depot - the population is 22 million but there are an estimated 50 million weapons in the country. The country has traditionally supplied weapons for conflicts in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Despite UN efforts to get Yemen to curb the flow of arms to Somalia little headway has been made.
Clans in northern Somalia sell arms to other clans, warlords and the Ethiopians. Ugandan forces, part of the African Union peacekeeping force, after seizing weapons sell them on through middlemen. They then enter the market and some of these are purchased by al-Shabaab.Piracy is now a growth industry but the presence of a multi-national naval force may restrict to some extent the flow of arms from Yemen to the Horn of Africa. The UN is negotiating an Arms Control Treaty but it will only concern governments. It will probably have little impact on the free market in weapons which is fuelling conflict in the Horn of Africa.
The ARS and al-Shabaab are now well armed and appear to be well funded as well. This means that the civil war in Somalia is set to continue until one group takes over the government and the state. That in turn will lead to an anti-government movement forming to overthrow the regime. Somalia is a failed state and there appears to be no way out of the impasse at present.

Sanaagland : Neglected by its people

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Sanaagland: Neglected by its own people
Sanaagland is the largest region of Somaliland, and it is also the most neglected. This disregard has been ongoing since Independence, but most of the current blame falls upon Sanaaglanders themselves. Many have migrated to the western part of Somaliland or further, and invested both money and time away from home.
(Photo: sheep housed in one of Dayaha school dormitories )
Expatriates from Sanaag can be found in North America, Europe and Asia. For example, most of the Somali workers in the UAE originate from Sanaag and are among those who have the highest incomes. When these expatriates send money home, build houses and settle their children in Somaliland, Hargeisa is a more popular choice than their native area of Sanaagland. One of the reasons behind this is that the government of Somaliland has concentrated almost all development projects in the capital city and its environs, rather than sharing the national income equally with other regions.
The lack of interest showed by Sanaaglanders in their homeland can also be blamed in large part on the underdeveloped transport infrastructure. Accessibility by road is often tiresome and time-consuming: overland access to Erigavo, the capital of Sanaagland, takes at least 12 hours on the nearest tarmac road that connects Burao and Lasaanod to Mogadishu. This has a negative impact on business development, as merchants have to use other means of transport, such as expensive air travel. Cash crops cannot be exported to west Somaliland due to lack of accessibility; for example, the famous cabbage farm owned by Mohamed Jama has been abandoned. Farmers have to divert their sales to Bossaso which is hostile to Somaliland.

Another factor is that the Hargeisa-based government discourages aid directed towards Sanaagland, under the pretext that the East is not stable. The government claims that it cannot guarantee the safety of aid workers who could deliver desperately needed medical and humanitarian assistance to the Sanaagland people. Sanaagland has the highest rate of infant mortality in Somaliland due to lack of medical care and qualified doctors.
Education is another area of concern in Sanaagland. Dayaha Intermediate school was built by the British in the colonial era, and is the alma mater of most educated middle aged Sanaaglanders. The school has been extensively looted, partially demolished and is currently being used as a shelter for livestock by pastoralists. Students now have to travel a long distance on the rough Garadag road in order to attend higher education in Hargeisa.
Sanaagland is fortunate enough to have an abundance of water and a fertile landscape. Sanaaglanders need to return to their native land and contribute to alleviating the suffering of its people, rather than always looking to Hargeisa. Regardless of clan or district, the people of Sanaag must come together to ensure a better future for this most beautiful but neglected part of Somaliland.
Written by : M. Ali with editing of Sarah Howard

Spain: hijacked fishing boat makes port in Somalia

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Spain: hijacked fishing boat makes port in Somalia
Oct. 04, 2009
By HAROLD HECKLE - Associated Press Writer
MADRID A hijacked trawler has been taken to port in Somalia with pirates still in charge of the vessel, the Spanish government said Sunday.
The Spanish-owned fishing boat Alakrana was hijacked by pirates early Friday. It is being monitored by two navy warships, rescue force commander Gen. Jaime Dominguez said.
Dominguez also said at a press conference that two suspected pirates had been captured as they navigated a small boat in the vicinity of the Alakrana.
The two had just come off the Alakrana aboard a motorized skiff that carried 14 containers of fuel, Dominguez said.
One of the suspected pirates was shot and slightly wounded as Spanish naval personnel boarded the skiff, Dominguez said.
Spanish frigate Canarias and Dutch warship Germinal caught up with the tuna-fishing vessel during the night and shadowed it as it made for the Somali coast, Domiguez said.
Dominguez did not specify which port the Alakrana had arrived at.
The boat had been fishing for tuna 800 miles from the nearest navy escort when it was boarded by pirates. It was the second attack on the Alakrana in less than a month after the captain had to take evasive action to dodge a pirate approach on Sept. 4.