Tag Archives: Somalia

Somalia: A Country in Flux

A rough approximation of a Greater Somalia inc...

Photo: Ramadan in Somalia: Men pray at a mosque in Mogadishu, Somalia, during the holy month of Ramadan. UN Photo/Ilyas A Abukar

Even though there was much fanfare and optimism coming out of Somalia a year ago as a new government was put in place and a new constitution was ushered in , the Horn of Africa country is now mired in an internal fight between the government and the Islamist group, Al Shabab, and is making worldwide headlines again. This time the news isn’t favorable.

Last week Doctors Without Borders announced it had pulled out of Somalia after 22 years working in the country. Vital medical services across Somalia have been halted and Somalian workers who have partnered with Doctors Without Borders throughout the years have lost their jobs. Attacks on its staff was cited as the primary reason for the pullout.

Additionally, another Somalian journalist was killed on Saturday in Mogadishi. Eighteen journalists were killed last year alone in Somalia according to the New York Times based on information from Reporters Without Borders.

Last week the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also declared an increase in sexual and gender-based violence in Somalia during the first six months of the year. Over 800 cases of sexual and gender-based violence were reported. Many of these cases involved children.

“Rapes continue to be perpetrated by unknown armed men and men wearing military uniform,” OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke stated in a UN News Center press release. “Sexual and gender-based violence also includes domestic violence, harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, and early and forced marriage, he said, adding that the majority of the survivors were women aged 18 and above.”

Due to the increased violence UNICEF has stepped in to provide help to women and girls such as distributing fuel-efficient stoves because most attacks occur while gathering fire wood for cooking and bathing. UNICEF has also provided socio-economic support as well as psychological services for victims of violence.

And finally and somewhat even more troubling is the recent outbreak in Somalia and neighboring Kenya in a mostly Somali refugee camp, Daddab. 105 polio cases were confirmed on Friday, more than all of the polio cases reported elsewhere in the world.

English: Greater Somalia drawn on old politica...

Somalia Celebrates 53rd Independence Day

While we celebrated our Independence Day here in the United States today, Somalia — a country that is currently undergoing a transition to a more stable government — celebrated its Independence on July 1st, 53 years after achieving freedom from British and Italian colonial rule. A colorful celebration took place at Konis Stadium in Mogadishu after several years of internal turmoil with Al-Shabaab, its eventual ousting, and the gradual transition to a new government last year.

President Hassan Sheik Mohamud was in attendance at the newly resurfaced Konis Stadium along with military and government officials. The ceremony and celebration were televised live on national television. “I’d like to congratulate all Somali people, everywhere, on the 53rd anniversary of our independence and unity. It’s the day when the name of Somalia was established in the world,” said President Mohamud.

AMISOM

There was much to celebrate this year as the the UN mandated presence in Somalia of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has taken hold of most of Somalia save for a few Al-Shabaab strongholds. AMISOM congratulated Somalia on its independence, but duly noted the future challenges of the country.

“The Somali people have demonstrated their unwavering resolve to take charge of their country’s destiny and they are working hard to see their ideal state take shape. Despite all the challenges facing the country, recent developments are encouraging and show that the gains are irreversible,” said Ambassador Annadif while promising AMISOM’s unwavering commitment to Somalia.

While celebrations rang out in Somalia, global celebrations took place around the world. Somalians in Minneapolis, where the largest population of Somalis live in the United States, celebrated at the Somali Independence Festival on June 30.

This year’s Independence Day ushered in another year of freedom from colonial rule for Somalia, but it still has other foes to contend with. Just last month the United Nations Common Compound in Mogadishu was attacked by Al-Shabaab and deadly feuds still occur in cities where Al-Shabaab still holds power or are clinging to it. Nevertheless, Somalia is fighting for country-wide autonomy with the help of the African Union and the United Nations. Perhaps its Independence celebration next year will be absent of any news of continued internal turmoil within its borders.

10 Global Development Stories to be Thankful For

Typically when we think of global development we focus on everything that is wrong because the challenges are so great. Rarely are the successes celebrated because with every move towards a goal there is still so much to do.

Today we are featuring those stories that have been more about success than failure; more about moving forward than moving backward even if the net result only makes a small dent in the overall scheme of things.

    1. Female Genital Mutilation Banned Under New Somalian Constitution
    2. Path’s Sure Start Program Ensures the Reduction of Maternal Mortality
    3. Living, Thriving with HIV/AIDS: A Mother’s Story
    4. A Return to Normalcy: Mogadishu’s Lido Beach Lively Again
    5. Somalia’s Concerted Move Toward Gender Equality
    6. Men March Against Child Marriage in Liberia
    7. A Promising Trend for Data,Transparency
    8. New Fishing, Agricultural Development Project in Haiti
    9. Quick Impact Project Provides Education for Darfur Children
    10. Powering the Country With Wind Energy

What global development stories are you thankful for?

