Saturday, May 03, 2003

Thousands of Refugees Left Homeless By Floods - UN Agency
NEW YORK, 4 MAY 2003 (UN)--Thousands of Somali refugees in northeastern Kenya were left homeless after heavy rains destroyed hundreds of shelters, and there were fears today that food had been destroyed and that the collapse of latrines could spark water-borne diseases, the United Nations refugee agency reported.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said a majority of refugees' homes in two of the three camps in Dadaab - Ifo and Dagahaley which together house more than 60,000 refugees - collapsed or were washed away yesterday by torrential rains, which left roads both within the camps and linking Dadaab with the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, 400 kilometres to the south, impassable.

No deaths were reported but the UNHCR Representative in Kenya George Okoth-Obbo said there had been considerable damage especially with shelter. A transfer of refugees to drier parts of the camp was being considered, but movement of staff within Ifo and between Ifo and Dagahaley - some 10 kilometres - was seriously hampered by waterlogged roads.

UNHCR staff in Nairobi were urgently preparing to airlift fuel to Dadaab to run vehicles and generators in offices and the hospital and for water pumps.

The head of the UNHCR office in Dadaab, Daisy Buruku, expressed fears of an outbreak of water-borne diseases as large numbers of pit latrines had collapsed. The agency was also worried about the health of children seen playing in the stagnant water.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Warlords delay Somalia’s long search for peace
By Jonathan Clayton
Our correspondent says 12 years of anarchy may end, if the right deals can be struck
NAIROBI, 2 MAY 2003(Timesonline)--AS SOMALIA’S warlords go, Hassan Mohamed Nur is refreshingly honest. “Ambition is now the main problem. Everyone wants a position in government, everyone wants to be satisfied,” he said.
“Shatigudud”, or Red Shirt, as he is known to his supporters in the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA), is explaining why the Somali peace talks, which are about to enter a critical stage, will have to last a little longer. The talks, hosted by the Kenyan Government, have been going on for more than seven months.

“Everybody wants peace and stability, you see — we have killed enough people and destroyed enough, but every leader first wants his position to be satisfied,” he said.

The talks are already the longest in more than a dozen failed internationally sponsored attempts to broker peace in the country, which collapsed in anarchy over a decade ago and was carved up into fiefdoms by armed, clan-based groups, each with their own “warlord” or, in United Nations jargon, “faction leader”. The previous deals fell apart before the ink was dry. MORE
Annan Appoints Four Experts to Investigate Violations of Arms Ban
NEW YORK, 2 MAY 2003 (UN)--United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed a four-person expert panel to investigate violations of the arms embargo against Somalia.

The move was transmitted in a <"">letter to the President of the Security Council and comes after the 15-nation body adopted a resolution last month to re-establish the Panel of Experts and give it the mandate to look into breaches of the weapons ban covering access to Somalia by land, air and sea.

Appointed by Mr. Annan were Edward Howard Johns of the United States, Mohamed Abdoulaye M'Backe of Senegal, Johan Peleman of Belgium and Pavanjeet Singh Sandhu of India. Mr. Peleman was also designated the group's Chairman.

The decision to re-establish the team, to be based in Kenya, came after the Council considered the Panel's latest report, which stated that even after the signing of the Eldoret Declaration, most factions in Somalia have continued to import or receive weapons in breach of the arms embargo. Somali leaders who participated in last year's conference in Eldoret, Kenya, had rededicated themselves to the search for peace.

SOMALIA: Floods destroy property, land
NAIROBI, 1 MAY 2003 (IRIN) - Large areas of the Horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia, are likely to be affected by flooding due to recent heavy rains, a report has warned.

According to the Weather Advisory for the Greater Horn of Africa (WAGHA) - published by the US government's Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) and partners - the areas most likely to be affected in the next three days include the Juba and Shabelle river basins in southern Somalia, and the Nyando, Nzoia and Migori river basins in Western and Nyanza provinces of Kenya.

Abdi Egal, a Somali businessman in Kismayo, told IRIN on Thursday that the Juba valley had already been flooded, with thousands of hectares of farmland inundated. MORE

Hope in the Horn of Africa
Jean-Jacques Cornish
HARGEISA, 3 MAY 2003--The quiet American noticed the blue on his chinos and cursed: "Goddamn! These are my good pants." Then, as Somalilanders queued in the blazing sun outside to vote in their first presidential elections, he told the waiter: "You may prepare my lunch."

The man from the United States embassy in Nairobi was not one of the 35 international observers who came to witness Dahir Riyale Kahin squeak in as the first elected president of this enclave of relative stability on the troubled Horn of Africa.

