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That Freedom Shall not Perish

Somalia Firearms safety in Somaliland: from mine action to community safety

Report— Danish Refugee Council. 13 Aug 2012

Multiple border and civil wars have left Somaliland contaminated with explosive remnants of war and a surplus of small arms and light weapons. Today, unsecured firearms threaten daily life in rural villages, resulting in more deaths in Somaliland than from recent landmine incidents. Addressing the need for firearm security, the a Humanitarian Mine Action Unit in the Danish Refugee Council provides training and awareness through its Community Safety program.

Together with the rest of Somalia, the northwest region of Somaliland (previously British Somaliland) has a bloody past with years of civil war. Although it is not internationally recognized as a legitimate state, in 1991, it declared its independence from Somalia and became the Republic of Somaliland. Since then, the region has enjoyed relative peace and stability. With help from the Somali diaspora, Somaliland managed to establish a relatively well-functioning government with democratic elections and good (though mostly unofficial) diplomatic ties.

Mine Action and Community Safety

Following years of war, large areas of Somaliland became contaminated with landmines, explosive remnants of war and surplus small arms and light weapons.

Funded by the United Nations Development Programme and the Danish International Development Agency, the Humanitarian Mine Action Unit in the Danish Refugee Council (Danish Deming Group, DDG) began clearing minefields in Somaliland in 1999, alongside other agencies such as Rimfire, a British commercial mine-action agency. Shortly afterwards, The HALO Trust and Santa Barbara, a German nongovernmental organization, joined the effort.

By 2006, DDG had cleared more than 11,000 landmines and more than 124,000 ERW. With fewer contaminated areas and evidence of a greater rate of incidents caused by SA/LW than mines and ERW, DDG decided to shift its focus away from traditional mine action toward a broader approach addressing safety within local communities. In 2009, the Somaliland Mine Action Centre reported 19 incidents and 23 casualties from mines and ERW. DDG research from the same year estimated more than 7,500 firearm accidents and at least 11,000 incidents involving shootings or threats with firearms. Consequently, DDG started its Community Safety program in Somaliland in 2008 with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Netherlands.

Somalia A drought, four boys and a ball

Report— Save the Children. 10 Aug 2012

We arrive in Oodweyne, Somaliland at 10.30am. The environment seems lush, a deceptive picture of the real situation.

Our first stop is the community centre where I meet four young boys: Nur, Abdi, Fathi and Adnan aged 17, 14, 16 and 12.

They are here to attend a meeting to discuss a Save the Children project coming to an end. They are representing the children’s clubs started by Save the Children in different schools.

As well as providing the children with a safe environment, the clubs train them on their right to protection and good hygiene practices.

Nur invites us to his parent’s house. We are ushered into a one-room house and a papyrus mat is rolled out on the floor for us to sit on.

The children share their thoughts on the drought and how it is affecting them and their community.


“Children and teachers from outside villages have already moved.

“Many of our friends have moved away and we do not have enough teachers in our school. Some of the children are not able to come to school every day.”

They are disheartened. The drought is becoming worse. Water and food shortages are big challenges.

The much-awaited Gu rains were scanty at best. Farmers watched their plants dry out at a few inches high and their animals waste away.

Losing hope

Many families, having lost all hope of a harvest this year, have moved to other areas in search of better conditions.

The children aren’t shielded from the effects of the drought.

“We have to share the little we have among many of us. Before the crisis we ate three meals a day, now we are lucky if we eat two.”

Children from poor families are dropping out of school to be shoe shiners, barbers, water collectors, charcoal sellers and work in restaurants to supplement diminishing household incomes.

These boys are lucky to continue with their education

Growing up too quickly

“We play outside school using a ball we bought after contributing our morning tea money. It was the cheapest we could find at $1.50.

“The main thing for us is sports: football, volleyball and basketball!” Abdi says and the other boys nod in agreement.

The ability to learn and play allows them to be children in a world which is forcing them to grow up too quickly.

They struggle to stay positive in the shadow of insufficiency. In a world where one could find a million reasons to be unhappy; who knew a ball, four boys and happy smiles could paint such an inspiring picture on the grim canvas of a worsening drought?

Mo Farah's family cheers him on from Somaliland village

The Guardian (London) August 10, 2012
by David Smith

'When he won, I celebrated and gave people gifts of khat and meat,' says Mo's eldest brother Faisal

Mo Farah's eldest brother Faisal and his mother Amran will walk four miles to the nearest village with electricity to watch the final of 5,000m. Photograph: Ali Jama Mohamed

The tiny homestead lies deep in the savanna, far from any road; tyre marks in the dirt offer the only trail. Nearby, a cow and a donkey drag a wooden plough in uneasy tandem. Looking on is Faisal Farah, who has receding short hair, two prominent yellowing front teeth – and a blue jacket that says "Team GB".

On Saturday Faisal will walk four miles to Wajale, the nearest village with electricity, to watch his brother Mo race for a second Olympic gold.

Their mother, Amran, who has remained in rural Somaliland despite Mo's success abroad, will be with him in the crowd around the TV, just as she was for the 10,000m final last weekend.

"When he won, I exploded like a bomb!" says Faisal, a farmer who, at 37, is eight years Mo's senior. "I ran out in the streets shouting.

"There were a lot of people delighted and cheering. I celebrated and gave people gifts of khat [a bitter-tasting leaf] and meat."

Mo will run for Britain in the 5,000m, but Somalis will be watching just as closely, claiming him as their local hero. The runner was born in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, and his family lives in the semi-autonomous Somaliland region, where Mo returns around once a year to widespread adulation. Locals speak admiringly of him visiting orphanages and refugee camps and setting up a charity. Faisal says Mo has built two houses for the family.

Mo is the fourth of eight children, according to Faisal, who is the eldest. Faisal lives far off the beaten track, more than 40 miles from Hargeisa, close to the Ethiopian border and a world away from the lights and noise and logos of the Olympic stadium. Visitors are advised to travel with armed guards, following a road lined with abandoned petrol stations, trees customarily planted by newlyweds and a sign offering assurance that the area has been de-mined. The final part of the journey requires a Land Cruiser to bump and skid through bushy terrain and muddy quagmires.

In the surrounding farmland are camels, cattle, donkeys, goats and lambs, crops such as cereal and watermelon, and small homesteads with dome-shaped dwellings fashioned from tarpaulins tied with rope. In one, a sickly boy can be seen with flies crawling over his face.

Along the way, women in brightly coloured hijabs walk and wave, hoping for a lift.

Faisal, who must trek to Wajale every time he wants to charge his phone, leans against a tractor and reminisces about looking out for his younger brother when they were growing up. "Mo was always interested in sport: football and athletics," he says. "He always ran in the streets as a child. He was very smiley and happy all the time."

Despite Faisal's age advantage, Mo beat him at running. "We played together, we walked together. We played football and sometimes we raced but he was faster than me. He was a dynamo."

Watching Mo's Olympic glory in London, he feels no sibling rivalry, he insists. "It is as if I myself am running, so I cannot be jealous of him."

Their father was a businessman and the family lived comfortably in a substantial stone house. But Somalia was sliding towards two decades of civil war. "In Mogadishu, everyone was militia," Faisal recalls.

"People in our neighbourhood died or were injured because, like us, they originally came from Somaliland. I remember gunfire and explosions, often targeted at us. I don't like it when the memories come back. I try not to remember."

The family moved first to Somaliland, but conditions were harsh. "We were refugees. We left our business and money. We were poor, living in a very small tent in a refugee camp. The country was destroyed and there was every problem, like lack of food and power. Luckily Mo was a healthy boy."

They then sought relief in neighbouring Djibouti, while Mo's father returned to London, where he had been born and raised. Mo followed at the age of nine and joined his extended family in Hounslow, barely able to speak English. Faisal had no desire to follow.

"Mo went for better life, but I don't want to go there," he muses. "I like the benefits of this country. Of course I miss my brother but he communicates by phone day and night. He tells me, 'If you starting training, maybe you will reach the Olympics one day!' When he comes back each year, we share a lot of stories."

It is difficult for their parents to live continents apart, Faisal adds, "but my mother doesn't want to go there. She doesn't like the city."

Neither Faisal nor others here seem too troubled by Mo wearing adopted British colours. He continues: "He's a Somali, whichever flag he holds, and he's my brother. He can be a double citizen. If he ran with the Somaliland flag it would be great, but he has British nationality so he must run with the British flag this time. We hope he will run all the way and be a famous man."

Somaliland declared independence in 1991 but is still not internationally recognised as distinct from Somalia. Faisal says that, although he and Mo were born in Mogadishu, they still regard Somaliand as home. Mo has previously posed for photos with the tricolour of Somaliland, not Somalia's flag of a white star on pale blue.

Edna Adan Ismail, the former foreign minister of Somaliland, says: "Mo Farah may have been born in Mogadishu, as were many Somalilanders who happened to be working or living there during the time when Somaliland and Somalia were united, but he is not from Somalia. He is from Somaliland. He is from the Isaaq clan, and Jibril Abokor sub-clan, who are not natives of Somalia.

Ismail, widow of the former prime minister and founder of a university hospital, adds: "Somalilanders were elated and were greatly celebrating Mo's victory. Although he ran for Britain, he is one of ours and his achievements can only make us proud and can also be regarded as yet one more connection with the British empire."

But south of here, in Mogadishu, Mo has plenty of fans who care little for politics but a great deal about hope. Unhappy the land in need of heroes – the line is apt. Although a combination of insecurity, poverty, Ramadan and a two-hour time difference means there will be few public gatherings to watch Saturday's race, it seems almost anyone with satellite TV at home will be tuned in.

Among them is Amal Mohamed Bashir, 18, who watched the 10,000m with her mother and sisters and jumped to her feet when Farah clinched gold. "It was a very big night for me because he has a Somali name and Somali origins," she says, wearing a headscarf, Real Madrid shirt and red and black skirt. "Whichever country he runs for, he's still Somali."

Bashir, a sprinter who says she was denied a place in Somalia's two-person team in London because of a bureaucratic mix-up, adds: "I'm very proud of him; I'm one of his biggest fans. He has talent and capability and we are trying to follow in his footsteps. It gives us a power because he's Somali, he did it and won it. I can try to do it and win it. I hope to be like him."

Earlier this week Bashir could be seen with 20 other young hopefuls pounding the dust of Mogadishu's battered and bruised Konis stadium.

Goats clambered on the surrounding concrete terraces, makeshift tents for the displaced and destitute populated a nearby hill, and the smashed remains of a wall testified to two decades of anarchy.

But Mo's achievements chime with a growing sense of optimism and possibility among Somalis returning from the diaspora as the bloodshed slowly declines. Jabril Ibrahim Abdulle, director of the Centre for Research and Dialogue, says: "We Somalis are running short of heroes to be honest with you. At the end of the day, he's the first ethnic Somali to win an Olympic gold."

Asked whether Mo could inspire a new generation, Abdulle adds: "It's a question of how much it's publicised. I don't see Somali kids taking it right now in the middle of Mogadishu and saying, 'I want to imitate Mo Farah', because of other issues. But of course if he comes here and gets a hero's welcome, that could change things."

Mo's victory did create huge buzz among Somalis inside and outside the country using social media. There was no mistaking the symbolism.

"Tonight, the little giant rose to amazing heights," said one message that was rapidly circulated after the 10,000m. "Tomorrow, we as a nation can do the same. After all, Farah is our own."

The Impact of Climate Change on Pastoralism in Salahley and Bali-gubadle Districts, Somaliland[pdf]

March 20, 2012 - During the last decades it has been increasingly recognized that pastoralism is essential for the sustainable management and ecological health of dry lands, but also highly sensitive to increasing environmental degradation and global warming. It is threatened by several factors like the sedentarisation policies, intensive agriculture, ecological degradation and low social status accorded to pastoralists among many others.


NTERVIEW:Somaliland’s vice president on drought

August 7, 2012. IRIN HARGEISA, 7 August 2012 (IRIN) - Years of poor rains have ravaged parts of the self-declared republic of Somaliland. IRIN spoke to the territory’s vice president, Abdi-Rahman Abdillahi Saylici, about the effects of the drought, aspirations for international recognition and the Al-Shabab insurgency.

Q: What is the current drought situation in Somaliland?

A: Actually, the drought has been going on for the last three years particularly in areas along the coast; the situation there is really bad. Animals have died, including camels that are known for their resilience, and people are so malnourished that you cannot look at them. It seems that, God forbid, if the usual rains don’t come in the next three months, these people will get very weak and the remaining animals will die. So we are requesting urgent support from the international community.