Photo: Jennifer James, Kenya

A Return to Normalcy: Mogadishu’s Lido Beach Lively Again

A scene from Lido Beach in Mogadishu, Somalia, with a boy (on right) holding up a shirt to dry in the wind.

The beach has become a popular hangout spot for hundreds of Somalis since the withdrawal in August 2011 of the Al Shabaab militant extremist group, which had banned any such social gatherings of men and women.

09 November 2012/ UN Photo: Stuart Price

Former Somali Child Soldiers Turned Over to UNICEF

There are over 300,000 children who are engaged in warfare and combat around the world according to UNICEF. This is despite 2002′s Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which outlaws children under the age of 18 (it was formerly 15 years of age) from being a part of armed conflict. In July 2002 when the Statute of the International Criminal Court was ratified it made recruiting, training, and forcing children to fight a war crime.

Oftentimes when children have been separated from their families it is easier for rebel groups and political organizations to recruit them to fight in war. Children who become child soldiers are threatened with death and the death of their families if they don’t kill, are typically given drugs to keep them in a foggy state, and are kept in a constant state of isolation.

Since the mid-1980′s UNICEF has helped rehabilitate child soldiers and re-acclimate them back into civilian life. In many instances the release of child soldiers requires consistent and steady negotiations for their release.

On  November 1, 2012 in Mogadishu, Somalia former child soldiers enlisted by Al-Shabaab were handed over to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) after their capture by forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Somalia’s Concerted Move Toward Gender Equality

One of the big international stories of the year is Somalia’s new government. The United Nations helped usher through the “Roadmap for the End of Transition” from a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to fair elections held on September 10, 2012. Secretary Clinton praised the signatories of the transition in late August and some experts say the September elections were the fairest in Somalia in 42 years.

Since the new government took office there have been small, yet noticeable moves toward gender parity in Somalia, mostly coming through training programs led by the UN mandated presence in Somalia of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Set to expire on October 31, 2012 the UN Security Council met last week and temporarily extended AMISOM’s mandate in resolution 2072 (2012) through November 7, 2012. The Security Council also adopted a statement promoting the role of women in peace and security.

The Security Council holds a meeting while the United Nations head quarters building is closed due to Hurricane Sandy. Security Council take a vote 15 in favor to textend the joint UN AU mission in Somalia UN Photo/Mark Garten

Yesterday, Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan, was named Somalia’s first woman foreign minister.

“This is a triumph for Somalia and Somali women. It heralds a new page in politics,” she said.

Female genital mutilation was banned by its new constitution, and AMISOM has proactively included women on the front-lines of security. In fact, since 2011 1800 women have been recruited by the Somali police to usher in peace and stability in Somalia.

Policemen at General Kaahiye Police Academy undergo training in criminal investigation. The training is being provided by AMISOM’s Police Training and Development Unit and hopes to equip Mogadishu with a team of police officers that will effectively be able to deal with criminal investigations. AU-UN IST PHOTO / TOBIN JONES.

 

Yesterday U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman met with with the new leaders of Somalia and stated Somalia is now “a place of hope, not of despair.” Sherman is the highest ranking US official to visit Somalia in over 20 years according to RTT news.

To read more about AMISOM’s role in Somalia visit amisom-au.org

Featured photo caption: AMISOM Trains Members of Somalia Police Force
The Police Training and Development Unit of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) conducts a two-week training programme in criminal investigation at General Kaahiye Police Academy in Mogadishu, for 160 policemen and policewomen of the Somalia Police Force. UN Photo/Tobin Jones

Somali policewomen taking part in the training programme.
21 October 2012

Female Genital Mutilation Banned Under New Somalian Constitution

Somalia has a new government and with it a new provision in its constitution in Title 2: Article 15: Liberty and Security of the Person that bans female genital mutilation (FGM). The new law states:

Circumcision of girls is a cruel and degrading customary practice, and is tantamount to torture. The circumcision of girls is prohibited.

According to several reports between 90% to 95% of all girls undergo female genital mutilation in Somalia. FGM is a procedure where the outside of girls’ genitals (clitoris) is removed in order to take away sexual feeling from the vagina. It is a cultural practice to keep girls pure for marriage, but causes undue health problems throughout one’s life including urinary tract and bladder infections, infertility, cysts, and a need for later surgeries according to the World Health Organization.

While this new law in the Somalian constitution is a move in the right direction it will be another fight entirely to enforce it.

UN Photo/Stuart Price