Somalia Week in Focus: Top Stories (Nov. 18, 2016)

 Week ending November 18, 2016 

Caretaker president calls for ‘urgent aid’ amidst worsening drought 

Somalia’s caretaker president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has reiterated calls for “urgent aid” amidst worsening drought conditions in many regions of the country. 

The UN says that large territories across Somalia “remain atypically dry”, due to little or no Deyr seasonal rainfall.

“I appeal to the Somali people, wherever they are all over the world to help and stand shoulder to shoulder with their suffering Somali people who lack food and water due to the drought in the country,” the president said. 

Citing the humanitarian situation, international aid groups have called for “urgent attention from all actors”.

Amnesty International criticizes Kenya on forced repatriation of refugees

Amnesty International has criticized the Kenyan government for a program of forceful repatriations of Somali refugees, in a damning report entitled, “Nowhere Else to Go: Forced Returns of Somali Refugees From Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya”.

One Dadaab resident told Amnesty International: “They [the Kenyan authorities] are pushing us to Somalia. They came to our block areas with microphones and said: “You have to go register yourselves to go to Somalia… If you don’t go register yourself now you will have to go on foot with your babies on your backs.”

Amnesty International’s deputy director for East Africa, Michelle Kagari, said the “international community should be working with Kenya to ensure long-term sustainable solutions” instead of “increased restrictions on Somali refugees”. 

Last month, the Norwegian Refugee Councils’ Jan Egeland told the media that the refugee program was “no longer voluntary, dignified nor safe”. 

Doctors Without Borders’ report included a survey of camp residents, whereby an overwhelming 86% said, that “neither they nor anyone in their household intended to move to Somalia”.

In August, the UN officials defended Kenya over allegations of forced repatriation of refugees, which is considered a violation of international law.

US air strike was ‘self-defense’, killed ‘local militia forces’ 

The US military issued a statement this week regarding a Sept. 28th air strike that killed 10 combatants in near Mudug region, central Somalia.

The statement came at the conclusion of a military investigation, commenced after the federal government of Somalia condemned the U.S. air strike, saying that the fighters were part of Galmudug local forces. Galmudug officials have demanded compensation.

“A review of the strike, which began Oct. 4, determined that ‘The armed fighters were initially believed to be al-Shabaab but with further review it was determined they were local militia forces,’” read the statement, according to Reuters.

AMISOM countries reject EU’s Burundi soldiers salary plan 

East African countries who have peacekeepers deployed in Somalia on a UN-endorsed African Union mission (AMISOM) are engaged in a public dispute over salaries with the European Union, the biggest donor to the mission.

Kenya’s Daily Nation reported that the disagreement sparked after EU plans to directly pay Burundian contingent of AMISOM “in a bid to avoid payments to [Burundian] soldiers being diverted to the Burundi Presidency”. 

AMISOM member nations – Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia – rejected the EU decision and called on the EU to “reverse this decision, which could have far-reaching negative consequences on AMISOM operations and overall security gains achieved in Somalia”.

In February, the EU announced a 20% budget cut to AMISOM funding. Uganda’s army chief, General Katumba Wamala, has said that AMISOM is “not sustainable”. 

Puntland and Galmudug agree to second ceasefire deal

The Somali regional authorities of Puntland and Galmudug signed a second ceasefire agreement in Galkayo this week.

The first ceasefire agreement, signed in Abu Dhabi on November 4th, collapsed quickly. Two days later, more than 31 people were killed in some of the heaviest fighting yet.

There has not been any reported ceasefire violation after the second deal, under which the two sides agreed to stop fighting and to restart dialogue at a meeting in Kismayo on November 20th. 

The agreement also called on the parties “to sincerely discuss issues that caused the dispute” at the Kismayo talks. 

International aid agencies are concerned that the 75,000 civilians displaced by the Galkayo fighting is “compounding the humanitarian situation” for Somali families in those regions.

UN Special Envoy to Somalia Michael Keating said: “A ceasefire mechanism and withdrawal of fighting on both sides is essential for conflict resolution. No-one will gain from a resumption of fighting, and the local population on both sides will suffer further”. 

Source: Somali Review