Q: What are the main livelihoods of those affected by the drought?

A: The drought has affected all kinds of people. In all the areas we visited, there was no sign of cultivation, as is the case during this time of the year. You will find that the soil is dry. The livestock keepers are facing very difficult times too; they have not had rain for three years. Those suffering the most are the vulnerable ones like women, children and the elderly.

Q: How many regions have been affected?

A: Generally, areas along the coastal regions including Awdal, Sahil, Sanaag and Salel. The main problem is in the west, where several thousand families have been displaced from the rural areas to villages in search [of a] livelihood.

Q: Which are some of the areas the displaced have fled to?

A: We went to over 30 places where the affected people were, but the most populated were Gargaara Bari, Ali-Haydh, Garba-Dadar and El-Helay.

Q: How many people have been affected by the drought?

A: They are around 20,000 families.

Q: What interventions have been put in place since the drought started?

A: First of all, the government of Somaliland is responsible to the people as a whole, and it is our duty to be the first to respond. [But] as you know, Somaliland is not internationally recognized, and we do not have enough funds for such a disaster. So we have tried to seek outside help; some of our partners have responded, like Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Gelle. We are very grateful to him. We recently provided foodstuffs to almost 1,000 families.

Q: What future plans do you have to deal with these recurrent droughts?

A: We would like to work hard to build water reserves since the ground water level has halved due to the limited rains. For example, if people used to pump water from a depth of 10 metres, now they need to dig 10 metres deeper. The government of [the self-declared republic of Somaliland] is now planning to establish dams in the valleys to catch rain water, so come next year we would like to embark on water reserve projects with the help of the African Development Bank, the government and its people including the Somaliland diaspora.

Q: How many people would you say have been displaced by the drought in the last two years?

A: As I said earlier, generally we have around 20,000 families affected, and almost a half of them displaced.

Q: What kind of challenges are these people bringing to the areas they have fled to?

A: They [have] brought a lot of changes to the environment and resources in the areas they have gone to. Resources like water, health and schools are overstretched. We request humanitarian aid agencies to double their services, including health, water and schools.

Q: Your government made basic primary education free, and this led to a significant increase in enrolment. What are you doing to adjust to these changes?

A: Yes, there has been a significant increase in enrolment, and we are working on a strategic plan to cope with these changes in terms of more classrooms, teachers and other learning facilities.

Related Video : Somaliland emergency drought appeal in London ( editor- Mohammed Ahmed Ali - , Somaliland ambassador to the UK and other Somaliland nationals have organised the appeal event )

Recognition and threats

Q: The people of Somaliland are highly anticipating the self-declared country’s recognition. What are you doing to achieve that?

A: We will never stop seeking for the independence of Somaliland, and we are working hard to get international recognition. That is why we are participating in the international conferences held for the Somali people to please our brothers in Somalia so that we can become two peaceful neighbouring states in the future, as we were before the union… and we are on our way to gaining the recognition.

Q: Is the Al-Shabab insurgent group a threat to Somaliland?

A: They are being pushed out of southern Somalia and as always we expect [to be affected] so we are highly prepared to prevent any infiltration. Our people are working with the government agencies, the police and the intelligence to protect the country with the help of countries like the UK and the USA.

Q: Tell us about the issue of the eastern breakaway group.

A: We are very careful [not] to be violent with them, and we always try to settle our disputes on the table. As part of our efforts to solve the issue, the President [of the self-declared republic of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud (Silanyo) ] met with their [Cayn, Sool and Sanag (SSC) ] leader in Dubai during his visit [in July]. Negotiations are getting better, and it will be fine soon, God willing.

Somalia: Somaliland Police Beat TV Reporter With Rubber Pipe

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Press Release. August 06, 2012

A journalist in the northern breakaway republic of Somaliland was attacked by police while covering a child custody dispute in a local court on Saturday, according to local journalists and news reports.

Police beat Hodan Abokor, a reporter for the state broadcaster Somaliland TV, during a fight among members of the public who were present in the court in the northern town of Borama, according to news reports and local journalists. Hodan was slapped and beaten with a rubber pipe, local journalists said. She received treatment at a local hospital and returned home a few days later, news reports said.

Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf Duale told CPJ that he had held a meeting with the Somaliland Police Commissioner to discuss the attack on Hodan. He also said that the officer who beat the journalist was in custody and that a police report would be filed the next day.

Police in Somaliland have targeted journalists in the past. In the first six months of 2012, authorities arrested and temporarily detained nearly 60 journalists, all without charge, according to CPJ research.

Somaliland express concern over new Constitution's territorial claim

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 02 Aug 2012. Jowhar website, Mogadishu, in Somali 0000 02 Aug 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Somaliland Administration has welcomed the new Somali constitution which was yesterday endorsed by delegates from parts of Somalia and is to be used temporarily until it can be subjected to a referendum.

Somaliland Minister for Foreign Affairs, Muhammad Abdullahi Umar said they are pleased with the move which could see an end to the conflict in the country, but cautioned against what he said were Somali government's interference with Somaliland.

"There are some issues that we deem to be interference. There are delegates claiming to represent Somaliland in the conference and that is a violation. Borders and regions claimed by the new constitution are also a direct interference to us and we are urging that these claims cease as it has the potential for renewed conflict and instability," said the Somaliland minister for foreign affairs.

Muhammad Abdullahi Umar said Somaliland is an independent nation with its own laws and governing institutions which the international community is very well aware of, although, he said, the international community is yet to recognise it. He said Somaliland was not part of the peace process in Somalia having made its stance clear.

Somaliland foreign affairs minister also said talks between Somaliland administration and Federal Government would restart once the new government is formed Somalia.

"Talks between the two sides will restart once the new government is formed and will be brokered by the international community. What we are discussing is not unity with Somalia but rather respect for Somaliland decisions to secede," said Muhammad Abdullahi Umar who added that any discussions on issues outside the ones outlined above could result in conflict.

The statement by the Somaliland minister for foreign affairs comes at a time when some 621 delegates yesterday endorsed the new Somali constitution.

Somaliland administration closes independent down newspaper

BBC Monitoring Newsfile [London] 30 July 2012. Haatuf, Hargeysa, in Somali 30 Jul 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The Somaliand administration has decided to close down the independent Hubaal newspaper which is published in Hargeysa. The Ministry of Information said the newspaper was not among those that are registered.

However, the newspaper has displayed its registration documents, tax documents and licence issued by the ministry.[Passage omitted].

Somaliland journalists body condemns government's attempts to suppress media

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 27 July 2012.The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 21 Jul 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

SSJW, a Somaliland Journalists organization condemns on-going attempts by Somaliland government and the University of Hargeysa to change Somaliland Press Law No 27/2004. This law was passed by Somaliland's legislature and was signed by Somaliland President Dahir Riyaale Kahin.

We also oppose plans by the minister of information and the University of Hargeysa in which they want to impose a criminal law for the suppression of the media. Those plans were the subject of a meeting in Hargeysa's Imperial Hotel on July 17.

We reject any laws that punish and suppress the media, and we call for the implementation of the law that was passed by the parliament and signed by the former president.

SSJW Spokesman,Muhammad Ibrahim Sagah

Berbera port and pastoralism prove livestock's worth in Somaliland

* Port needs investment to support the thriving livestock industry in Somaliland, where there are more animals than people
* Somaliland's thriving livestock business – in pictures

By Mark Tran in Berbera (Somaliland) July 27, 2012

- With its stretches of wasteland covered with rubbish and dotted with rubble and ruined buildings, its scruffy vendors’ shacks and broiling heat, the coastal town of Berbera is no beauty spot.

A former British protectorate, Somaliland was created in the 1880s to ensure supplies of meat for troops in the British Indian outpost in Aden, hence its nickname, “Aden’s butcher’s shop”. These days, millions of animals are shipped every year from Berbera’s port, built by the Soviet Union during the cold war, and it provides an economic lifeline for Somaliland. In 2010, 2.5 million cattle were exported through the port, with about 78% going to Saudi Arabia, 20% to Yemen and the rest to Egypt and Oman. Livestock and remittances are the mainstays of the economy, with livestock production contributing 60-65% of gross domestic product and most hard currency generated through the export of livestock. Given Berbera’s importance to Somaliland’s economy, huge responsibility rests on Ali Omar Mohamed, 50, who has been general manager of the port on and off since 1994. On the first day of Ramadan, on 20 July, he took a couple of visitors on a tour of the port on a blisteringly hot day.

An impish bundle of energy, he began with a joke. Pointing to a dozen grey speckled birds on the ground that are supposed to bring good fortune to travellers, he said, mischievously: “They bring good luck to those who are about to travel; perhaps you will go home and marry a new young wife.”

First stop was a five sq km (1.9 sq miles) enclosed area of dusty ground with little shade – capable of holding 100,000 animals – where they undergo blood tests to check for disease before shipment. The area was mostly deserted as the animals had been shipped off during the cool of the night. Most sheep and goats are exported in dhows and small ships that carry 3,000-6,000 animals.

But not all had gone. In an enclosure of thorny branches, dozens of camels awaited their turn. At another spot, oxen were being watered by young herders. Two of them were butting heads. “They have to be kept apart from other animals,” said Mohamed. “They are vicious and will kill them.”

Berbera is busy now but it was badly hit when Saudi Arabia imposed a ban on the import of livestock from Somalia in 2000 to prevent the spread of disease. The ban was lifted in 2009.

Now that Berbera is flourishing, Mohamed says the port is looking for an investor to make it twice as big and deeper.

Berbera has a 650-metre berth and a depth of 11.5-12 metres. Mohamed wants the port to be 20 metres deep so it can accommodate the world’s largest container ship, weighing 300,000 tons. That is a tall order as the biggest ship the port can currently take is 35,000 tons, and Mohamed says it would cost $65m to make the changes. To date, the biggest private investment in Somaliland is Coca-Cola’s $17m bottling plant outside the capital, Hargeisa, 88km (54 miles) from Berbera.

Three years ago, Bolloré Africa Logistics, part of the French Bolloré group, expressed interest in upgrading the portbut pulled out, and Berbera still awaits an investor with deep pockets to modernise the port and exploit Somaliland’s offer of a free trade zone around it.

At the same time, Somaliland is also looking for ways to support its pastoralists, who lead a nomadic lifestyle, tending to ignore national borders. Pastoralists provide the backbone of the livestock industry in the Horn of Africa.

About 60% of the country’s population depends on livestock and livestock products. Out of these, according to USAid, the US development agency, 55% lead a nomadic lifestyle with the remaining 45% living in urban and rural settlements(pdf). The pastoralists keep a combination of camels, goats, sheep and cattle, and they are a common sight on the road between Hargeisa and Berbera.

Animals vastly outnumber people in Somaliland. Compared with a population of 3.8 million people, there are an estimated 8.4 million goats, 8.7 million sheep, 1.6 million camels and 400,000 cattle. In Hargeisa, groups of sheep and goats wander along the main roads munching through rubbish, or bringing traffic to a halt as they cross the street.

Life for pastoralists is precarious. Conflict, climate change – with increasingly frequent dry periods and drought – make life exceedingly difficult. Last year, the UN declared a famine in Somalia, in which tens of thousands of people died. Despite the many challenges, experts say mobile pastoralism will continue throughout the Horn of Africafor the simple reason that a more viable, alternative land-use system for these areas has not been found.

Those who survive will prosper by owning bigger herds. The challenge is how those who drop out of pastoralism make a living. In an optimistic scenario, Peter Little, professor of anthropology at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, sees former pastoralists investing in local fodder farms, urban-based markets and services that serve the livestock sector, educating their children and engaging in small-scale trading and other enterprises.

Development organisations have realised the importance of supporting livestock and its ancillary activities. In February, Britain launched a £13m aid package with partners who included the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation, the International Labour Organisation, the World Bank and Save the Children. Andrew Mitchell, UK international development secretary, who visited Hargeisa in February, said the project will create 20,000 jobs in agriculture and livestock in the region.

One early outcome has been improvements at the Hargeisa livestock market. A wall enclosing a 70 sq m (750 sq ft) plot has been built not only to keep animals from straying but to stop encroachment from private developers. A new water tank has also been built and shelters now provide protection from the rain and sun.

“It is 100% better. The worst was the sun before, but now we have shelter and the fence protects our space and our animals, and I can stay here longer,” says Marwo Harun, a woman selling the distinctive black-headed sheep particularly prized by Saudis.

Young women are being trained to make jewellery and ornaments from bones, and soap from animal fats and bone marrow. In the city of Borama, the meat market has been refurbished with the construction of display tables and the installation of a waste management system. The market now supports 216 meat retailers, up from the previous 65.

