Tag Archives: Somalia

Second Journalist Targeted for Death in Somalia

Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed sits in t...

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After gunmen killed Somali journalist Hassan Osman Abdi, colleagues and friends were too scared to attend his funeral, since militants in Somalia have targeted such gatherings in the past. Mr. Abdi, a twenty-nine-year-old director of a radio station, was a father of three.

Mr. Abdi’s death was the second killing of a Somali journalist in less than two months. The attacks have sent waves of trepidation through Mogadishu’s media community.

The militant group al-Shabab appeared to claim responsibility for Mr. Abdi’s death, saying that the killing would serve as a “lesson” to other journalists.

Reporters said Mr. Abdi’s phone had voice messages on it from callers claiming to be al-Shabab militants, who threatened to kill him if he didn’t leave his job.

Somalia was most dangerous for journalists in 2009, when nine journalists were killed, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

There have been two killings in just over a month. A man wearing a Somali government uniform shot Abdisalan Sheik Hassan, a journalist with Horn Cable TV, in December. Now journalists are starting to feel targeted again.

Somalia President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed called Saturday’s killing a senseless murder and a terrible tragedy. He asked the public to aid authorities investigating the case.

Mogadishu’s journalists union called for the government bring suspects to justice.

Somali and African Union troops over the last year have largely pushed al-Shabab militants out of the city, which is far safer today than a year ago overall.

Via The Washington Post.

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Obama Orders Mission Saving American and Dane from Somali Kidnappers

U.S. Navy SEALs parachuted into Somalia early Wednesday, crept to an outdoor camp, and freed an American woman and Danish man.

President Obama authorized the mission two days earlier. Minutes after his State of the Union address, he was talking with the American’s father, saying his daughter was safe.

“As Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts,” Pres. Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

The Danish Refugee Council confirmed that the aid workers, Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Hagen Thisted, were “on their way to be reunited with their families.”

Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted were working with a de-mining unit of the Danish Refugee Council when gunmen kidnapped the two in October.

A pirate who gave his name as Bile Hussein told the Associated Press he had spoken to pirates at the scene of the raid and they reported that nine pirates had been killed and three were “taken away.”

A U.S. official confirmed local media reports that the SEALs parachuted into the area, before moving on foot to the target. The raid happened near the Somali town of Adado.

New intelligence emerged last week that Ms. Buchanan’s health was “deteriorating rapidly,” so Pres. Obama directed his security team to develop a rescue plan.

The helicopters and the freed hostages flew to a U.S. military base called Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti after the raid. A key U.S. ally in this region, Djibouti has the only U.S. base in sub-Saharan Africa. It hosts the military’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

The Danish Refugee Council had tried to work with Somali elders to win the hostages’ freedom but had found little success.

Both freed hostages are unharmed “and at a safe location.” They “are on their way to be reunited with their families.”

The two aid workers seem to have been kidnapped by criminals and not by Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab.

Their Somali colleague was detained by police on suspicion of being involved in their kidnapping.

Several hostages are still being held in Somalia, including a British tourist, two Spanish doctors seized from Kenya, and an American journalist kidnapped on Saturday.

Via USA Today.

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Aid Delay Cost Thousands of Lives

Thousands of people, mostly children, have died because the international community did not respond to warnings of an impending famine in East Africa.

Photo Courtesy of CNN

A food shortage was predicted in August 2010, but donors did not respond until a famine was declared in July 2011.

The British government estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 people have died from the famine, mostly in Somalia.

On Friday, it will be six months since the United Nations declared famine in Somalia.  Tens of thousands will have died of starvation by the time the famine ends. A quarter of a million Somalis are still at risk of starvation, and more than 13 million people need aid.

Via Impunity Watch.

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Somali Women Face Rape and Sexual Assault

English: Najmo, an 8 year old Somali schoolgir...

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Somalia has been worn down by decades of conflict. This year, tens of thousands have died from famine, with countless others cut down in combat. Now Somalis face an increase in rapes and sexual abuse of women and girls.

The Shabab militant group, which presents itself as a morally righteous rebel force and the defender of Islam, is seizing women and girls as spoils of war, gang-raping and abusing them as part of its reign of terror in southern Somalia. Short of cash and losing ground, the militants are forcing families to hand over girls for arranged marriages that often last no more than a few weeks and are essentially sexual slavery.

It is not just the Shabab. In the past few months, there has been a free-for-all of armed men preying on women and girls displaced by Somalia’s famine.

With the famine putting hundreds of thousands of women on the move — severing them from their traditional protection, the clan — more Somali women are raped now than at any time. In some areas, women are used as chits at roadblocks, surrendered to the gunmen at the barrier so that a group of desperate refugees can pass.

In the past two months, from Mogadishu alone, the United Nations has received more than 2,500 reports of gender-based violence. Because Somalia is a no-go zone for most operations, United Nations officials are unable to confirm the reports, leaving the work to fledgling Somali aid organizations under constant threat.

Somalia is a traditional place, where 98% of girls are subject to genital cutting. Most girls are illiterate and relegated to their homes.

