Somalia (Continuación)

A hairdressing shop in Garowe, the capital of Puntland, Somalia. A law criminalizing all forms of sexual violence was passed in the region a year ago, but rape cases appear to have spiked. Credit Michael Kamber for The New York Times

In late 2016, the semiautonomous Puntland region of northeastern Somalia passed a landmark sexual-offenses law to widespread international acclaim.

The law — the first of its kind in the region — criminalized all forms of sexual violence. It banned gang rape, sexual exploitation and harassment. The result of many years of hard work, it had support from Puntland’s Ministries of Women, Development and Family Affairs, Justice and Religious Affairs, as well as from parliamentarians and religious and community leaders. There were predictions that it might serve as a guide for the rest of the region. When it was enacted, women like me who’d fought so hard for its passage were filled with a new sense of hope.…  Seguir leyendo »

African Union soldiers march along the top of a hill overlooking the al-Shabab stronghold of Barawe in Somalia in October 2014 in this image provided by the African Union Mission to Somalia. (Tobin Jones/AMISOM/Associated Press)

After more than 10 years of operations, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has a new exit strategy to reduce the threat from al-Shabab, secure the political process and transfer security responsibilities to Somali forces. But political feuds between the national government and Somalia’s regional administrations, pervasive corruption and recent setbacks against al-Shabab threaten to derail AMISOM’s successful exit.

The London Security Pact of May 2017 and the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2372 on Aug. 30, 2017, determined that AMISOM and its partners will build “a capable, accountable, acceptable, and affordable Somali-led security sector” to enable the African Union mission to leave.…  Seguir leyendo »

The scene of a truck explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia, this month that killed more than 400 people. Credit Mohamed Abdiwahab/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On Oct. 14, a truck carrying about two tons of homemade explosives blew up near Zoobe Junction, one of the busiest streets in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. The blast sent shock waves for miles. More than 400 people were killed — nearly 150 of them burned beyond recognition — and hundreds wounded. Families wandered for hours searching for their loved ones in the rubble.

Hundreds of citizens lined up at hospitals for hours to donate blood. Doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers did all they could to rescue the wounded. Grieving and angry Somalis gathered on Zoobe Junction blamed Islamist Shabab militants for the atrocity.…  Seguir leyendo »

The aftermath of a truck bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Oct. 14. Officials said the attack was carried out by the militant Islamic group Shabab. Feisal Omar/Reuters

One evening in August, I climbed onto a dusty old truck in the Dadaab refugee camp in the eastern Kenyan desert, about 50 miles from the border with Somalia. A tarpaulin in the truck bed covered the sacks of beans it was transporting to the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The driver readily picked up some passengers: four women and eight men for $60 each.

The women sat in the front beside the driver. I sat with the men on the tarpaulin. Six truck tires were strapped onto the tarp. We had to hold onto the tires to keep from falling off the truck as it bumped along a dirt road through a forest.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armed Cameroonian men in the rapid intervention battalion patrol in Waza, Cameroon, in May 2014. (AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nations proclaimed Oct. 2 as the International Day of Non-Violence, a reminder that it is irrational to use violence to promote peaceful societies. It’s also a reminder of the importance of accurate data on where and why violence occurs in the world, and where the threats are on the rise.

Since April 2016, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies has tracked the levels of attacks associated with all militant Islamist groups in Africa on a quarterly basis, using data compiled from the widely used Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) Project.

In a July 21 Monkey Cage post, Salem Solomon and Casey Frechette challenged the validity of an Africa Center analysis that noted that al-Shabab had surpassed Boko Haram as Africa’s most deadly militant Islamist group.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman at an internally displaced persons camp on the outskirts of Dinsor, Somalia. Giles Clarke/Getty Images

As I waited for my ride to collect me from the Mogadishu airport, an officer told me an apocryphal tale: A starving goat, blind from hunger, mistook a baby wrapped in a green cloth for grass and bit off a mouthful of emaciated flesh from the baby’s upper arm. The baby’s anguished cry brought the mother to her knees and she wept in prayer. The next day, a friend I met in Mogadishu repeated a variation of the same tale.

I saw the story as encapsulating much of what everyone needs to know about the goat-eats-baby severity of the current famine in the Somali Peninsula, with more than six million affected, crops wasting away, livestock dead or dying, water and foods scarce.…  Seguir leyendo »

Somali soldiers stand guard at the scene of a car bomb explosion near Mogadishu, Somalia, on July 12, 2017. Media outlets report that at least two people were killed when the car bomb went off at a checkpoint outside the Somali capital. (Said Yusuf Warsame/European Pressphoto Agency)

In May, a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed and two other U.S. service members were wounded on Somali soil. It was the first U.S. combat death in the East African country since 1993 — and it came amid ramped-up efforts to fight the deadly extremist group al-Shabab.

