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Somalia government forces vacate military bases over salary row

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somali government forces have vacated three military bases to protest non-payment of salaries, a move that may jeopardize years of security gains, officials and local residents said on Wednesday.

Security officials who declined to be named said the Somalia National Army (SNA) soldiers vacated three bases in middle Shebelle, stoking fear among the residents that the al-Qaida allied terrorist group, al-Shabab may take over the abandoned bases.

"We are on our way to Mogadishu.

"The security forces have not been paid for several months," a security officer who requested anonymity said, adding that the withdrawal was to protest the non-payment of salaries.

However, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire refuted the allegations, saying the SNA soldiers are paid regularly and on time.

Khaire said the soldiers who have not received their salaries refused to register themselves under the biometric system which was put in place to weed out fraud.

"We have paid salaries and allowances regularly to our armed forces who have registered in our biometric system via their bank account," Khaire said at a forum in Mogadishu, calling on the protesting soldiers to register in order to receive their salaries.

The U.S., EU and the United Arab Emirates are some of the countries which have been helping the Somali government to pay salaries for the security forces.

  Somalia government forces vacate military bases over salary row | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Africa Union Special Representative for Somalia Francisco Caetano Madeira (2nd L) visits an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldier recuperating at a hospital in Nairobi. Francisco Caetano Madeira on Thursday expressed satisfaction with the treatment being administered on injured peacekeepers in various medical institutions in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. XINHUA PHOTO - CHARLES ONYANGO
Experts have warned that the move to abandon military bases may expose the Horn of Africa nation to al-Shabab threats.

The military group on Monday briefly captured Bal’ad town, about 30 km north of the Somali capital Mogadishu, burnt battle wagons and freed detainers, but were overpowered by government forces backed by the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) has refuted reports that it was planning to evacuate its staff in Somalia due to the current security situation.

"Rumors of a crisis meeting and evacuation of UN Somalia staff are completely unfounded.

"No such meeting has taken place and there are no evacuation plans underway," UNSOM said on Wednesday evening.


Amid rising attacks, Somalia determined to defeat terrorism

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The Somali government has vowed to step up efforts against terrorism and urged the international community to support Mogadishu in its stabilization efforts.

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire convened an emergency meeting on Saturday evening with envoys from the African Union, Britain, the European Union and the United States after 11 people were killed and 15 others injured in a terrorist attack, the ministry of information said in a statement on Sunday.

"The Somali government leader’s first priority is to ensure the safety and security in Somalia," the statement said.

It said the meeting revised military support and strategies in countering terrorism and threats posed by al-Shabab.

The meeting also discussed strategies of recapturing al-Shabab strongholds.

During the meeting, the statement said, Khaire promised to wipe out the terrorist groups.

The foreign envoys supported the security strategy and the efforts aimed at eliminating al-Shabab terrorists, the statement said.

Al-Qaida allied al-Shabab, which is fighting to topple the internationally-backed government, has claimed responsibility for recent attacks.

The group stages frequent attacks on Somali troops and African Union peacekeeping forces, and on hotels and other public places.

Somalia mourns death of deputy minister in terror attack

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somali government on Saturday mourned the death of deputy minister for labor and social affairs Saqar Ibrahim Abdalla who was among six people killed in the car bombing attack in Mogadishu.

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire led other government officials in sending condolences messages to the families of the victims killed when suicide car bombing hit government buildings housing ministries of and public works.

The prime minister also condemned the terrorist attack and vowed to defeat extremism.

A security officer said five al-Shabab attackers were killed during the operation, adding that gunfire was heard at the building housing the two ministries.

The al-Shabab, an al-Qaida linked terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming one of its fighters entered the two buildings with a car laden with explosives and carried out the attack.

The latest attack came as Somali security forces are vacating their military bases in protest of unpaid salaries, stoking fear among the residents that the al-Shabab may take over the abandoned bases.

However, the government refuted such allegations, saying the soldiers are paid regularly and on time, adding that soldiers who have not received their salaries refused to register themselves under biometric system which was put in place to weed out fraud.


About 1.7 million people in need of humanitarian aid in Somaliland: charity

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- An estimated 1.7 million people are in critical need of humanitarian assistance in self-declared semi-autonomous region of Somaliland with poor rains and prolonged dry spells since 2016 deepening the crisis, a global charity warned on Wednesday.

Oxfam International said communal water resources are drying up at an alarming rate, forcing communities to truck in water that they can’t afford.

"The warning signs are all negative. Famine was averted in 2016 because of a rapid, large-scale response.

"Resources and action must again be forthcoming, prioritized for women and children, who are the most vulnerable," Amjad Ali, Oxfam’s country director in Somalia and Somaliland said in a statement.

The charity warned that the 1.7 million figure increased by hundreds of thousands in recent months.

According to the charity, an estimated 4.9 million people across Somaliland and Somalia are food insecure and 2.6 million internally displaced, of a population estimated at 14-15 million.

The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan is only 6.4 percent funded, leaving a gaping hole, Oxfam said and warned that resources are urgently needed to avert catastrophe.

The charity said below average rainfall in late 2018 provided scant relief, as most communities remain unable to rebuild livestock herds to utilize the very limited new pasture.

It said vulnerabilities were further exacerbated by the devastation of cyclone Sagar in mid-2018 that killed an estimated 80 percent of livestock in affected areas and decimated the few agricultural crops Somaliland grows with coastal areas, Togdheer, Sool and Sanaag being the regions hardest hit.

Ali said Oxfam has been closely monitoring the unfolding situation through an existing response in these regions, deciding it is now time to raise the alarm.

"The decision to declare an emerging crisis is not taken lightly, as we are wary of donor fatigue, but the situation is bleak.

"As existing humanitarian support was scheduled to scale down, we are seeing a humanitarian cliff before our eyes. We must not walk blindly over the edge," said Ali.

UN relief agency says dry spell may worsen humanitarian crisis in Somalia

MOGADISHU (Xinhua) -- Dry conditions have worsened in Somalia with humanitarian partners across the country reporting critical water shortages during the month of February, the UN relief agency said on Monday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said aid agencies have already observed stress-induced migration among pastoralist communities in the worst-hit areas in Somaliland and Puntland with some moving to urban centres in search of day labor or to join relatives.

"The current rainfall projection indicates normal-to above-average precipitation across most of the country; even in the drought-affected areas of Somaliland, the likelihood of normal rainfall is around 70 per cent," OCHA said in its latest humanitarian report.

The Horn of Africa nation experienced a prolonged drought from late 2016 through late 2017 that resulted in significant livestock losses and consecutive seasons of below-average production, causing severe and at times extreme acute food insecurity.

The UN humanitarian agency said the dry conditions follow a poor 2018 Deyr rainy season (from October to December), even as ongoing conflict and forced evictions continue to disproportionately affect those who are already displaced.

"If the next Gu (main rainy) season (from April to June) performs poorly, those in the Stressed phase may find their situation deteriorating further," it warned.



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