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

 Week ending March 17, 2017

“Largest humanitarian crisis” in 72 years, says UN

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien announced this week that a humanitarian crises across four countries has become the “largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN” in 1945.

UN officials have been asking world governments and donor nations to speed up food assistance and livelihood support for some 20 million in Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan, and northeast Nigeria.

Mr. O’Brien said: “Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease.”

In Somalia, some 6.2 million people (more than half the country’s population) need of food assistance.

UK Foreign Secretary visits Mogadishu

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Mogadishu on March 15, in a bid aimed at boosting support for new Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and announcing Britain’s aid to support drought relief efforts in Somalia.

Mr. Johnson said: “Drought, a problem like that, is fundamentally something that is caused by human agency or lack of human agency, poor government, corruption, the struggle that you have against terrorism and there we are very proud to be supporting you as well”.

He announced 110 million GBP in additional assistance to Somali drought relief efforts.

Mr. Farmajo partly blamed the drought on Al Shabaab militant group’s efforts to block roads and prevent civilians from seeking aid in areas outside of the group’s control.

6 killed in Mogadishu car bomb near hotel

On March 13, a suicide car bomber struck Weheliye Hotel in Mogadishu, killing at least six persons.

Al Shabaab militant group, which has been fighting to topple the country’s government for over 10 years, claimed responsibility for the attack.

It was not clear who the target was, but militants often target civilian dense areas with indiscriminate violence.

In a separate attack on the same day, a suicide car bomber targeted a Somali army base south of Mogadishu. Col. Yusuf Burhan, Somali army official, said only the bomber died and two persons were injured.

AMISOM needs troop surge, says Head of AMISOM

Ambassador Francisco Madeira, Head of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), has told a high-level African Union meeting that AMISOM needs a troop surge.

The Head of AMISOM’s remarks came after it was assessed that Somali Nation Army (SNA) is incapable of taking control over vast areas from AMISOM troops, who are expected to begin withdrawing in 2019.

In a February 2017 report, the Brookings Institution described the Somali National Army as “predominantly clan-based”, underlining some of the challenges preventing the SNA from taking over more security responsibilities.

Somali pirates hijack and release vessel without ransom

A group of Somali pirates hijacked a Comoros-flagged vessel Iris 13 on March 14, as it traveled from Djibouti towards Mogadishu.

It was the first hijacking of a commercial vessel by Somali pirates since 2012.

The pirates docked the hijacked vessel at Alula, a coastal town in northern Somalia’s Puntland region.

Reuters initially reported that the pirates had demanded a ransom.

Two days later, Puntland security forces and the pirates engaged in a firefight, which later subsided. On the fourth day, the pirates released the vessel, without any ransom.

Source: Somali Review