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Somalia says ready to take over security
tasks from African Union troops

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The Somali government has assured the African Union (AU) and the United Nations of its commitment to take over security responsibilities from the AU troops in the country as stipulated in the transition plan.

National Security Advisor of the government, Abdisaid Musse Ali, told a joint team from the AU and the UN reviewing the Mission that there was political will from the presidency and the government that was ready to handle the country’s security.

“The transition plan represents a significant change in the planning and delivery of security in Somalia. It’s not business as usual,” he said in a statement issued on Sunday from AMISOM.

“For many years, Somalia has been grateful for the strong support of our international partners which has allowed the country to make progress,” he added during a high-level of AU-UN joint review team and international partners held in Mogadishu.

Ali asked the team not to judge Somalia by its past but what it is today and what it will be in future, noting that the transition plan is aimed at securing Somalia, through the implementation of the security architecture developed and adopted by the government in 2017.

The AU-UN joint review team is in Somalia meeting various stakeholders and will present its report to the UN Security Council ahead of a meeting to decide on the extension of AMISOM’s mandate which expires on May 31.

Francisco Madeira, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia said the peacekeeping force had always had an exit strategy.

Madeira who is also the head of AMISOM said the Mission has fully identified itself with the transition plan developed by the Somali government, with the help of development partners.

“All the things that are showing up now, in this transition plan, were already at the centre of AMISOM’s action plan. We need to build a state and building a state meant the Somalis needed to take responsibility not only of the military but also of the administration of the country,” he added.

Madeira added that the peacekeeping force had envisaged the transition plan in driving out al-Shabab in most places and rebuilding institutions that are now ready to be handed over to the Somali government.

He said he had seen profound determination from the government to take over the responsibilities currently being undertaken by AMISOM in the country.

AMISOM has developed conditions-based transition plan to transfer the national security responsibility from the AU troops to the Somali security forces guided by the rule of law and respect for human rights.

According to AU mission, the tasks which will be undertaken through joint efforts between AMISOM and Somalia National Army include securing of Main Supply Routes, securing of key population centres; as well as mentoring the Somali security forces in the military and Police.

Walid Musa Abdelkarim, the head of the UN delegation to the Joint AU-UN Review of AMISOM, acknowledged that there had been significant political progress since the joint mission was in Somalia a year ago.

“We now are convinced that the geopolitical position or status of Somalia is rising, increasing every day because of global events and therefore we will have this time a more serious tone in what we do,” Abdelkarim noted.



Somalia and AU mission plan to set up community radio stations to foster peace

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The Somali government and the Africa Union mission (AMISOM) plan to establish communities radio stations in three regional states in June as part of efforts to foster peace in the country, officials said.

The UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) which is supporting the project said in a statement on Thursday evening that the community radio stations will be established in HirShabelle, Jubbaland and South West.

“The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and the three federal member states have already approved the project, which will be launched in Kismayo, Baidoa and Belet Weyne,” UNSOS said.

Speaking at a meeting attended by key stakeholders including representatives of community based organizations in Mogadishu, both AU and Somali government officials hailed UNSOS for supporting the initiative aimed at promoting peace and unity in communities.

“I want to thank UNSOS specifically for availing the equipment and for responding to your application through AMISOM to have these radios,” said Simon Mulongo, the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia.

It is hoped that the community radios will help inform and alter attitudes, by providing the ordinary people with a voice, thereby empowering them, through targeted messaging on issues such as peace-building, countering violent extremism, constitutional review and the 2020 elections and federalism among others.

Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed, Director of Communication in the Office the President, said the government was grateful to UNSOS for its role in making the project a reality.

“I want to thank UNSOS and AMISOM for the support in establishing these radios,” Ahmed said.

The UN support mission offered to provide the equipment for the establishment of community radio stations in the three federal member states following a request by community based organizations, channeled through AMISOM.


AU to help Somali police set up communication centers

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said it will help Somali police Force (SPF) to establish communication offices in all the federal states to help improve relations between security officers and the public.

Leon Ngulube, Acting AMISOM Police Training Coordinator, said in a statement issued on Sunday that communication offices will be managed by trained officers who will be responsible of keeping the public informed and educated on SPF activities and other government matters.

“As AMISOM police together with your police command, we sat to see how best we can operationalize your offices also bearing in mind the need to develop personnel who will be able to be voices of the Somali Police Force,” said Ngulube when he closed a week-long training course for Somali police officers.

He urged the officers to apply what they have learnt in their daily duties to help SPF communicate with the public effectively.

“We hope that you the trained officers in this respect will be able to explain and disseminate police achievements and counter information and the dissemination of ideological based information aimed at disrupting the milestones and achievements that you have made in the past as Somali Police Force,” he added.