Given the improvements at the Hargeisa livestock market and the dynamism of Berbera’s port manager, Little’s optimistic scenario for livestock and pastoralists does not seem far-fetched. In the new book, Pastoralism and Development in Africa, he writes: “In this scenario, the normal occurrence of drought would no longer result in widespread food shortages and hunger as markets would function effectively and local incomes would be sufficient to purchase needed foods.”

Somali Premier lauds Somalia, Somaliland talks, campaigns for presidency

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 24 July 2012.Credit: website in Somali 24 Jul 12 Text of unattributed report titled 'Somali Premier, Gaas: "Talks between Somalia and Somaliland beginning of Somalia unification" 'by Somali website on 24 July

Dr. Abdiwali Muhammad Ali Gaas who spoke about the London conference, Somalia and Somaliland said that this is the beginning of the revival of Somali unity.

"During my tenure, talks involving Somalia and Somaliland administration is the greatest achievement, clearly we will eventually complete unification which is vital for all Somalis. We are currently employing all efforts to ensure that our Somaliland brothers will unite with the rest of their brethren and safeguard our precious unification" said the premier.

Gaas [Somali premier] said he is enriched through his service to the Somali people, similarly stated that many people have asked him to vie for the upcoming Somali presidential elections although he has not openly declared his interest in the position.

Premier Abdiwali also spoke about his achievements during his tenure in the past year. His administration has participated in reconciliation talks involving Somali communities, achieved gains in security related issues, including strategies adopted by the administration to oust Al-Shabab from the capital, towns in southern Somalia.

Abdiwali promised to expel Al-Shabab from all of Somalia if he is voted in as Somali president.

Somalia: Hackers Target Somali Giant Dahabshiil

22 JULY 2012. Garowe Online (Garowe)

Mogadishu, Somalia — A group claiming to be the cyber hacker or hacktivist group Anonymous has threatened Dahabshiil an international funds transfer company and the leading bank in Somalia, Garowe Online reports.

The group alleged it was the hacktivist group Anonymous, and threatened to destroy Dahabshiil within two months if the company did not stop what the group alleged as supporting terrorist organizations and terrorists in Somalia and across the world.

The group, who printed out thousands of account details, alleges that Dahabshiil supports terrorism through dealing directly and indirectly with terrorists.

In the statement the Anonymous group released, the group alleged that it was investigating the bank's accounts for months after easily bypassing firewalls.

"After months and months of fun against these guys who support Terror on earth, we just decided that it was time to destroy them," read the statement.

The group said it had planted "cyber bombs" and warned Dahabshiil if they consulted IT experts that the group would detonate those bombs destroying the company.

Dahabshiil while speaking to downplayed the cyber attack of its stations and said that the threat was "exaggerated".

Although the bank did not verify the individuals it promised that despite the threats it would protect their customers.

"Safeguarding our customers is of paramount importance to Dahabshiil and we will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities to ensure that we identify those responsible," read the Dahabshiil statement to

The bank also denied ever working with terrorists or funding terrorists.

"We have never been the subject of any investigation in relation to alleged terrorist funding and we have no involvement whatsoever with money laundering or the funding of terrorist organizations."

If in fact the hacktivist group Anonymous did threaten Dahabshiil this will be a new frontier for the group who have targeted websites of the US Department of Justice the FBI and the websites of governments like the United Kingdom, Egypt, Algeria and Libya.

The group which does not have a leader or head or a member list and virtually anybody can join, has not been known to go after terrorists or alleged terrorist supporters, but in the alleged statement by the group, it did announce officially its "War on Terror".

Dahabshiil denies Anonymous behind cyber-attack

by: By Claire Connelly, Technology Reporter From: July 22, 2012.

A group claiming to be Anonymous accused Dahabshiil of aiding terrorists.

UPDATE: DAHABSHIIL, the international funds transfer company based in the Middle East, says Anonymous was not responsible for the attack on its banking systems.

A group claiming to be Anonymous published thousands of account numbers, names and details online and threatened it would commit "global internet destruction" if Dahabshiil did not publicly confess to aiding terrorism.

The hackers claimed it had installed "cyber bombs" within financial institutions around the world and threatened to trigger them if the Dahabshiil did not confess within two months.

However, Dahabshiil told "Following our initial investigation into the cyber-attack, we now believe that earlier reports attributing the action to a particular protest group were inaccurate and exaggerated."

It said it was not in a position yet to verify the identity of the individuals behind the hack.

"Naturally we will keep all customers fully updated."

"Safeguarding our customers is of paramount importance to Dahabshiil and we will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities to ensure that we identify those responsible.

Dahabshiil said that it "places the highest importance on its compliance procedures and has policies in place which are approved by the relevant authorities, including the FSA in the UK".

The hackers claiming responsibility for the attack posted documents on Google Plus highlighting associations with other banking networks including Barclay's in the UK and Ernst & Young in the US.

Passport pictures, banking transactions and other documents were also posted online.

The hackers posted a statement on tech blog, Slashdot, in which it declared an "official war on terror".

The group said the bank had two months to come forward or expect a "global internet destruction".

"if you want us to immediately stop this cyber-sabotage, it's quite easy," they wrote.

"We just ask you to stop lying, to recognise your help with Somaliaterror, and to officially change your behavior.

"We need a public message from you, as a proof.

"This is a call for actions of monitoring and/or destruction of companies and institutions that do work with terrorists, rogue countries, etc."

The attackers said that WikiLeaks documents had revealed the Dahabshiil bank had provided direct financial support to al-Qaeda, Al Wafa and other terrorist organisations. It posted documents on Google plus that highlighted associations with other banking networks including Barclay's in the UK and Ernst & Young in theUS.

They claimed to have stolen documents from and destroyed "work stations" in Australia, Kenya, USA, UK,Sweden, Somalia and Dubai. It also said it had hidden "cyber-bombs" in banking networks around the world and that it has attacked routers, firewalls and satellites that would protect banking systems from protecting financial networks.

The hackers signed off the statement with their slogan "we are Anonymous, we are legion".

Dahabshiil initially condemned Anonymous for claiming to breach "the privacy of hardworking, responsible individuals", and wholeheartedly denied the allegations.

"The claims from Anonymous that connections exist between our business and known terrorist organisations are quite simply wrong," a spokesperson told

"We have never been the subject of any investigation in relation to alleged terrorist funding and we have no involvement whatsoever with money laundering or the funding of terrorist organisations.

"Consequently, we call on Anonymous to withdraw its untrue allegations immediately.

"Dahabshiil places the highest importance on its compliance procedures and has extensive anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing policies in place which are approved by the relevant regulators, including the FSA in the UK.

"All staff receive extensive and continuous training in this regard.

"We have started a thorough investigation of Anonymous’ attack and will keep all customers fully updated.

"Safeguarding our customers’ funds is of paramount importance to Dahabshiil. We will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities as we proceed."

Somaliland: Mary Harper sees a country in microcosm at the Hargeisa International Book Fair

July 20, 2012

Performers make a human pyramid at the Hargeisa International Book Fair 2012.

Shortly after I posted a blog about a book fair in Somaliland, I received a comment from a contributor to a highly respected international magazine. He asked whether it was a joke. As if I was making the whole thing up.

The Hargeisa International Book Fair is most certainly not a joke. It is now in its fifth year running and, as its name suggests, is truly international.

It is international in the sense that Somali authors, poets, artists, musicians and intellectuals from all over the world were invited to the event, reflecting the truly globalised nature of the Somali people. They have always been outward looking due to their geographical location and long seaboard, but the past two-and-a-half decades of conflict have forcibly displaced about a third of the Somali population, scattering them far and wide across the globe.

The international Somalis invited to the book fair included the young British-Somali author of the prize-winning novel, Black Mamba Boy, Nadifa Mohamed, the US-based Somali poet, Said Salah, and the respected Somali journalist and thinker, Mahamoud Sheikh Dalmar, who returned to Somaliland from Britain for the first time in thirty-six years.

The book fair was also international in the sense that a truly global mix of non-Somalis was invited to take part. The Brazilian-Korean film-maker, Iara Lee, screened her film Cultures of Resistance, complete with Somali subtitles. The New Orleans jazz clarinettist Evan Christopher made his first trip to Africa to work musical magic with the King of the Somali lute, Hudaydi, who flew in from London.

The Russian academic, George Kapchits, who speaks fluent Somali, launched his new book ‘Somalis do not Lie in Proverbs’. A representative from Penguin Books, Helen Conford, came to sub-Saharan Africa for the first time to talk about international publishing. And I was invited to do the first launch on Somali soil of my book Getting Somalia Wrong? The book has been translated into Somali and is being checked by Somali intellectuals before being released.

There was an unexpected international visit on the sixth and final day of the fair. A heavyweight foreign delegation, headed by the British ambassador to Somalia, Matt Baugh, popped in to look at the books, art and other items on display, and listen to presentations by young representatives from regional Readers’ Clubs. They arrived in a quiet, relaxed way, without obvious security.

The organisers of the book fair told Mr Baugh in no uncertain terms that they considered him the ambassador to Somalia and Somaliland, and presented him with a Somali pot, some books and a shiny new red, white and green Somaliland flag. He told the audience that the book fair was ‘magnificent’ and announced that a British office would soon be opening in Somaliland, which would in time offer consular services.

The Hargeisa International Book Fair was far more than a book fair. It went on for six days, and every day seemed better than the one before. It was a feast of books, poems, songs, games, music, plays, art and film. On the last day there was a circus complete with human pyramids, tumbling and juggling with fire.

Books on sale at the fair included Somali translations of George Orwell’s Animal Farm and, new this year, a collection of short stories by Chekhov. There were Somali children’s books and a Somali-English-Arabic Physics book. There was also a mini-library where people could borrow books and read them in a specially designated quiet area.

The fair was packed-out every day. There wasn’t enough room to accommodate everyone in the large hall of the Working Mens’ Club in central Hargeisa, so a big screen was set up outside for the overspill to watch and listen to what was going on inside. A few soldiers strolled around, chatting to people or eating mangoes under the shade of trees. They helped check people’s bags as they entered the hall, or politely turned people away when the place was full. One word kept springing to mind when I thought about the book fair, ‘gentle’ – a term not usually associated with Somalis.

One reason why the book fair was so packed is that there is not much for young people to do in Hargeisa. As the book fair’s organiser, Jama Musse Jama, says, there is no theatre or cinema in the city. He is keen for the young to engage in cultural activities, partly because it keeps them out of trouble. And there is a lot of trouble around in the region, not least piracy, other forms of crime and the violent Islamist militia Al Shabaab, which is merged with Al Qaeda.

I have over the past few years been visiting Hargeisa every six months or so. It changes every time I return. This time I noticed new yellow cab services in the city, with shiny gold signs and smart sunflower yellow taxis with black lettering. Hargeisa is packed at this time of year as many diaspora Somalis spend their summer holidays here. There are long traffic jams and it is often difficult to get a table in the many hotels and restaurants opening in the city. There is a real holiday atmosphere in town. One evening, I even saw a stretch limo decorated with green, red and white lights. The driver told me it is mainly used for weddings. I was told the Hummer I saw belonged to a wealthy businessman.

The Somali intellectual, Mahamoud Sheikh Dalmar, who has returned after decades away, told me one of the main changes he has noticed is the way people walk and talk. He says they move and speak freely, whereas during the dictatorship of former president Siad Barre, they kept their heads down and voices low. He also noticed all the different languages being spoken. “Everybody spoke Somali before,” he said. “Now I hear Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Arabic, American English, Canadian English, London English, Cardiff English….”

The book fair is itself a sign of freedom. The dominant voices in the Somali media are usually those of the politicians and religious leaders. The organisers of the book fair have given a voice to everybody but them. The young, women, poets, writers, artists, environmentalists, scientists, historians, linguists and members of the business community all gave presentations.

During the short time I was in Hargeisa, a number of Somali stories hit the international headlines. China helped rescue a ship taken by Somali pirates, the UN declared the number of Somali refugees in neighbouring countries had reached the one million mark, Oxfam warned of a pending food crisis in Somalia and Somaliland, a UN report described massive corruption at the heart of the transitional government of Somalia, and a former minister was blown up in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Such stories show how troubled things are in the Somali territories, but they do not tell the whole picture of what is happening in the region.

The organisers of the Hargeisa International Book Fair, Jama Musse Jama and Ayan Mahamoud, are a bit like Somaliland itself. They are plucky, creative, entrepreneurial and independent-minded. The do not take no for an answer and are very good at doing things for themselves.

