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African Union still developing strong and viable framework to continue full transition in Somalia | Coastweek

SOMALIA -- Aerial view of the southern Somali port city of Kismayo. The last bastion of the once feared Al-Qaeda-affiliated extremist group Al Shabaab, Kismayo fell after troops of the Somali National Army (SNA) and the pro-government Ras Kimboni Brigade supported by the Kenyan Contigent of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) entered the port city on 02 October following a two month operation across southern Somalia which saw the liberation of villages and centres along a distance of 120km from Afmadow to Kismayo. [INSET CENTRE] Prior to the civil war, Mogadishu was known as the "White pearl of the Indian Ocean". [RIGHT] Mogadishu avenue, 1963, with the Arba Rucun mosque in the background. WIKIPEDIA PHOTOS - AMISOM ISSUE STUART PRICE, SOMALIWEYN AND MAXAMAD

African Union still developing strong and viable
framework to continue full transition in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said Sunday it has developed as effective framework for the gradual transition of security responsibilities to Somalia’s security institutions.

The AU mission said the Concept of Operations (CONOPS) 2018, once approved by the African Union and senior defense officials of troops-contributing countries, will be crucial for the mission’s quest for a peaceful and democratic Somalia.

"We want to produce a document that is workable, a document that is in a position capable of producing the expected results and we are very much optimistic that we will do it," Francisco Madeira, special representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, said in a statement.

He said CONOPS, which will guide AMISOM’s activities and operations for the 2018-2021 period, marks the final phase of the AU mission’s transition and eventual exit from Somalia.

The AU mission said its peacekeeping force is collaborating with the Somali security forces to build capacity and bring stability in the Horn of Africa nation by setting up governance structures in areas AMISOM had liberated.

The pan-African troops are expected to relinquish the security of the key towns, to the Somali forces, through a conditions-based transition plan, to allow them to take the lead responsibility as part of the planned exit.

The AU mission said the document was agreed during a five-day meeting of the mission’s staff, Somali government officials and representatives of the African Union.

The document details AMISOM’s plans and aspirations that will culminate in the scheduled 2021 one-man-one-vote elections and consequently the gradual transfer of the security responsibilities to Somali security forces.

"This is a very important undertaking and endeavor because it marks a crucial step in a very crucial moment we find ourselves in our efforts in Somalia," Madeira said, noting that the document is a product of "hard-work and open and frank discussions."

The forum, Madeira said, looked into the issue of the mission’s military component and analyzed the way it is working toward delivering a "safe" Somalia to its people.

Resolving the problem in Somalia, Madeira noted, requires more than just the military approach.

"Security is not just a matter of shooting al-Shabab but it is also a matter of extending our hands to those elements of al-Shabab who for whatever reason had slid into violence and extremism and now are willing to abandon that path," he said.

He called on partners, troops and police contributing countries and all Somalis to "put our hands together" to ensure that peace and security is returned in the country.


Fighting uproots 21,000 from homes in Somalia in October: Charity

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- An international charity said Thursday a spike in violence and insecurity in Somalia has forced more than 21,000 people to flee their homes in the country, pushing thousands of families into a humanitarian crisis.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), citing figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) protection and returns monitoring network, urged parties to the conflict to take all precautions to minimize civilian casualties.

"We are alarmed that fighting has forced thousands of people to run for their lives.

"Several of the hardest-hit communities are in insecure areas, where aid agencies are unable to reach them," Victor Moses, country director for NRC, said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

According to the charity, the largest number of people displaced by fighting and insecurity in October was from Lower Shabelle region, followed by Hiran, Bay, and other regions.

It warned that children surviving in the camps are especially vulnerable, noting that without enough food, shelter, clean water and sanitation, they are left vulnerable to disease outbreaks.

"We fear many displaced people will be left without life-saving assistance.

"These families were recovering from last year’s drought, and fighting has now pushed them back into crisis," Moses added.

The charity warned that more regions of the country see rise in fighting in October, pushing thousands of families into crisis as many flee to makeshift camps, surviving in flimsy shelters with little protection from the rains.

The charity called on parties to the conflict to allow free access to humanitarian agencies to safely provide aid, in line with international humanitarian law.

According to the UN, there are 2.6 million people displaced in Somalia from conflict, insecurity, drought and other causes.

The NRC said some 294,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished, of which 55,000 are severely malnourished, putting them at risk of death.

It urged the international community to scale up their support, saying the 2018 UN humanitarian aid appeal for Somalia has received about 857 million U.S. dollars, sharply down from some 1.3 billion dollars in 2017.