The training was aimed at strengthening relations between security officers and the public and help Somali Police establish communication departments, within the force, in all the federal member states.

During the training, the participants were taken through a range of topics, among them, fostering relations between the police and the media, social media as a tool of information dissemination, public relations and media awareness and practice.

Hassan Alasow Mahamed, the director of Training and Planning lauded AMISOM Police for the continuous training aimed at building the capacity of the SPF to enable it perform its core function of keeping law and order effectively.

“We will recommend for the establishment of communications departments in every federal member state and the lessons gained from here is crucial for enhancing relations between the police and the public,” he added.


U.S. military probes Somali civilian casualty in raid

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The U.S. military said on Friday that it will investigate local reports that its forces killed civilians during an operation conducted in Somalia on Wednesday.

The U.S. Africa Command (Africom), which oversees American troops on the African continent, said its special forces, in an advise-and-assist capacity, partnered in a Somali-led operation to disrupt and degrade al-Shabab’s terrorist network near Bulcida on the outskirts of Afgoye in southern Somalia.

“We are aware of reports alleging civilian casualties resulting from this operation, and we take these reports seriously. As with any allegations of civilian casualties we receive, U.S. Africa Command will review any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties,” Africom said in a statement.

“If the information supporting the allegation is determined to be credible, USAFRICOM will determine the next appropriate step,” it added. 

Local officials said at least five people were killed during the operation that targeted key al-Shabab commanders. The militant group has several training camps in the area.

At least ten civilians were killed in Barire in August 2017 forcing the government to compensate the families after it admitted those killed were civilians.

The U.S. government however maintained the dead were al-Shabab terrorists although it did not offer details of the investigations.

Survivors and relatives of the deadly raid in Barire had said they wanted blood money and an apology from the U.S. government.

Washington has stepped up operations in the Horn of Africa nation in the past one year, killing several militants after President Donald Trump softened restrictions on the military in March 2017.

Africom said the U.S. Department of Defense is fully committed to countering the threat of global terrorism, and will continue to support capable partners in the region.

“In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces partner with AMISOM and Somali forces in combined counterterrorism operations and targeting terrorists, their training camps, and their safe havens throughout Somalia and the region,” it said.


Somali female graduate ventures into meat chop business to beat unemployment

MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) -- Sumaya Nur Abdi, a 23-year-old female university graduate set her sights on entrepreneurship with the knowledge that formal employment was a mirage in her strife-torn and economically depressed country.

Abdi’s quest to become self-employed was the reason behind her unmatched entrepreneur drive that led to her opening a meat chops business to the delight of her next of kin and peers.

Meat chops, locally known as odka, is a delicacy in Somalia but there is one catch: it is only available when couples wed.

A new groom would always host his close friends to odka shortly after the wedding day. Somalis have a common phrase that if you want to know you have a good mother-in-law, taste her odka.

But Abdi is now challenging the norm and making odka an everyday delicacy.

“I realized people really wanted odka but could not get it on a regular basis,” Abdi told Xinhua during a recent interview.

“After I started this business, I received several orders every day,” she added. Abdi currently prepares the meat chops in her home and distributes them to people in offices and homes and some are based on orders.

“I decided to go full time in the business after I discovered there was a huge opportunity here,” Abdi said.

“But I also wanted to produce something special and of good quality for Somali people,” She added.

The savvy entrepreneur who has now carved her own niche says she had the dream of not only supplying the product to the local market but also overseas in the near future.

Over 2 million Somalis live outside the country and Abdi said she has the ambition of serving native delicacy fellow citizens abroad.

Just like any other business, Abdi has to contend with some challenges as she climbs up the ladder. “Our main challenge is that there are no home addresses in Mogadishu,” Abdi told Xinhua.

“When a client makes an order, you communicate on phone but then have to stand on the roadside as you await them. Sometimes you have to wait for a long time and the person may not even appear and when you try calling, the number may be switched off,” she added.

But that has not deterred her from moving on with her business which she says is now picking up well and meeting her bills.

Some customers now have positive reviews about her business.

“I really appreciate this delicacy and thank Sumaya for her efforts,” Abukar Mohamed, a client told Xinhua.

“I enjoy the meat and I hope many other Somalis will find it delicious,” he added.

Mohamed added that Abdi has made life easy for many Somalis who don’t have the patience and time to prepare the meat chops.

“It takes quite some time to prepare odka and also requires quite some good knowledge to make a good one. That is why it is only prepared during weddings for the groom and the bride and for some special cases but Sumaya has made all that easy for us,” said Mohamed.

Nuradin Haji, who is in the growing list of odka clients, said the meat has replaced his normal rice and pasta for lunch.

“I normally order this special meat when I am at work and very busy. So I have it for lunch,” said Haji adding that the beauty of odka is that it can last for a whole month if it is well preserved and dry.

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