Mary Harper is Africa Editor at BBC World Service News and the author of Getting Somalia Wrong? Faith, War and Hope in a Shattered State, Zed Books, 2012.

Somaliland bottles its hopes in Coca-Cola plant

Moustapha Osman Guelleh holds strawberry drinks at the Coca-Cola bottling plant north of the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa.

Mark Tran. The Guardian. July 20, 2012

A $17m bottling plant in Somaliland is the biggest private investment in a country that desperately needs foreign funds.

It is Africa's, if not the world's, most isolated Coca-Cola bottling plant, a large shiny white-and-red hangar-like building in the middle of nowhere, with camels and black-headed sheep as neighbours.

Inaugurated in May by Somaliland's president, Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo, the plant has been described as a diamond in the desert. It lies an hour's drive from the capital, Hargeisa, travelling along the two-lane road to Berbera – much in need of repair – then along a bumpy track that runs past spiky acacia trees, swaths of aloe vera plants and the occasional darting dik-dik, a tiny antelope.

Just before the plant, there is a military cadet training site, with a blindingly white three-story building refurbished with UK aid. The place used to house Russian tanks during the cold war. Thick brown stone walls with rusty iron beams poking out are all that is left of the Russian presence; anything that could be removed has gone.

The bottling plant with the bright red logo SBI – Somaliland Beverage Industries – is just beyond the Russian ruins. Three thick breeze blocks lie outside the entrance, which is protected by armed guards. Inside the gate, the 6,000 square metre bottling plant/warehouse, complete with a set of solar panels, dominates the compound. But just as striking are the manicured green lawns watered by sprinklers outside a row of white flats that house 60 of the 100 staff. The lawns on the 150 hectare (370 acre) site – some of which will be used for a game park – provide a surreal contrast to the dun-desert landscape outside.

The $17m plant is Somaliland's biggest private investment since it broke away from Somalia in 1991 to declare itself a republic. It is investment desperately needed in this country where much of the population of 3 million rely on exports of camels and other livestock to the Middle East, and on remittances. An estimated $1.6bn-2bn is remitted to Somali territories by the diaspora every year.

The plant – with its spotless testing labs and steel containers – produces 11,000 bottles an hour, or 18,000 cases a day, running at only half capacity. On a recent visit, the production line – manned by Somalilanders who had been trained by workers from Kenya, South Africa and elsewhere – was turning out bottles of the plant's most popular drink, strawberry Fanta. It is a cloyingly sweet red drink especially favoured by Somaliland women. The plant also produces orange Fanta, Sprite and, of course, Coca-Cola.

The investment was put up entirely by SBI, part of the OGF group, a conglomerate with interests in shipping, construction and property founded in 1949 by Osman Guelle Farah in Djibouti, where he used traditional routes to ferry goods between Djibouti and the Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa. SBI's day-to-day operations are run by Moustapha Osman Guelleh, one of six brothers who are continuing their father's work after he died last year.

It has been a steep learning curve for Guelleh, who first had to fend off efforts by rival bottlers in the Arab world to drive SBI out of business by dumping products past their sell-by date. SBI had to cut its prices by 30% to compete. Guelleh, 41, who has a degree in politics from the UK's Oxford Brooks University, said building the plant was a logistical nightmare. "It's not easy to build a state-of-the-art bottling plant at the best of times, but to do so in Somaliland with poor infrastructure and hardly any banking infrastructure was a huge struggle," said Guelleh.

He had to bring large trailers in from Djibouti to transport the delicate machinery from the port of Berbera, two hours away. Few international shipping lines call at Berbera, so it took months for factory parts to arrive. This remains a problem, so the plant has to stock more supplies than other plants – from refined Egyptian sugar to chemicals such as hydrex 4102 to clean the tanks and pipes before switching from one drink to another.

The reason for the plant's isolated location lies beneath the ground. There was not enough water in Hargeisa, and SBI, using Chinese hydrological surveys done in the late 1970s and the advice of village elders, dug boreholes over replenishable aquifers – underground rivers that refill with rain. "That's why we located here – it's the most isolated Coke bottler in the world," said Guelleh.

Guelleh said Coca-Cola's decision to award a franchise to SBI amounts to a vote of confidence in Somaliland, a land in relative peace compared with Somalia, which has been a broken state for the past 20 years. But although it may have peace, Somaliland lacks international recognition, which keeps international investors away – insurers will not cover companies investing in a place that has no legal identity.

"An oil company such as Shell will operate in Nigeria where workers get kidnapped but it won't invest in Somaliland even though it is much more stable," said Guelleh ruefully, but he does not blame foreign investors for staying away. "If I was a foreign company investing $17m here, I'd be crazy," he said.

Guelleh, who believes SBI will make its money back in five years, said international isolation has forced Somalilanders to rely on their own resources, and he sees the bottling plant as a huge opportunity for the company despite all the obstacles.

Now that production is up and running, he is counting on Coca-Cola's marketing clout to push sales in Somaliland and Puntland, an autonomous region of Somalia, and the Galmudug region of Somalia. In September, there are plans for Coca-Cola to supply coolers and fridges powered by solar panels to selected mini-markets and shops. Guelleh foresees 2,000 to 5,000 entrepreneurs starting up in Somaliland to sell drinks produced by the plant.

"I want ice-cold Coke to be at an arm's reach," said Guelleh, who hopes to eventually have a second production line. Asked about whether he would not rather produce healthy products such as fruit juices or water, he replied: "It's like any product, if you consume it in excess it can be harmful. We don't market to children, but to young people. Eventually we want to produce Minute Maid [fruit juices] and mineral water."

Somaliland's Hargeisa book festival celebrates fifth year

Horn of Africa's answer to Hay-on-Wye fills cultural void for young in country where 70% of population are under 30 Mark Tran in Hargeisa., 16 July 2012.

Refugees in Hargeisa in 2009. Jama Musse Jama hopes the book festival will inspire local young people to get involved in cultural activities. Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Guardian

It is an unlikely spot for a literary festival, a town of half a million people with no theatre and no cinema. But Hargeisa is carving out a reputation as the Horn of Africa's answer to Hay-on-Wye by attracting readers and writers from around the world to its book fair.

Ensuring that Somaliland's oral tradition endures is one of the motivating factors behind the Hargeisa book fair, the brainchild of Jama Musse Jama, a senior analyst with a computer science company who lives in Pisa, Italy.

The event – now in its fifth year – celebrates not just literature but theatre, film and music, as well as showing off Somaliland's local products from fruit to its version of Coca-Cola.

Held in the working men's club in central Hargeisa, the presentations are given in a packed hall, with red, green and white streamers – the colours of the national flag – on the ceiling where the white paint is visibly peeling.

A makeshift tent outside houses volunteers, including young women wearing hijabs and backwards baseball caps, selling old paperbacks and newer ones published by the organisers.

At nearby stalls in the dusty yard, women sell large watermelons, lemons and soft drinks under bright red parasols to ward off the sun. Unlike Hay-on-Wye, armed soldiers in fatigues are in evidence. Although this is one of the safest cities in the Horn of Africa – metaphorically, it's a million miles from Mogadishu – the authorities are taking no risks.

Jama left Somaliland in 1986 for Mogadishu, the Somali capital, and did not return until 1991, when Somaliland declared itself an independent republic. During its breakaway Hargeisa was so heavily bombed that it became known as the Dresden of Africa. Since then – in stark contrast to Somalia – Somaliland has been a haven of relative calm and stability, aided by millions of dollars in remittances from the Somali diaspora, many living in the US and the UK. It is now courting foreign investors, although the lack of international recognition can be a hurdle.

Jama started the book fair not only to ensure the survival of Somaliland's rich oral tradition, but to fill what he saw as a cultural void. "It is unacceptable that in this city there is no national theatre and no cinema. There is nothing for young people to do," he said.

Somaliland has about 3 million inhabitants with up to 70% aged under 30. Jama wants the arts to provide a healthy alternative for the young to chewing khat – the ubiquitous drug in the region – or worse, following the siren call of al-Shabaab, the Islamist militants in Somalia.

Ayan Mahamoud, who co-manages the book fair and organises its sister festival in London every October, also trumpets the importance of the arts and culture in building national identity.

"You can't become a nation by just building an army and a police, you need the arts … through books you change people's minds," she said. "You need a culture of peace and tolerance. The book fair provides a space for our youth to engage and discuss with each other."

Among those at this year's event is Georgi Kapchits, a Russian who during the cold war worked for Moscow Radio, the Soviet Union's version of the BBC World Service. Having graduated in African studies at Moscow University, he found himself broadcasting to Somalis on Somali folklore. Decades later, Kapchits, 72, is promoting his new book, Somalis Do Not Lie in Proverbs. Many of the proverbs featured were sent in by his listeners over the years.

"I wanted to collect these proverbs to make sure the oral tradition does not die out," he said, as he walked along Hargeisa's unpaved roads, strewn with discarded plastic bags used for khat.

The fair's organisers also want it to be a showcase for Somali literature, to bring it to the wider world and to bring international literature through translations to Somalis. Recently Jama's publishing house has published translations of works by George Orwell and Anton Chekhov, and provided an English translation of essays by Muuse Ismaaciil Galaal, a leading Somali literary figure.

Beyond the fair, its organisers have been promoting readers' clubs in Somaliland's six regions as a way of pressurising regional leaders to build libraries. "We've had pledges of land and now two regions have pledged buildings for libraries," said Mahamoud.

Rahma Hassan Tubez, 20, a medical student and readers' club member, is at the fair to see Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame "Hadraawi", considered Somalia's greatest living poet. Tubez said Hadraawi had complimented her on her Arab poetry and had urged her to write in Somali.

"When I was young my dream was to become a doctor, now whenever I have free time I write poetry," said Tubez, who cites Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People as her favourite book. "This year I started writing Somali poetry because Hadraawi had encouraged me."

Somali proverbs

To know something for sure, one would even part with a she-camel

You will be drowned by two things: plenty of water and plenty of enemies

Frequent guests and much begging are disliked equally

Men like tea; women like conversation

A sheep is slaughtered on the deck on which she herself is standing [everybody gets their just deserts]

Using Radio Programmes to increase community awareness about HIV and AIDS

Source: UNDP. 16 July 2012

From left to right: Sakariye Ahmed Muhumed (Radio Hargeisa) Keith Ricketts (BBC Media Action trainer), Mohamed Dek (Radio SBC – Bossaso) and Fadumo Abdirizak (Radio Garowe) February 2012.

Sakariye Ahmed Muhumed, 29, is passionate about his profession as a producer with Radio Hargeisa. He loves knowing that through his radio programmes, he is strengthening listeners’ knowledge on different issues. But his greatest satisfaction comes from producing programmes that change people’s lives.

Sakariye recently had the opportunity to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS-related issues through his radio show after participating in a HIV media project where he helped develop 15 radio messages on HIV and AIDS. ‘‘My experience in this training has been rewarding. The most interesting part was to interact with people living with HIV and hearing their stories and the challenges they face due to stigma and discrimination by their families and the community. Now I know that I have to treat them the same way I would like to be treated”, says Sakariye.

Sakariye was one of ten radio producers selected from Puntland and Somaliland to take part in the project facilitated by BBC Media Action and funded by UNDP Somalia. BBC Media Action has experience working on similar HIV radio campaigns in other African countries and based on this were selected to lead the training.

During the training participants developed 15 radio messages on HIV prevention, care and treatment to broadcast on their own radio stations. The overall objective of this HIV project is to promote supportive attitudes towards people living with HIV and highlight human rights and gender issues linked to HIV in Somalia. The project also addresses stigma and discrimination all too often associated with HIV in Somalia.

Through the radio spots that were produced, the media project is helping to raise awareness of existing HIV services such as Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT), Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) and the availability of Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) medication.

Representatives from both Puntland and Somaliland AIDS Commissions participated in this project, alongside representatives from both Somaliland and Puntland Ministries of Health and Information, People Living with HIV (PLHIV), radio station managers, producers, religious leaders and representatives from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

Sakariye’s involvement in the training has helped him to have a better understanding of HIV and AIDS-related issues and he is grateful that he is in a position to share the knowledge with others through his radio station – Radio Hargeisa. Sakariye believes that the use of radio as a communication medium is one of the most effective ways of spreading messages on HIV to a large group of people. In future, he intends to use the knowledge he gained from the training to make more programmes that will impact on his listeners’ lives as well as the community.

Note: We would like to dedicate this HIV Media project to Farhan Jeemis Abdulle who participated in producing these messages, and was a leading radio producer for Radio Daljir who was sadly killed in Galkayo on 2 May 2012.

