Somalia Week in Focus: Top Stories (Feb. 17, 2017)

Week ending February 17, 2017 

Somalia drought is worsening, UN warns

Drought conditions are becoming worse in parts of Somalia, according to the UN and aid agencies.

The World Food Program (WFP) and the UNHCR (High Commissioner for Refugees) have requested for US$450 million to continue providing urgent assistance and livelihood support to drought victims.

About 6.2 Somalis are in need of livelihood support, nearly half the country’s population. The drought has impacted southern areas, including areas controlled by Al Shabaab, and also the northern regions of Somaliland and Puntland.

Somalia’s federal government established a ministerial-level National Drought Relief Committee to oversee drought relief and support operations.

Somali government rejects UAE military base in Somaliland

This week, a Somali federal government official came out strongly against the military base agreement signed between Somaliland and the United Arab Emirates government.

Somali Auditor-General Nur Jimale Farah told VOA that Somali and Somaliland officials visited Dubai and were “corrupted with bags full of cash to sign the agreement”.

Abdiwahab Abdisamad, a Horn of Africa analyst, told VOA that the former Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s administration approved the UAE military base in Somaliland, adding: “Somaliland put it into vote at its parliament, only to send a message that it is a Somaliland project rather than a Somalia project”.

The UAE military base in the northern port of Berbera is also facing opposition from Somaliland political parties Wadani and UCID. 144 out of 151 legislators representing both houses of Somaliland parliament approved the agreement on Feb. 12. However, House Speaker Abdirahman Irro has rejected the vote and the deal as “illegal”, and claimed that parliament was “hijacked” at a press conference.

It was the first sign of political tension between the separatist region of Somaliland and the new federal government in Mogadishu, led by new President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

Militants welcome new president with Mogadishu mortar attack

Al Shabaab militants continue waging a decade-long insurgency to unseat Somalia’s federal government.

This week, suspected militants conducted a nighttime raid on a Somali army base in Bal’ad, 30km north of Mogadishu.

Two days later on Feb. 15, militants launched mortar rounds in Mogadishu, as new Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud were attending a takeover ceremony at the Villa Somalia presidential compound.

The AP reported that at least two civilians were killed when mortars hit residential areas near Villa Somalia.

Somaliland requests exemption from Trump ban

The foreign minister of Somaliland, a self-declared nation that has not been recognized internationally, has officially requested the US government to exempt Somaliland from President Donald Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia.

The US government recognizes Somalia as a single nation, thus ensuring that people from unrecognized Somaliland are included in the travel ban.

Somaliland’s foreign minister, Sa’ad Ali Shire, argued in the letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Somaliland does have “deteriorating conditions” that form the basis for Trump’s travel ban.

Former Puntland president buried in Bossaso

The former president of Puntland state of Somalia General Mohamud (Adde) Muse Hersi Bogor was laid to rest on Feb. 14 in a state funeral in the northern port of Bossaso.

Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas, former Somali Prime Ministers Ali Mohamed Gedi and Omar Ali Sharmake, Puntland officials, elders and civil society were present for the state funeral.

Gen. Adde Muse served as Puntland president from January 2005 to January 2009. His administration was known for its role in restarting oil exploration in Puntland attracting foreign investors.

Source: Somali Review