For years, Boko Haram has carried the dubious distinction of being Africa’s deadliest terrorist group. But a multinational task force has weakened the group. It has been crippled so badly that al-Shabab has emerged as Africa’s deadliest extremist group.

That is according to a report by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies published in April.…  Seguir leyendo »

Somali soldiers at the scene of a suicide car-bomb attack on a police station in Mogadishu last month. The explosion killed five people and wounded 10. (Mohamed Abdiwahab/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

The United States is getting more involved in Somalia, the nation in the Horn of Africa that has been wrestling with violent conflict and political instability for nearly three decades. Since June, the United States has conducted multiple military operations against al-Shabab militants in the country, pledged $126 million in humanitarian assistance, and announced plans to reestablish  permanent diplomatic representation in the capital in hopes of helping to stabilize the government.

Somalia’s central government’s failure has continued for years — despite hosting a large African Union peacekeeping force and many international military advisers, and receiving a significant amount of development aid.…  Seguir leyendo »

Students in Nairobi protest an attack by gunmen at the Garissa University College in April 2015. Al-Shabab asserted responsibility for the attack. (Thomas Mukoya/Reuters)

On June 14, the terrorist group al-Shabab — an al-Qaeda affiliate — attacked a pizza restaurant in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, by detonating a car bomb and sending in assailants. More than 30 people were killed. Earlier in June, al-Shabab overran a military base in the semiautonomous area of Puntland, killing dozens. The group recently surpassed Boko Haram as the deadliest terrorist organization in Africa.

But it’s not the violence that’s attracting followers. My recent field research in Kenya and Somalia, the two East African countries where al-Shabab is most active, suggests that al-Shabab is thriving because it’s still offering a comparatively attractive alternative to the Somali government.…  Seguir leyendo »

A firefighter trying to extinguish a fire after an attack by the Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab in Mogadishu, Somalia, last year. Credit Feisal Omar/Reuters

The Trump administration has made it clear that the United States will take a more aggressive approach to battling al-Shabaab extremists in Somalia.

In March, President Trump granted the military expanded authorities to operate in Somalia, paving the way for an accelerated military campaign.

By declaring parts of Somalia an “area of active hostilities,” Mr. Trump gave the Department of Defense authority to approve strikes without going through an Obama-era vetting process, which potentially lowers the bar for tolerance of civilian casualties. And the head of American forces in Africa, who advocated the change, said this would “allow us to prosecute targets in a more rapid fashion.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Men unload boxes of nutritional supplements from a helicopter prior to a humanitarian food distribution carried out by the United Nations World Food Programme in Thonyor, Leer county, South Sudan, on 25 February 2017. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola.

The last time the UN declared a famine was in 2011, in Somalia. The last time it faced more than one major famine simultaneously was more than three decades ago. Today we are on the brink of four – in Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan.

The spectre of famine is primarily the result of war, not natural disaster. According to the UN, more than twenty million people, millions of them children, are at risk of starvation. This is happening in man-made crises and under the Security Council’s watch. In some places, the denial of food and other aid is a weapon of war as much as its consequence.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Philippine Coast Guard boat, left, approaches a sinking Filipino fishing boat near Zamboanga City, southern Philippines. Government officials reported several Filipino fishermen on the boat were killed by a group of suspected pirates. (Philippine Coast Guard via AP)

There were fewer than 200 maritime pirate attacks in 2016, the lowest level in more than 20 years. Total global incidents declined nearly 22 percent from 2015 — and nearly 60 percent from 2010, when Somali piracy captured the world’s attention.

But violent pirate attacks increased in two places: the Celebes and Sulu Seas between the Philippines and East Malaysia, and the Gulf of Guinea off the Nigerian coast. In both places the number of pirate attacks more than doubled last year and were closely linked to rebel movement.

Some piracy hot spots — Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh and Vietnam — all experienced significantly less piracy in 2016 compared to 2015.…  Seguir leyendo »

Civilians ride on a Somali police car as they celebrate the election of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed in the streets of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on Feb. 9. (Feisal Omar/Reuters)

After a lengthy electoral process, Somalia got a new president last month, former prime minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud conceded defeat in the Feb. 8 election when he failed to get the plurality of votes needed to win the second round of voting.

This was only the second smooth transfer of power since Somalia’s first direct elections in 1960: Incumbent President Aden Abdulle Osman graciously ceded the 1967 election to Abdirashid Ali Shermarke.