The famine and mass displacement, which began over the summer, have made women and girls more vulnerable. Many Somali communities have been disbanded, and with armed groups forcing men and boys into their militias, it is often single women, with children in tow, who set off on the dangerous odyssey to refugee camps.

Aid workers and United Nations officials say the Shabab, who are fighting Somalia’s transitional government and imposing a harsh version of Islam in the areas they control, can no longer pay their several thousand fighters.

Via The New York Times.

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Why Banning Abortion Would Be So Bad

This year, rather than fix the economy or create jobs, American lawmakers have opted to make sure that there are as many obstacles between a woman and reproductive control as possible. The impact of restrictive abortion laws is not a mystery; dozens of countries severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health services, and we can glean that an America without legal abortions would be pretty terrible.

Women will die of unsafe abortions. When abortion is outlawed, women die of unsafe abortions. In Latin America, where abortion is restricted (and in some countries banned outright), more women die from having unsafe abortions than in any other region in the world. A 2009 Guttmacher report estimates that 70,000 women die annually from unsafe abortions, and millions of women are seriously harmed.

If women decide to give birth each time they become pregnant, they might die anyway. In countries like Somalia, Uganda, and Niger, where women average six to eight children, the maternal death rate is higher than in countries with lower birth rates. Giving birth is more unsafe than having an abortion.

Victims of sexual assault would be forced to carry pregnancies to term. Last year, in Quintana Roo, Mexico, a ten-year-old girl was raped and impregnated by her father. Because abortion is outlawed in the state, she was denied an abortion. Seventeen other Mexican states have similar abortion restrictions on the books.

Pregnant women with cancer would not be allowed to seek treatment. In Nicaragua, a pregnant twenty-seven-year-old who found out she had cancer was denied treatment because treatment would endanger her fetus (even though without treatment, the woman was projected to die before the baby was even born). Abortion’s been illegal in the country since 2006, and women who seek abortions face jail.

The government’s resources will be further strained. Nicholas Kristof points out that the budget conscious country should consider the implications of forcing millions of unwilling mothers to give birth by providing them with birth control. This will promote economic well-being on both a micro level (diapers are expensive) and a macro level (providing schools for a kids is expensive). Birth control and abortion saves the US an estimated $3.4 billion annually.

Paying detectives to solve miscarriage cases would drain the legal system. Somewhere between one in ten and one in three pregnancies results in a miscarriage; of those miscarriages, 80% happen during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. If fetuses are declared people, how will we find the cause of death? Who will do it?

Via Jezebel.

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Kenyan Air Strike Hits Somali Refugee Camp

During an air raid over Jilib, a coastal town in southern Somalia, a bomb fell on a refugee camp that is home to more than 7,500 people.

Kenyan troops approach the Somali border to find  members of the militant Al-Shabab organization, which Kenya holds responsible for a series of kidnappings within its borders. (Photo courtesy of Agence France-Presse)

Five people, including three children, died, and another forty-five had been hospitalized due to wounds sustained from shrapnel.  Due to the bombing activities, Doctors without orders has temporarily withdrawn its staff from the area.

The strike was aimed at an Al-Shabab camp in Jilib.  The refugee camp bombing resulted from an errant bomb.  Kenya confirmed the attack on the Shabab base, but denied harming the refugee camp.

Major Emmanuel Chirchir, a spokesman for the Kenyan military, said: “We bombed an al-Shabab camp, killed 10 and wounded 47. We are sure about this assessment, no collateral damage, no women, no children.” Chirchir initially denied claims that the military had bombed the camp.

Doctors without Borders’ departure is a setback for aid in Somalia, a conflict-ravaged East African country that has not had a stable government for more than twenty years.  Six areas under Al-Shabab control are in a state of famine, as declared by the United Nations.

Al-Shabab has promised reprisals against the invaders.

 

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U.S. Embassy Warns of Terrorist Attacks in Kenya

World map about terrorist attacks of al-Qaeda.

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The U.S. Embassy in Kenya warned American citizens Saturday of an “imminent threat of terrorist attacks.”

The embassy said it has received credible information of attacks directed at “prominent Kenyan facilities and areas where foreigners are known to congregate, such as malls and nightclubs.”

The warning comes after Kenya sent troops across the border into Somalia to pursue suspected Islamic militants from Al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab, which is linked to al Qaeda and has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States, is fighting to impose its own interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia, on Somalia.

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Donate $340,000 to Somali Children

Brad Pitt. Angelina Jolie.

Image by Bildbunt via Flickr

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who was recently recognized for her work as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, have donated $340,000 to the Humanitarian Initiative Just Relief Aid, which goes toward healthcare for homeless children in war-torn Somalia.

The country is experiencing its worst famine in sixty years; it has taken the lives of 29,000 children under the age of five.

On October 3, Ms. Jolie honored a Yemeni aid group and the U.N. Refugee Agency Awards in Switzerland, where she spoke about her ten years of experience with the refugees.

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Somali Town Bans Handshakes Between Sexes

Islamist insurgents in Jowhar, Somalia have promised to whip, imprison or kill residents who violate edicts banning unrelated men and women from shaking hands, talking, or walking together.

Women in Jowhar have also been beaten for wearing the “wrong” clothes and are not permitted to work in public.

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