With much bigger fish to fry across the Gulf of Aden, the US was not one of the 15 countries that sent observers to this country that has been shunned by the international community since breaking its union with Somalia 12 years ago.

Nevertheless the American tucked into his rock lobster taken only hours earlier off the coast at Berbera. That port still boasts the longest aircraft runway. It was built by the Russians and later extended by the Americans, testifying to the ebb and flow of the Cold War in this country that has pulled itself up by its bootstraps. MORE (MAIL & GUARDIAN-SA).

Thursday, May 01, 2003

ETHIOPIA: Election board chief arrested on corruption charges
ADDIS ABABA, 30 APRIL 2003 (IRIN) - The head of Ethiopia’s National Election Board has been arrested on charges of corruption and is expected to appear in court on Wednesday.

Assefa Birru was held on Monday at the central police department in Addis Ababa after being accused of abuse of power by the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

This is one of the most high profile arrests by the anti-corruption task force. Assefa is also the first person in the country to be charged with “obstructing” its work.

“Let this be a warning to other officials,” Abraham Gozguze from the commission told IRIN. “Unless we fight corruption we will not build this country.” MORE

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

SOMALIA: Premier denies reports of TNG split
NAIROBI, 29 APRIL 2003 (IRIN) - The prime minister of the Transitional National Government (TNG) of Somalia, Hasan Abshir Farah, has admitted there are "minor differences" between himself and the TNG president, but stressed this did not amount to a split within the interim administration.

The differences concerned "the prime minister's wish to dismiss certain ministers, which the president has refused to agree to", a TNG source told IRIN.

The ministers in question are reported to be Finance Minister Husayn Mahmud Shaykh Husayn, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdikarim Ahmad Ali and Education Minister Hasan Muhammad Jumbur. All three are seen as loyal supporters of President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan.

"These are differences of opinion on minor issues which we are now in the process of resolving," Abshir told IRIN on Tuesday. "This is not something that will lead to a split within the TNG at this stage. We are engaged in consultations and will resolve the matter soon." MORE
Somalia's 'soft targets' speak outMOGADISHU, 25 APRIL 2003 (SPA)--Gunmen in the Somali capital routinely rape and subject displaced women to other forms of abuse, those affected said Friday.

"The level of rape is very high and all age groups of poor women living in internally displaced people's camps are targeted," said Ahmed Yahya Mohamed, an elder in one of the camps told AFP.

"The latest rape took place last weekend and the victim was a nine-year-old girl with the attack rape occurring in the presence of victim's father," Mohamed said.

At another camp situated along Mogadishu's V. Lenin Road, Asha Ahmed said her sister has been raped twice this month.

"It appears we are a soft target because we are not armed," said Asha.

Somalia has been without a functioning government since the collapse of the regime of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.MORE

SOMALIA: UN concerned over plight of IDPs
NAIROBI, 29 APRIL 2003 (IRIN)--The United Nations has said it is concerned over the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) throughout Somalia.

In a open letter last week to Somali leaders attending the peace talks in Kenya, Maxwell Gaylard, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, expressed "increasing concern about the often appalling conditions in which internally displaced persons in Somalia live".

"Throughout Somalia, IDPs often do not have access to even the most basic of social services, and many suffer violations of their human rights, including denial of access to basic services, and sexual violence against women and girls," he said.

The UN estimates that there are 350,000 IDPs throughout Somalia, most of them women and children. Of this number, about 150,000 live in the capital, Mogadishu, with another 15,000 in the southern port city of Kismayo, while the rest are scattered around the country.MORE

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Somali Talks 'Will Succeed
NAIROBI, 28 APRIL 2003--Somalis from all walks of life are confident that the Somali National Reconciliation Conference currently going on in Mbagathi, Nairobi, will be successful.

Mr Farah Addow, a presidential candidate for the Transitional Federal Government said yesterday the Somali people and well-wishers from the region and the international community are looking forward to a successful culmination of the conference and the formation of an Interim Federal Government.

"The future Federal Government will be empowered by a charter to help the diverse institutions of the Government map out the projection of strategic policies and principles," said Addow.

This, he said, should cover security, stability, peace and solidarity; human rights, democracy and the rule of law; equiable sharing of resources and benefits; peaceful settlement of disputes with the neighbouring nations.

Others areas to be covered are utilisation of local, professional human resources; engagement of the private sector, the civil society and social organisations and involvement of the local and international NGOs.

Addow stressed the co-operation with regional and international public and private institutions, which the government will deal with and promoting meaningful inter-state diologue.