United States military says kills 4 al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The U.S. military said on Sunday that it conducted an airstrike near Araara, in southern Somalia, on Saturday, killing four al-Shabab militants.

The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said the air raid was carried out in cooperation with the Somali government.

"We currently assess this airstrike killed four terrorists. We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed in this airstrike," AFRICOM said in a statement.

The U.S. military said the airstrike was conducted after armed militants were maneuvering to attack partner forces during a patrol.

"No U.S. service members were present on the ground during this Somali-led operation," said AFRICOM.

U.S. forces, in cooperation with Somali government and African Union peacekeeping mission troops, are conducting operations against al-Shabab in Somalia to degrade the al-Qaida affiliate’s ability to recruit, train and plot external terror attacks.

United Nations cautions stand-off in Somalia could ruin stabilization efforts

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The UN top envoy in Somalia has cautioned that a stand-off between Somali government and regional leaders could scuttle international community’s efforts to stabilize the Horn of Africa nation.

Nicholas Haysom, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, renewed his call for collaboration to solve ongoing tensions between the country’s federal and state authorities.

"We are exploring ways of bringing them together in the hope that Somalis can face down their problems together rather than going separately," Haysom said in a statement issued by the UN Mission in Somalia on Wednesday night.

The UN envoy’s remarks come as political impasse continues after leaders of five Somali regional states on Sept. 8 suspended relations with the central government due to lack of political and security progress in the Horn of Africa nation.

The leaders from Jubaland, Puntland, Southwest, Galmudug and Hirshabelle regions accuse the government of interfering with regional issues, failure to implement security architecture and not fulfilling political agreements.

"Basically, we have been telling them that what we are facing is a quite serious political issue - the stand-off between the Federal Member States and the Federal Government may well paralyze our efforts to help Somalia get back on its feet," he added, according to the statement.

WHO seeks to contain cholera outbreak in Somalia amid decline in cases

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) is stepping up measures to contain cholera outbreak in Somalia amid decline in the number of cases and deaths in the past month.

The UN health agency, which cited figures from the Health Ministry of Somalia, said 32 new suspected cases of cholera, including one death were reported between Oct. 15-21.

"Since week 28 (seven weeks), there has been a significant downward trend in the number of new suspected cholera cases reported from different treatment facilities," WHO said in its latest report released on Friday.

"The cumulative total of cases is 6,498, including 43 associated deaths (case-fatality rate 0.6 percent), since the beginning of the current outbreak in December 2017 along the Shabelle River," it added.

Cholera is a gastrointestinal disease, usually spread by contaminated water and food, and can cause severe diarrhea that, in extreme cases, lead to fatal dehydration and kidney failure within hours.

According to WHO, the outbreak has spread in the south and central regions and the effected districts include Jowhar, Kismayo, Bulobarde, Afgoye, Merka and Banadir.

However, it said the trend of cases has been declining in the past seven weeks, noting that only Banader region has been reporting cases and deaths in the last three weeks.

The UN health agency has called for robust investments in Somalia’s fragile health care infrastructure as a means to accelerate the country’s reconstruction after two and a half decades of civil strife.

WHO, which has been training several health workers in Somalia to help cope with the diseases, has also urged greater investments in surveillance infrastructure to enhance timely response to disease outbreaks in Somalia.

Somalia urged to end violence against journalists

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somali journalists have appealed to the government for efforts to end impunity and violence against media workers after the murder of three colleagues in 2018.

The National Union of Somalia Journalists (NUSOJ) also called on the government to arrest the perpetrators of such heinous acts, saying in all cases journalists have been murdered, their killers have never been apprehended.

"I am deeply saddened that Somalia still remains in the top-list of the countries that journalist are murdered and culprits go unpunished.

|We need to improve this situation," Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, NUSOJ general secretary, said in a statement issued on Thursday evening.

Moalimuu said the government is responsible for the safety and protection of journalists and media workers against any threats or physical violation of their right to life and integrity by its security forces and other non-state actors.

"The high levels of violence against journalists are unacceptably high and there is an urgent need for the government to protect and enforce journalists’ basic right to life," he added.

According to the union, eleven journalists and media workers including two female journalists were killed in Somalia while performing their duties between 2016 to 2018.

The statement comes barely a week after a radio journalist was killed by unknown gunmen on Oct. 27 in Mogadishu.

Two unidentified gunmen shot Abdullahi Mire Hashi in the town of Elasha Biyaha, about 17 km from the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

No arrest has been made so far.

The Horn of Africa nation remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists with dozens having been killed, maimed or forced to leave the country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says about 25 journalists have been murdered with complete impunity between September 1, 2008 and Aug. 31.



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