Somaliland: Tens of thousands in need of urgent Food Aid

July 13, 2012. IRIN.

Hargeisa-The village of Garbadadar in the Golis mountains, 125km northwest of Hargeisa, is now hosting several hundred drought-displaced families.

“We came here to search for a livelihood or get support from the government of Somaliland, citizens or international aid workers because we lost our animals. But we are yet to get any; now we are relying on local people’s support,” Mohamed Hassan, a father of five, told journalists.

“We get some food sometimes, and sometimes we [do] not. We hope the Almighty Allah will help us,” said Amina Omar, a mother of three.

In a 24 June statement, Somaliland president Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud (Silanyo) appealed for help in responding to the drought: “It is estimated that up to 20,000 households have been affected. These people require emergency assistance in food, water, medical care and shelter. If we do not respond and attend to their needs immediately, we might lose many of them, particularly the most vulnerable, the young and the old, to starvation and dehydration.”

Day-time temperatures in the coastal areas of Somaliland exceed 40 degrees Celsius at this time of year. Somaliland has experienced worsening drought since March.

A May-June update by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit expressed concern about the plight of pastoralists with sheep or goats along parts of the Indian Ocean coastline which received poor to no rainfall. A third consecutive failed `Hays’ rainy season (December-February) in the Guban area of Awdal region and in the Waqooyi Galbeed region led to a large outmigration of livestock to the nearby Golis mountains.

Somaliland: Release prisoner of conscience


Amnesty International is calling on the Somaliland authorities to immediately and unconditionally release elder Boqor Osman Mohamoud Buurmadow, a prisoner of conscience. Amnesty International is also urging the Somaliland authorities to quash the conviction against him, after he was sentenced on 8 July to one year’s imprisonment after conviction for “insulting a public official”.

Boqor Osman Mohamoud Buurmadow has been detained since 15 March 2012, when he was arrested at the airport of Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital, upon his return from the United Arab Emirates. The basis for his conviction relates to his criticism in 2011, while he was in the United Arab Emirates, of a visit to China by the President of the Republic of Somaliland. Amnesty International previously wrote to the Somaliland authorities to call for his release, but has to date received no answer from them. Amnesty International outlined in its letter that he was being detained and charged with criminal offences solely for having peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by Article 32 of the Somaliland Constitution and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On 9 July, the day after the verdict, Boqor Osman Mohamoud Buurmadow was transferred from Hargeisa prison to Mandera prison, some 70 km away from Hargeisa, where conditions are said to be harsh. This increases fears for his health, which Amnesty International has already brought to the attention of the Somaliland authorities. Boqor Osman Mohamoud Buurmadow ran out months ago of the medicine prescribed to him in the United Arab Emirates for high blood pressure and a number of other conditions. He should be released urgently so that he can seek the health care that he needs. For so long as he remains in detention, the Somaliland authorities have an obligation to ensure that he receives adequate health care.

Amnesty International is also concerned at the use of criminal charges against Boqor Osman Mohamoud Buurmadow for exercising his right to freedom of expression. Initially he was charged with “anti-national activity of a citizen abroad”, “subversive or anti-national propaganda” and “continuing offence”, all offences under the Somaliland Penal Code, but on 8 July, the judge dismissed these charges and instead found him guilty of “insulting a public official”, an offence punishable by six months to two years’ imprisonment, according to Article 268 of the Penal Code.

International human rights law and standards are clear that the right to freedom of expression includes the voicing of political opinions. Any restrictions imposed on the exercise of the right are permissible only for certain specific purposes (protection of national secirity or public order, public health or morals, or the rights or reputations of others), and must conform to strict tests of demonstrable necessity and proportionality and must not put in jeopardy the right itself. Political public figures should tolerate a greater degree of criticism, not less, than people generally, and accordingly, criminal or other laws which provide special protection against criticism for public officials are not consistent with respect for freedom of expression.

The trial proceedings against Boqor Osman Mohamoud Buurmadow have been marred by irregularities, which Amnesty International believes could be politically motivated. Most recently, the prosecution appealed against the sentence handed out to Boqor Osman Mohamoud Buurmadow on 8 July, preventing him from converting his prison sentence into a fine and being released, as allowed under Article 109 of the Penal Code for prison sentences of a year or less. In its letter to the authorities, Amnesty International expressed concerns that he was detained for 40 days after his initial arrest before being charged, and at reports of interference by the Somaliland authorities with the trial proceedings and intimidation attempts against lawyers acting on his behalf.


Boqor Osman Mohamoud Buurmadow, aged about 45, is a traditional elder from the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in north western Somalia, who has been involved in peace mediation in local conflicts in that region. Amnesty International appealed on his behalf after he was arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he resided, in November 2011, and held incommunicado until his release in January 2012 (see Amnesty International urgent action, 5 January 2012, The information available indicates that he had been arrested by the UAE authorities at the request of the Somaliland authorities, apparently because of his criticism of the President of the Republic of Somaliland.

His detention, trial and conviction have occurred in a context of increasing restrictions on freedom of expression and the press in Somaliland. Between January and June 2012, dozens of journalists were arbitrarily arrested and detained by the Somaliland security forces, on the basis of articles they have written or items they have broadcast. While in most cases they have been detained for only a matter of days, the arrests have had a chilling effect on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression in Somaliland. In addition, at least two journalists arrested in February 2012 sustained serious injuries after being beaten in custody by members of the Somaliland security forces and had to seek medical treatment outside Somaliland. To Amnesty International’s knowledge, no investigation has been carried out into the beatings of the two journalists and no one has been held accountable.

Somali judges learn to prosecute pirates

Ramola Talwar Badam. Jul 4, 2012.

DUBAI //A group of 31 Somali judges and prosecutors will travel to the UAE in October for training in holding piracy trials.

The workshops are part of a UAE-French initiative to equip the Somali judicial system to try its own piracy cases, rather than relying on other nations to prosecute them.

"We are working with the UAE to train judges, prosecutors and clerks to set up a strong framework for trying cases related to pirates," said Jocelyne Caballero, special anti-piracy representative from the French ministry of foreign and European affairs.

"We want to support Somalia to prosecute pirates on their own. Being judged by their own authority will have much more effect than prosecutions abroad."

The first group to undergo two judicial training sessions will be chosen from Somalia and the semiautonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland.

"The curriculum and the programme will be taught in the UAE," said Ms Caballero.

An official from the UAE's international security department confirmed the plans and said it would also look at training some Somali legal authorities to instruct others at home.

"The training will also be for law teachers," the source said. "We are still working on details."

Somali piracy cost governments and the shipping industry more than Dh25 billion last year, the advocacy group One Earth Future Foundation says.

More than 200 sailors are being held hostage by Somali pirates, and 62 have lost their lives to pirates since 2007.

The secretary general of the United Nations issued a report in January suggesting Somaliland and Puntland could be suitable locations to prosecute pirates. At the time, concerns were raised about whether the structure was in place for fair trials.

Neighbouring countries including Kenya, Tanzania and the Seychelles have successfully prosecuted pirates, handing down sentences of between 10 years and life in prison.

Kenya has the highest number of pirates in prison, the foundation says. Of the more than 750 in jail worldwide, 140 are in Kenya.

"Trying the pirates in Somalia is critical," said Theodore Karasik, the director of research and development at the international security consultancy Inegma.

"The steps being taken in Kenya and Tanzania are important first steps, but the system has to be created in Somalia."

The Kenyan ambassador to the UAE Mohamed Gello said prosecuting pirates in neighbouring countries such as his was also a strain on resources.

"Any move that will help the Somali judicial system effectively deal with pirates is welcome," Mr Gello said.

"This sends the right signals that law and order is slowly being restored, along with the administration of justice.

"It is crucial to build confidence in the judicial system and for the pirates to be dealt with in their own country."

In the UAE, the Federal Criminal Court sentenced 10 Somali pirates to life imprisonment in May. They were captured last year by UAE special forces and the US Fifth Fleet after they tried to hijack the UAE bulk oil carrier MV Arrilah-I.

The UAE's stance on battling piracy has long been underpinned by a belief that capturing pirates is only a first step, one that must be backed by programmes to strengthen local communities and bring stability to the area.

This was highlighted at the international counter-piracy conference in Dubai last week, co-hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Experts and diplomats there said the UAE's efforts to bolster Somalia's legal system were in line with the long-held policy that regionally led action plans were the best solution.

Finnish delegation have visited Somaliland starting from Saturday up to Thursday (9th-14th.June 2012)

NAGAAD. 09 July 2012

A delegation from the Ministry of foreign affairs in Finland made a short visit to Somaliland in order to monitor some projects implemented in Somaliland and funded by the Finnish government through ISF.

The delegation led by the representatives from Nagaad and candlelight travelled to Burao city (capital of Togdheer region) whereby the projects are being implemented. This delegation has taken two days in Hargeisa and three days in Togdheer region with official representatives from Nagaad and Candlelight to oversee the project implemented in 30 rural villages for Enhancing women's participation in both rural and urban level decision making at all levels of society in Togdheer region.

The delegation that made visit to Burao was composed of two Finnish officials from the ministry of foreign affairs of Finland. Nagaad executive Director and candlelight chairperson. As soon as the delegation reached Burao city, they started to have successive meetings with different stakeholders and key actors in the region. The delegation had the first meeting with Nagaad regional field office staff in the presence of Nagaad’s executive director. In the meeting, the Nagaad’s Executive Director has taken the speech and she welcomed the delegation to the region. She also thanked them for the long way journey to the rural areas in Somaliland and the generous support they provided to Somaliland people.

In addition to that, the Nagaad’s Executive Director has made brief presentation about the relationship of Nagaad network and International Solidarity Foundation. She expressed that long term partnership between ISF and Nagaad started from 2000. Miss Nafisa stated that Nagaad has successfully implemented different projects with ISF on women’s empowerment and in decision making since this partnership was started.

In the Next day, the delegation was led to the working field sites of the project and made visit to the rural target villages including Bali-hiile, Lebigun and Bilcil-Wayso. the head officer of Bali-hiile village has officially welcomed the team and thanked their productive efforts, Mr. Bile has mentioned that literacy program made big change to the adult people and that women and men participated and they can read & write and manage their own business. The elder requested from the delegation to extend the basic literacy and numeracy programme for the village which enabled them to learn Basic English language and mathematics.

The spokesman of target village stated that many women and men have been taught and now can read and write. They can receive awareness raising messages and manage recording of their own businesses. Also, the community of Bilcil-wayso welcomed the delegation with well arranged venue and provided to the team delicious camel milk. As soon as the session started, the vice head of the village Mr. Hassan Muse has expressed their feelings to the delegation in their location, projects implemented in this village and how far change it resulted.

Ms Maryan Ahmed Haydle spoke on behalf of women in Bilcil-wayso has expressed her words, that women graduated from the literacy course have benefited and now can calculate their business, they also received messages about human rights and health from Nagaad network and candlelight, which made them understand their basic rights including women’s participation in decision making. She was amazingly expressed that she is now ready to be candidate for the coming elections of Local councils and wishes from women in Bilcil-ways to for her.

During the field visit, Shukri, Representative of candlelight, extended her gratitude to the people who gathered in the meeting place for how they learned and benefited the project. She motivated

Them to collaborate in fighting against FGM and raise their awareness on its consequences.

Head of Finnish delegation (AARETTI SIITONEN) spoke in the 3 sites and he acknowledged people for how they welcomed and fresh camel milk. Really, you all mentioned that you have learned a lot. Both your teachers and leaders mentioned that you were blind before and you are now seeing well. If you do not allow women participate in all spheres of life, be aware that you are like one eye-folded, while they participate, both of your eyes are well open. He encouraged women’s role in the society.

Miss Nafisa, Nagaad Executive Director extended much gratitude to the delegation from Finland, the long way journey for their great support. Also, she acknowledged the local people for their participation and how they expressed the benefits of the project run by Nagaad/candlelight. Today, I am very pleased to hear from women at grassroots level who understand their rights and be proud of their political will and ready for the participation of the upcoming local elections. Lastly, I concluded my speech women should vote for women who stand for election positions.

Meeting with other institutions: The finnish delegation has meetings with representatives of the Ministry of Labor & Social Affairs, Ministry of Education and Burao University.

In addition to that team, they had a separate meeting with Togdheer governor, Honorable, Abdoo Ahmed at his office. The team was consisting of Finish delegation, Nagaad and Candlelight team. The team expressed that visit purpose is to oversee the progress of the projects funded by Ministry of foreign affairs of Finland through international Solidarity foundation ISF and implemented by, Nagaad Network and Candlelight in Togdheer region.