Somalia’s democratic trailblazing in Africa came to a halt in 1969, however, when Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre seized power in a coup. Siad Barre ruled the country until his ouster in 1991, when a civil war ensued.…  Seguir leyendo »

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2017

As Yemen's unremitting conflict continues to drive a nation-wide humanitarian crisis, there is an ever-increasing need to quell hostilities. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017 annual early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to rebuild the credibility of the UN-sponsored talks in order to find a durable ceasefire and work toward a political settlement within Yemen: Yemen: A Humanitarian Catastrophe; A Failing State.

On top of major challenges, including the spillover from the war in Syria, Islamic State terrorism and increasingly heavy-handed governance, Turkey's conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) also reignited last year. …  Seguir leyendo »

« Le groupe Al-Chabab n’est pas le seul acteur de ce conflit, déplore George Fominyen, porte-parole du Programme alimentaire mondial au Soudan du Sud. Une multitude de groupes armés incontrôlables aux alliances mouvantes sont impliqués. Cela nous empêche de nous rendre dans plusieurs régions où nous sommes encore obligés de larguer les vivres par avion. » SIEGFRIED MODOLA / REUTERS.

Les Nations unies ont déclaré officiellement l’état de famine dans certaines régions du Soudan du Sud et il est fort probable que de telles annonces se répètent dans un futur proche.

Près de 20 millions de personnes, réparties entre quatre pays, à savoir le Yémen (14 millions), le Soudan du Sud (5 millions), le Nigeria (5 millions) et la Somalie (3 millions) sont actuellement confrontées à une grave insécurité alimentaire, cela signifie qu’elles sont déjà sous-alimentées et n’ont souvent pas d’autres choix que de vendre leurs actifs pour survivre. Jamais en l’espace de 20 ans, autant de personnes ne se sont retrouvées si près d’une catastrophe humanitaire.…  Seguir leyendo »

Famine used to be one of the world’s most effective killers. A tenth of England’s population died in the Great Famine of 1315. In the mid-17th century starvation wiped out a third of the population of Poland, a tenth of all Scots and a third of all Finns. A million people died in the Irish famine of 1845. Between 108 BC and 1911 there were 1,828 famines in China alone. Every successive century saw a decline in the incidence of famine but 70 million still starved to death during the 20th century. Then, at the start of the 21st century, famine looked to be disappearing.…  Seguir leyendo »

The election of Somalia’s new President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo offers the country’s international partners a new opportunity to step up efforts in advancing peace and stability in Somalia as well as the wider Horn of Africa. Yet the hopes of a stable future for war-torn Somalia may be short lived if the fraught regional dynamic, in particular the mistrust felt by regional powers Ethiopia and Kenya, are not effectively addressed.

Farmajo’s near-landslide election victory on 8 February is without parallel. Although the eruptions of joy across the Somali-speaking Horn and the shared jubilation of citizens and soldiers in Mogadishu is rightly giving way to more sober assessments, the view that a seismic shift has occurred will be difficult to ignore.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of new president Mohamed Abdullahi celebrate in Mogadishu. Photo: Getty Images.

On 8 February, widespread street celebrations took place in Somalia, following the election of its 9th president: Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, nicknamed 'Farmajo'.

A popular former prime minister and dual Somali-US national, his victory has raised hopes that the country remains on track in its gradual emergence from a 30-year civil war—and protracted fight against the insurgency of Islamist militants al Shabaab. Though serious flaws with Somalia’s political system remain, the election was the most extensive effort at a democratic exercise in the country for many decades. Successive peaceful transfers of power hint at emerging layers of democracy not always visible elsewhere on the continent.…  Seguir leyendo »

A girl runs to get a cooked meal at a camp for Somalis displaced by famine in 2011 in Mogadishu. Photo: Getty Images.

The election last week of Somalia’s new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed—known as Farmajo—came at the same time the country was in the news for being one of the seven affected by US President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.

President Mohamed immediately promised a 'new beginning' for his country. He undoubtedly faces monumental political challenges in delivering this, but these may pale into insignificance against a looming famine which needs immediate action and international support if it is to be prevented.

There is nothing new about famine in Somalia. The last one in 2011, killed over a quarter of a million people and is the best-chronicled descent into mass starvation in history.…  Seguir leyendo »

A ballot box in Baidoa. Somalia. Photo by Getty Images.

The Somali presidential elections have been postponed four times since 10 September, reflective of an imperfect process and the country’s many problems. Despite the resolution of contests for over 90 per cent of seats in the lower house, and the selection of a majority of the 54 members of the newly constituted upper house, repeated interruptions and the need to re-contest some seats mean that the selection of the next president and government will be pushed into 2017.

But progress to date also highlights the success of reforms and an evolution of the political transition. Despite its flaws, Somalia has a more competitive electoral process and political landscape than many countries in the Horn of Africa or elsewhere on the continent.…  Seguir leyendo »