The governor has welcomed the delegation and stated that they (government) are very eager to what Nagaad and Candlelight is doing in Togdheer region. Honor Abdoo also made explanation about the security of the region and stated that community is policing and collaboratively working with government especially police stations and governor’s office.

Somalia: Bomb Blast Rocks Northern Somalia City

Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu) 8 July 2012.

Las'anod — Heavy explosion was heard in the heart of Las'anod town, the capital of Somalia's northern province of Sool, Witnesses and Officials said on Sunday.

Residents said Unknown assailants attacked with a hand grenade on a home for the head of Somaliland's spy for Sool region, Arab Ibrahim, killing 1 and injuring three, all from the relatives of Mr. Ibrahim.

"At least one person dead and three others sustained serious wounds in a hand grenade attack in Las' anod city of northern Somalia," Witnesses said on Sunday.

Mr. Ibrahim was reported escaped from the attack unhurt.

Somaliland security forces begun urgent investigations on the blast in the town, arresting ten people suspected over the attack, according to the locals, whom Shabelle Media contacted on the phone.

There is an alarming territorial dispute over the northern Somali regions of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) between the autonomous Puntland,Somaliland and the newly established Khaatumo state.

Las Anod town and its surrounding area has been the site of several major skirmishes in recent months between the self-declared Somaliland military and fighters loyal to Khaatumo state.

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991, but is not yet internationally recognized.

Somaliland court sentences elder to one-year jail term

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 08 July 2012. website in Somali 8 Jul 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The Maroodi-Jeh provincial court has this morning sentenced a traditional clan elder Aw Mahmud alias Bur Madaw, to one year in jail. The court said it used the 156 clause in the constitution which stipulates the punishment for anyone who insults Somaliland leaders.

Today's sentencing came after a two-month court case. The elder stayed in custody for four months.

Lawyer Mubarak Jama'a Arar, one of the elder's two defence attorneys, who addressed the media at the gate of the court, said the ruling was not done fairly. He said they will appeal.

Blast targets Somaliland head of intelligence in disputed northern region

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 08 July 2012. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 8 Jul 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

A bomb explosion targeting head of intelligence unit for Somaliland's [autonomous northern Somali state] administration in Sool[disputed northern Somalia] region has resulted in casualties, as [intelligence] forces implemented security operations in which many were arrested.

Members of intelligence forces began broad search operations seeking those involved in the attack on Arab Ibrahim, leader of Somaliland administration's intelligence unit.

Area residents confirmed to Shabelle that one person was killed and three others, who are relatives of the intelligence officer, were injured during the attack on his residence.

Somaliland administration reportedly detained 10 people who are suspected to be involved in the blast. Suspects are held captive in Laas Caanood town prison, Sool region.

Somaliland administration's security forces have still not provided details of their operation and captives to journalists, despite the fact that most of the detained individuals are youth from Laas Caanood town in Sool region.

Recently, a gang armed with guns killed the Chairman of Sool region court, as cases of planned murders rise in the region.

Credit: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 8 Jul 12

Somaliland Continues to Strive for Recognition

Alexander Macdonald. July 8, 2012

Amid the lawless bloodbath that is Somalia, the northern state of Somaliland remains a rare example of functioning democracy in the Muslim world.

Unlike the rest of Somalia, Somaliland has maintained relative stability and peace despite occasional border conflicts with the semi-autonomous Somali province of Puntland. Since its unilateral referendum on independence in 2001, Somaliland has remained dedicated to free democratic elections, as demonstrated by the presidential elections in 2003 and 2010 as well as parliamentary and local elections.

Furthermore, Somaliland has been a major partner in combating regional piracy. In 2010, Somaliland built a maximum security prison (with the help of the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime) to relieve the burden of regional partners lacking the capacity and/or will to incarcerate pirates.

Despite its dedication to democracy and the rule of law, Somaliland’s independence is not internationally recognized. Though the U.S. has recognized the need for a stable area to serve as a bulwark against terrorism and an ally in fighting piracy, the Obama Administration currently follows the position of the African Union by refusing to acknowledge Somaliland’s independence, reluctant to encourage further portioning of African nations.

The presidents of Somalia and Somaliland have met in Dubai and London to discuss Somaliland’s future relations with Somalia. According to Somalia’s new constitution, Somaliland is recognized as part of Somalia, thus voiding its independence. This is a non-starter for Somaliland, as a coerced reunification would likely bring chaos rather than opportunities for growth and stability.

Recognizing Somaliland’s independence, or at least establishing some form of official representation there, would allow the U.S. to expand cooperation with Somaliland in fighting piracy, both through increased military and intelligence coordination and through increased economic development in the area, which could provide would-be pirates with legitimate employment.

Somaliland can provide a model for a stable working democracy in the region and a sign that the future in the larger area of the Horn of Africa is not without hope.

Alexander Macdonald is an intern in the Davis Policy Center at The Heritage Foundation.

Portuguese national held in Somalia over suspected Al-Qa'idah membership

BBC Monitoring European [London] 05 July 2012. Diario de Noticias website, Lisbon, in Portuguese 5 Jul 12 p 17/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

[Report by L.L. and J.B.: "Portuguese National Suspected of Being Al-Qa'idah Member"]

A man identified as a Portuguese national has been held this week in Somaliland, a region of Somalia that has declared itself independent, on suspicion of being a member of the Al-Shabaab group, the armed wing of Al-Qa'idah in the unstable African country. The local authorities have not disclosed further details about the detainee or his identity (he might only hold a Portuguese passport), limiting themselves to describing him as the first foreigner to have been held for terrorism in the territory of northern Somalia.

As well as the Portuguese national, more than 10 men were captured in the operation, all of them Somalis. They are suspected of having assassinated a judge last week.

"Our inquiries led us to a Portuguese man who is a member of Al-Shabaab. This is a great victory for our state, the police, and the military," said Muhammad M. Ali, the governor of Sool, quoted by Waaheen News.

The information released by the Somaliland authorities provides no further details about the detainee. He is always referred to as a Portuguese national, although it is not specified whether he is a native of Portugal or merely the holder of a Portuguese passport. Diario de Noticias tried, unsuccessfully, to obtain clarification from the Portuguese Foreign Ministry.

According to Governor Mohamed Ali, the police operation was conducted over the course of several nights this week. Lightning raids were made, enabling the arrests, which were carried out on different days.

The crime that triggered the police action was the gunning down of a judge. The magistrate was watching a Euro 2012 soccer game when a group of armed men burst in on him after breaking into his house and shot him dead. This was the second murder of a judge in the city of Las Anod in the space of a month. In recent years, dozens of magistrates have been assassinated in the region.

This escalation of the violence has led to stepping up security measures in Somaliland, a very unsafe territory, insofar as it is a part of Somalia that has declared itself independent. The African country has been in a state of civil war and chaos for several years, piracy being one of its main problems.

Several arrests were made in the operation, but neither names nor numbers have been released. "We caught the assailants that killed the deputy attorney general and a number of suspects that are members of Al-Shabaab," the governor of Sool told Waaheen News.

According to local sources, cited by the same media outlet, a similar operation was carried out in the capital, Hargeysa, where suspects were also arrested. Hargeysa has not suffered any terrorist threat since 2008, when Al-Shabaab carried out three suicide attacks on government and UN buildings. In total, 20 people were killed.

Al-Shabaab is mainly active in Somalia. It is estimated that since 2004 more than 3,000 individuals have entered Somalia to join the Islamic fundamentalist group in the fight against the current Somali power, which has the support of the neighbouring state of Ethiopia. "Shabaab" means youth, and the organization draws many young Muslims into its ranks.

Somaliland president welcomes recent talks with Somalia in UAE

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 04 July 2012. Radio Bar-Kulan website, Nairobi, in Somali 0000 3 Jul 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

A delegation led by the president of the breakaway republic of Somaliland, Ahmad Muhammad Mahmud, alias Silanyo, has returned home from Dubai after holding talks with the leader of the Somali transitional government Sharif Shaykh Ahmad, UN-backed Radio Bar-Kulan website reported on 3 July.

Addressing the media, Silanyo said the talks with the president of Somalia's transitional government t "ended in good atmosphere as they agreed on significant issues".

During the London conference on Somalia, the transitional government and Somaliland authorities were "pressured by the international community" to start talks aimed deliberating on the breakaway republic's future.

Somaliland has not gained international recognition since it declared its independence from the rest of the country at the start of the civil in the Horn of Africa nation more than two decades ago.

Aid agency hands over hospital to Somaliland authorities

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 04 July 2012. Radio Bar-Kulan website, Nairobi, in English 1000 3 Jul 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The international aid organization, Medecins Sans Frontieres of The Netherlands has "handed over a hospital in Ceerigaabo to the Health Ministry" of the breakaway state of Somaliland, UN-backed Radio Bar-Kulan website reported on 3 July.

According to the report, Somaliland appointed Dr Arabeto as the director of the hospital.

"This came after MSF concluded its two year-contract which it signed with Somaliland," added the website.

Nimo Husayn Qowdhan, Somaliland's deputy health minister, commended the aid organization for its efforts in making hospitals in the state operational and covering the basic health needs of the residents of Sanaag Region in northeastern Somalia.

Ten suspected Al-Shabab fighters arrested in joint Somaliland, British operation

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 02 July 2012. Jamhuuriya, Hargeysa, in Somali 1 Jul 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

A joint operation by Somaliland and British intelligence agencies in Hargeysa is said to have led to the detention of a number of people suspected of having links with terrorist groups.

There was no word from the Somaliland intelligence agency regarding the detention of the people suspected of having links with Al-Shabab, which is fighting in Somalia. The people were arrested on Friday night [29 June] from their homes in Hargeysa. However, sources told Jamhuuriya that the operation conducted by Somaliland intelligence officers assisted by other security forces and their British counterparts led to the arrest of 10 suspected members of Al-Shabab. [Passage omitted]

Ethiopian Airlines resumes flights to Somalia's breakaway region

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 02 July 2012. Jowhar website, Mogadishu, in Somali 2 Jul 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Ethiopian Airlines has today officially resumed its flights to Berbera in [the breakaway state of] Somaliland, four years after it suspended them.

The Somaliland aviation minister, Mahmud Hashi Abdi, said the first Ethiopian Airlines plane landed at Berbera Airport at around 5p.m [1400 gmt].

The airliner suspended its flights [to the state] in October 2008 following blasts in Hargeysa.

The suicide blasts were targeted at the Ethiopian embassy, the presidential and United Nations Development Programme compounds in Hargeysa. [Passage omitted].

Somalia: Nutrition forecast for June-July 2012 June 29, 2012

The nutrition situation among rural,urban and IDP populations across Somalia is likely to remain unchanged since January 2012. Northern and central regions are projected to remain in Serious- Critical phases, while southern regions will likely remain in Very Critical phase, except for Lower Shabelle in Critical phase where average crop harvests are anticipated. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are likely to remain in Critical-Very Critical nutrition phase except for Hargeisa IDPs, in sustained Serious phase, Mogadishu IDPs in Critical and Mogadishu Urban in Serious phases, based on surveys conducted in April-June 2012 (Maps 1 and 2).

Full-text 14 pgs

Northwest Nutrition Situation of Internally Displaced Persons in Hargeisa, Burao and Berbera Settlements

The post Deyr ‘11/12 nutrition situation analysis classified the Northwest IDPs in Hargeisa in a Serious phase, Burao as Very Critical and Berbera as Critical. Findings from May/June 2012 nutrition surveys indicate the nutrition situation of the IDPs in Hargeisa in a sustained Serious phase; an improvement has been noted among the Burao IDPs to Critical, and Berbera in a sustained Critical phase.

Hargeisa Town IDPs:

The nutrition situation among the Hargeisa IDP is sustained at Serious levels since September 2007. Findings among Hargeisa IDPs where a total of 497 children aged 6-59 months were assessed in May 2012 indicate a Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM WHZ<-2 or oedema) and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM WHZ<-3 or oedema) rates of 12.0% (9.2-15.5) and 2.9% (1.7-4.8) respectively including two oedema cases (0.4%). This indicates a sustained Serious nutrition situation in comparison to findings from an assessment in November 2011 which reported a GAM rate of 12.0% (8.9-16.1) and a SAM rate 1.3% (0.7-5.0). Findings indicate that more boys (14.9%) than girls (9.2%) are acutely malnourished, however the difference is not statistically significant (p>0.05). The retrospective crude and under five death rates are 0.14 (0.03-0.61) and 0.21 (0.03-1.65) per 10,000 per day a slight improvement compared to the previous rates of 0.38 (0.20-0.71) and 0.44 (0.14-1.40) per 10,000 per day, indicating a sustained acceptable situation according to UNICEF reference standards.

Burao Town IDPs:

The nutrition situation among the Burao IDPs has improved from Very Critical in November 2011 to Critical, partly due to increased humanitarian assistance7 in form of general and targeted food distribution, cash and voucher systems to supplement households needs as well as health and water and sanitation services.

Findings from May 2012 nutrition assessment where 517 children aged 6-59 months were assessed indicate a GAM rate of 18.4% (15.3-26.3) and a SAM rate of 4.3% (2.6-7.9) including 3 oedema (0.6%) cases. These indicate a Critical nutrition situation and a improvement from the Very Critical level reported in November 2011 when a GAM rate of 20.3% (15.3-26.3) and SAM rate of 4.5% (2.6-7.9) was recorded. The difference is however not statistically significant (p>0.05). Further analysis indicates more boys (23.6%) than girls (13.5%) are acutely malnourished though the difference is not statistically significant (p>0.05).

The death rates indicate a Serious situation according to UNICEF reference standards, with crude and under five death rates of 0.50 (0.28-0.88) and 1.01 (0.36-2.80) per 10,000 per day reported.

Berbera Town IDPs:

The nutrition situation among the IDPs in Berbera town is sustained at Critical levels since Deyr ‘11/12. Findings from the May 2012 nutrition assessment where a sample of 555 children aged 6-59 months was assessed indicate a GAM rate of 16.3% (13.6-19.3) and SAM rate of 3.5% (2.1-5.6) including one oedema case (0.2%). This indicates a sustained Critical nutrition situation, findings from a similar assessment in November 2011 reported a GAM rate of 18% and a SAM rate 3.6%. Results indicate that more boys (19.0%) than girls (13.6%) are acutely malnourished but the difference is not statistically significant. The retrospective crude and under five death rates are 0.49 (0.39-0.79) and 0.74 (0.28) per 10,000 per day, indicating a sustained acceptable situation according to UNICEF reference standards.

The MUAC assessment of women of reproductive age (15-49 years) identified 1.1%, 6.4% and 2.0% of the women assessed in Hargeisa, Burao and Berbera respectively as acutely malnourished, the majority (>85%) of whom were either pregnant or lactating. This may be attributed to increased demand for nutrients among pregnant and lactating women to meet their physiological needs. A summary of findings is provided in the Table 5.

Enumerator Interviewing a mother in Hargeisa IDP camp

In the three IDP populations assessed, high morbidity levels which are a risk to malnutrition persist among the assessed populations. Interventions by NGOs on the ground in the form of outpatient and targeted feeding are mitigating the situation to some extent. The proportion of assessed children in the three IDP settlements reportedly immunized against measles and those who received vitamin A supplementation is between than 74% to 84%, though this is high, it is still below the recommended 95% coverage (SPHERE, 2011) as shown on Table 5. In addition, in all the IDP settlements assessed, more than 78% of the women of reproductive age have reportedly received at least one dose of tetanus vaccine.

Child feeding practices remain poor among all IDPs with more than 90% of the assessed children aged 6-24 months consuming poorly diversified diets comprising of three or fewer food groups. In addition, early cessation of breastfeeding is a common practice while most children do not meet the recommended minimum feeding frequency.

The mitigating factors in the current situation include increased humanitarian interventions in the form of targeted feeding program in addition to outreach feeding programmes by MoH and other local and international health and nutrition partners. Social support from diaspora and within the country has also helped to mitigate the situation.There is need for continued support to the displaced population in terms of targeted food supplementation, incomegenerating activities, health education, shelter improvement and continued immunization programmes and other development interventions to improve the health and nutrition situation of the vulnerable IDPs in Somaliland.

Press-release: Republic of Somaliland and Somalia talks

Ref: MOI/PR/4/2012. Minister of information & National Guidance. June 29, 2012

Between 20 and 21 June, representatives of the Republic of Somaliland and the TFG held talks in the United Kingdom following the commitments in the London and Istanbul communiqués to support dialogue between the two parties in order to help them clarify their future relations. The Somaliland delegation was led by the Foreign Minister, Dr Mohamed A Omar.

The meeting focused on the framework for the future dialogue, and areas of potential cooperation between Somaliland and the TFG and its successor. The meeting called on the Presidents of Somaliland and the TFG to meet to review progress as soon as possible. To that end, President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo is currently in Dubai to endorse the outcome of the talks.

As part of its commitment to ensuring peace, stability and democracy throughout the Horn of Africa, the Somaliland representatives reiterated their support for ending the transition in Somalia. Such a declaration in no way implies that Somaliland is becoming an internal actor in the Somalia Road Map process; it is simply endorsing the establishment of a legitimate government in our neighbour, Somalia, a position which Somaliland shares with the international community, and which is in Somaliland’s interests. As His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Somaliland overtly declared both in his commemoration of the 52nd anniversary of the independence and on his departure to the Somali talks:“Somaliland’s independence is irreversible and unnegotiable.”

Abdirahmaan Yuusuf Duale”Bobe”. Minister of information & National Guidance official spokesman of the government of Somaliland.

Hundreds rally in support of Somalia-Somaliland talks

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 29 June 2012. Jowhar website, Mogadishu, in Somali 0000 29 Jun 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Hundreds of Mogadishu residents have gathered in the capital's main stadium in support of the talks between the Transitional Federal Government [TFG] of Somalia and Somaliland administration.

Government and security officials attended the demonstration and welcomed the recent talks in London between officials from the two sides and the meeting involving TFG Presidents Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmad and [Ahmad Muhammad] Silanyo of Somaliland.

The Mayor of Mogadishu, Ahmad Nur Tarsan, who organized the protest, said they are showing their jubilation regarding the talks that could unite Somalia.

"Thank you for supporting the unity of Somalia; we welcome the talks because they unify us. Mogadishu is the mirror of the country and so we welcome the talks," the mayor said.

Carrying placards, the demonstrators performed traditional dances in support of the new era for the people of northern and southern [regions of Somalia].

This is the first protest in Mogadishu since talks between TFG and Somalia began.

Presidents Sharif and Silanyo met in Dubai, UAE on 28 June.

UAE directs Somali peace initiative

By Allan Jacob. Khaleej Times, June 28, 2012

DUBAI - In a major boost to the peace process in the Horn of Africa, Somalia and Somaliland broke the ice at a landmark meeting after two decades of conflict on Thursday.

The presidents of the two governments were brought to the table for the first time by the UAE at the counter piracy conference, and talked as equals in a bid to bring stability and build trust in the region.

Both groups agreed to the continuation of the formal dialogue that began in London last week and two committees will continue the talks in ‘‘order to clarify the relationship’’, according a statement signed by the Somalia transitional government President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Somaliland’s President Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo.

‘‘The significant commitment reflects the UAE’s support to the current historic developments in Somalia. It also represents the confidence of the states of Somalia’s neighbourhood, and the international community, in the capacity to ensure that Somalia and its people are once again able to enjoy peace stabilily and prosperity,’’ said Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

He said the international community must ensure that peace returns to the region and Somalia is supported to develop the ‘‘requisite capacity to enforce maritime safety and security within its territorial waters’’. Somali ownership is essential for a long-term solution, he added.

‘‘This is a big development to improve the welfare of the people in the region and to help our economies. It will also bring down crime and piracy,’’ said Sheikh Ahmed.’’

Somaliland President Silanyo, however, said his region would remain independent and would help build neighbouring Somalia’s fledgling institutions after the transitional government’s tenure expires in August 20. Ali Ahmed, adviser to Silanyo, said Somaliland’s police forces could help train forces in Somalia. ‘‘The world community appears to be closer to accepting our status as an independent entity, with a robust political process which has brought peace to the region,’’ he said.

The agreement signed today is not about unity. It is to fight piracy and terrorism and to solve economic problems in a safe neighbourhood, Somaliland’s Foreign Minister Dr Mohammed Abdullah Omar told Khaleej Times.

Somaliland is a relatively quiet part of the country which holds regular elections and transfers of power have peaceful. Somalia, on the other hand, has been torn by civil strife and is beset with a host of economic and political problems since 1991 when the last dictator Siad Barre was shown the door.

The government in Mogadishu has maintained its demand for a unified Somalia with Somaliland in the north-west. The first high-level official talks were held in London last week and paved the way for a meeting of the two presidents in Dubai on Thursday.

‘‘This was a good opportunity to understand our differences and was held in a cordial atmosphere, with help from the UAE which brought us together,’’ said Ali Ahmed.

Mogadishu, Somaliland sign cooperation deal: report

DUBAI (AFP )- Thursday, June 28, 2012

The leaders of Somalia and Somaliland have agreed to boost cooperation between the different factions in Somalia, a country battered by more than two decades of civil war, WAM news agency reported on Thursday.

Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed met in Dubai with his counterpart Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo of Somaliland in the first formal and direct talks since Somaliland broke away in 1991.

The two men signed the "Dubai Charter" in the presence of the leaders of Puntland and Galmudug, two self-proclaimed autonomous regions in Somalia.

The charter follows talks in London and Istanbul earlier this year and reinforces "international efforts for reconciliation among all Somali parties," WAM said.

Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs who attended the signing, hailed the agreement.

"It is a good start to build cooperation and coordination between the Somali parties in order to reach a solution in Somalia that serves the interests of all," he said.

The oil-rich United Arab Emirates in the Gulf "will help Somalis reach stability," Gargash said.

Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said the agreement offers a "framework for discussion between Somalis after more than 20 years of separation" in the hope of "satisfactory solutions that will help bring together all Somali parties."

Somalia has been without a stable central authority since the 1991 ouster of Siad Barre sparked two decades of civil war. The agreement was agreed on the sidelines of Dubai's second international anti-piracy conference, which ended on Thursday with an appeal to the private and public sectors to help eradicate piracy off the Somali coast.

The Emirates pledged a contribution of $1 million to the United Nations trust fund for the fight against piracy.

Veteran politician skeptical of talks between Federal Government, Somaliland

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 28 June 2012. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 27 Jun 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Ismail Huure Buube, a veteran Somali politician who has held various positions in government while speaking to Shabelle said although talks between the Federal Government and Somaliland were a good thing, each had their own agenda.

Ismail said although it is a good thing that both sides are now in talks, Somaliland plans to use it as an opportunity to cement its succession while the Federal Government officials plan to use it an election campaign tool to get support on grounds that they are engaging Somaliland in talks. He said this is not the best time for talks between the Federal Government and the Somaliland administration and that it should been postponed until there was a new Somali government in place given that the current administration's term in office is about to lapse.

The statement by this veteran politician comes at a time when the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia [TFG] President Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmad is to hold talks with Somaliland President who arrived in Dubai yesterday.

Somali and Somaliland presidents meet in Dubai

28 June 2012.BBC.

The presidents of Somalia and Somaliland have held their first formal talks since Somaliland broke away more than two decades ago.

The meeting, in Dubai, followed talks in Britain where their representatives discussed ways of clarifying their relationship.

The two men, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Ahmed Silanyo, said steps have been taken to continue the dialogue.

Mogadishu wants Somaliland to be part of a single Somali state.

But the northern territory, which broke away in 1991, wants to be a separate country and is awaiting international recognition.

Since declaring independence, Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace in contrast to the rest of Somalia, which has been plagued by conflict.

The first formal direct contact in 21 years between the authorities in southern Somalia, formerly governed by Italy, and the Somaliland administration, which used to be a British colony, happened on 21 June near London.

Britain, Norway and the European Union have said they want the two sides to negotiate a settlement.

Somaliland agreed to enter into the talks during a February meeting in London, when 40 global leaders met to tackle piracy, terrorism and political instability in Somalia.

But its administration says its priority is to remain separate from the rest of Somalia - and wants Mogadishu to recognise its independence.

Somaliland unilaterally declared independence after the overthrow of Siad Barre - who led Somalia's last functioning national government.

It is relatively stable and holds regular elections which have seen peaceful transfers of power - unlike the rest of the country, which has been racked by continued conflict ever since.

Somaliland President flies to Dubai to ratify the Chevening House Declaration

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Somaliland president and a delegation accompanying him left Berbera airport today for Dubai talks with the TFG representatives on the future relations of the two countries .

The president will meet the delegation of the TFG that is led by Sheikh Sharif in Dubai in the coming few days, according local sources. This meeting will be a follow up on the recent talks in England by delegations of the two nations.

The Somaliland delegation includes president Silanyo, former president – Riyale, the Defence Minister and the Chair of Kulmiye ruling party. The Somaliland representatives who laid the foundation for the talks in Chevening House will also join the president in the UAE.

On the other hand, the TFG will be represented in the talks by president Sharif, the defence minister and the delegation of the Somali government who attended the Chevening House Talks in UK .

The Chevening House Declaration. JUNE 2012

1. Following the commitments in the London and Istanbul communiqués that the international community would support dialogue between the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (or its replacement) and Somaliland to clarify their future relations, the two sides met at a technical level on 20?21 June at Chevening.

2. The meeting was hosted by the UK and co?hosted by Norway and EU, at the request of the two sides.

3. The purpose of these preparatory talks was to establish a framework for future substantive talks.

4. The participants of the meeting welcomed the opening of a dialogue and emphasised their commitment to the continuation of these talks.

5. The participants:

(i) Agreed that the talks would take place between two sides ? the TFG (or its replacement) and Somaliland, in accordance with paragraph 6 of the London Conference Communiqué and paragraph 10 of the Istanbul II Conference Communiqué;
(ii) Noted the need to adopt a common approach to avoid anything that would undermine the continuation of the talks as defined above;
(iii) Committed to the continuation of the talks and called on the two presidents to meet to review progress as soon as possible;
(iv) Called on the international community to continue to facilitate the talks, including providing the two sides with external experts on legal, economic and security matters;
(v) Agreed to share experience on working more effectively with the international community on the use of development and humanitarian assistance for the people of both sides and called for the international community to increase that assistance;
(vi) Agreed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, extremism and serious crime;
(vii) Agreed to cooperate in the fight against piracy at sea and on land, maritime crime, illegal fishing and toxic dumping; and
(viii) Reiterated their support for ending the Transition in Somalia.

USAID launches the first grants program for the private sector in Somaliland

Report—US Agency for International Development 20 June 2012 | Hargeisa, Somalia

26 Jun 2012.

USAID’s Partnership for Economic Growth program today launched the Partnership Fund, the first USAID grants program for the private sector in Somaliland. $900,000 is being awarded to 13 private businesses. 250 new full time jobs, with an estimated one third for women and over 50% for youth, will be created in a variety of sectors, including livestock, dairy, fisheries, micro-finance, energy, and general trade. Over 1300 businesswomen and men will find better employment opportunities as a result of the Fund’s investment in new technologies, new processing facilities, and improved product distribution.

Nearly 300 proposals underwent a transparent competitive selection process involving the Partnership program, government officials, and the Somaliland Chamber of Commerce. Proposals were rated based on feasibility, the number of jobs being created, and the businesses’ own financial or in-kind contribution.

The Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Abdirizak Khalif Ahmed, the Chairman of the Agricultural Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, Engineer Mohamed Yusuf Iman, the Minister of Agriculture, representatives from the Ministries of Planning and Mines, Energy and Water Resources, USAID representatives, and the 13 grantees participated in the launch. “The business community is really thankful for the Partnership Fund, said Yusuf Mohamed Ali of Horumar Camel Dairy Farm, because without commercial banks, there are very few ways to grow a business.”

This initiative is part of the USAID Partnership for Economic Growth program, a $13 million program which partners with government and private sector to promote investment and strengthen livestock, agriculture, and energy production.

For more information, please contact Marybeth McKeever at or visit

Somalia: Seven Killed in Northern Tribal Group Fighting

26 June 2012. Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

Buhodle — At least seven people are reportedly killed more than number were injured in a heavy fighting between two armed militias loyal to local clans dwell in a township near Buhodle city of Togdheer region, reports said.

The firefight broke out after tribal fighters carrying weapons attacked a village run by band of militia loyal to another clan in the area, according to a local resident.

At least seven combatants from both warring sides are confirmed to have been killed in the clashes.

The cause of the skirmish could not be independently verified as the both rival sides have yet to release any comments on the violence.

The town of Buhodle is one of the disputed areas in northern Somalia between the newly established Khatumo state, Puntland and Somaliland.

Somali official censures Puntland, Somaliland over use of old passport

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 24 June 2012. Jowhar website, Mogadishu, in Somali 24 Jun 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The director of the Immigration and Gender Affairs department, Gen Abdullahi Gafow Mahmud, has accused the administrations of [the semi-autonomous state of] Puntland and [self-declared republic of] Somaliland of still using the green passport and aiding criminal groups.

Gen Gafow, speaking yesterday at [Mogadishu] airport as government leaders toured the offices of the airport and activities going on there, said the immigration department has made remarkable achievements in the last three months.

"The operations at the immigration department have expanded in the last three months. Many planes land at the airport and we are planning to start night flights," said Gen Gafow.

He said they banned the usage of the green passport in 2009 although the ban became effective in 2011, adding that there are places in which it is still being used.

He said the E-passport is officially effective and offices to issue it have been opened inside and outside the country. "Puntland and Somaliland still aid terrorists because any town in which the green passport is used is a town in which terrorists are assisted. This is because terrorists, criminals, fugitives and murderers use the green passport." said Gafow.

Regional prosecutor is slain in Somaliland

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 24 June 2012. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 24 Jun 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

An armed gang have shot dead the prosecutor of Somaliland' Sool Region in Laas Caanood town.The gang which was armed with pistols killed prosecutor Ahmad Haji last night at a location where fans were watching a European football game between Spain and France.The chairman of Sool Region, Mahmud Ali Gelle, who addressed the media said that investigations were in progress and a suspect believed to be a member of the gang had already been arrested.Residents of the town said the incident was regrettable and added that steps should be taken against insecurity.Administration officials in the region have vowed to deal with the criminal gangs.

Somaliland president appeals for help for 20,000 drought-hit families

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 24 June 2012. in Somali 24 Jun 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The president of [the self-declared state of] Somaliland, Ahmad Muhammad Mahmud Silanyo, has today asked for assistance for some 20,000 families who he said are being hit by drought in the state.

Silanyo, who met aid agencies, said the people need food, water and medicine, adding that the drought that has hit the region is as a result of failure of the rainy season.

"The worst affected areas hit by the drought include Awdal Region, where it has not rained. The drought has forced many people to be flee those areas," said Silanyo.

He named the drought-hit areas as Ceel Lahelay, Fadhi Xun, Garbo-Dadar, Gargara, Waraqa-Dhigta, Cali-Xayr, Ceel Gaal. [Passage omitted]

Clan elder welcomes outcome of Somalia, Somaliland UK talks

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 23 June 2012. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 23 Jun 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

In an interview with Radio Shabeelle, the chairman of the Cultural and Unity Council of Hawiye clan, Hasan Muhammad Had, warmly welcomed talks between the transitional government and Somaliland administration, which concluded in London. The talks yielded points on which both sides agreed to cooperate.

He said the meeting, which was a prelude to talks on Somalia's unification, could bring about understanding and cooperation between the Somaliland administration and the transitional Somali government.

Although the chairman expressed optimism about the outcome of the meeting, he called for the continuation of such talks on the reunification of Somalia. He called on them [Somali government and Somaliland] to forget what happened in the past, saying there was need to work on the unity of Somalis.

It was a day ago when the Somaliland administration and the transitional government held a broad meeting in London where both sides agreed to implement the outcomes of their talks.

Somali-Somaliland Talks Wraps Up With Agreeing to an Eight-Point Plan [Washington] 22 June 2012.

Technical committees from Somaliland and Somalia who met on Thursday in Chevening House in Kent, on the outskirts of London,UK capital, have agreed to an 8-point plan including future talks.

The talks which went for two intense days at Chevening House, both parties concluded with positive outcome, mainly to establish a framework for future substantive talks between Somali and Somaliland presidents Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed and .

Both sides have sent a team of five members who ratified to an 8-point plan during their first face-to-face dialogue in 21 years with observers from the hosting and co-hosting European Union,Norwayand the British government.

Here's a summary of Chevening Declaration:

*Agreed that the talks would take place between two sides - the TFG (or its replacement) and Somaliland, in accordance with paragraph 6 of the London Conference Communique and paragraph 10 of the Istanbul II Conference Communique;
*Noted the need to adopt a common approach to avoid anything that would undermine the continuation of the talks as defined above;
*Committed to the continuation of the talks and called on the two presidents to meet to review progress as soon as possible;
* Called on the international community to continue to facilitate the talks, including providing the two sides with external experts on legal, economic and security matters;
*Agreed to share experience on working more effectively with the international community on the use of development and humanitarian assistance for the people of both sides and called for the international community to increase that assistance;
*Agreed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, extremism and serious crimes;
*Agreed to cooperate in the fight against piracy at sea and on land, maritime crime, illegal fishing and toxic dumping; and
*Reiterated their support for ending the Transition in Somalia.

Foreign Secretary Welcomes Historic Talks Between Somaliland and Transitional Federal Government of Somalia

Targeted News Service [Washington, D.C] 22 June 2012.

The government of England's British Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued the following news:

Foreign Secretary William Hague: "I congratulate the Somali Transitional Federal Government and Somaliland representatives on agreeing the Chevening House Declaration yesterday."

Representatives of Somaliland and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia met at Chevening House on 20-21 June. The purpose of the talks, the first of their kind, was to establish a framework for future substantive talks. At the request of both parties the meeting was facilitated by the UK government, along with the EU and Norway.

Following the meeting the Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

"I congratulate the Somali Transitional Federal Government and Somaliland representatives on agreeing the Chevening House Declaration yesterday. We hope this will be a landmark in the process of clarifying their future relations and achieving peace, security and stability in the region. I congratulate both sides on their willingness to continue the talks and to cooperate on areas of common interest. I am pleased that the UK, along with Norway and the EU, was able to build on commitments at the London and Istanbul Conferences on Somalia to support dialogue by facilitating these talks. Britain will work with international partners to support their efforts as they continue this important and historic dialogue."

Somalia: Puntland left out of Somaliland and TFG talks

GAROWE, Somalia Jun 23 2012 (Garowe Online) – The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Somaliland talks that wrapped up in England, excluded the Puntland government which criticized the secluded meeting, Garowe Online

The meetings held somewhere outside of London between TFG and Somaliland cabinet ministers wrapped up on Thursday, to the disapproval of the Puntland government after two ministers were excluded from the talks.

The Puntland government issued a letter to the EU and UK ambassadors who were overseeing the talks, requesting that the meetings be reconsidered because of the lack of Puntland representation at the conference.

The Puntland letter issued a day before the talks began in England, stated that if Puntland is left out of the meeting that it would not accept the outcome of the dialogue.

“Puntland will not accept the new development or outcome of the proposed meeting in London, which entails dialogue with Somaliland that excludes Puntland to satisfy separatists’ demands,” read the letter, signed by Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole.

The letter also discusses the fact that the meeting between south Somalia and Somaliland could help legitimize a false precedent of what Puntland calls “defunct colonial boundaries” which, “attempts to deny the reality on the ground.”

In the letter also talks about Somaliland and Puntland’s continuing dispute over territories and the need for dialogue between the two. For the past 10 years the two governments have contested over regions in northern Somalia which both governments lay claim to.

Puntland’s response to the proposed meetings fell on deaf ears as the meeting wrapped up in England on Thursday.

The outcomes of the meeting have not been released but officials did say they agreed to continue talks in the future.

Earlier this year Somaliland pulled out of talks with the TFG after President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed appointed two ministers from Puntland to join the discussions.

The meeting which was thought to be cancelled, convened after the two Puntland ministers were left out of the delegation.

Somaliland: Swedish Eye Investment Opportunities Jun 23, 2012

Possible investments by Swedish institutions and firms in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, minerals, oil, and livestock may be amongst the latest to build the economic base of the strategic country.

Below is an article published by Somaliland Sun

Public and private financing from Sweden is to be availed various sectors in the country.

This was revealed by the Vice president Hon Abdirahman Ismail Sayli, during a press briefing at his offices at the presidency in Hargeisa where he termed this development as the major outcome of his visit to Sweden.

The VP's delegation which was in Sweden courtesy of Swedish Somalilanders comprised of Planning minister Dr Saad Ali Shire, Deputy Public works Minister Hon Ali Abdi Saaiq, Presidential advisor on political affairs Mr. Abib Diriye Nuur and deputy Gabile mayor Ms Katra Haji Ismail Galayd.

According to VP Sayli the financing promises were made during meetings with official's in-charge of the African desk in the country's ministry of foreign affairs, Swedish International Development Agency-SIDA, Legislators as well as the FORM SEAD Non-governmental organization.

The delegation also met and held discussions with Swedish Somalilanders as well as the Mayor of Stockholm Mr. Michael Toostan and a number of assorted Swedish investors. "During the diverse meetings we informed our hosts on prevalent political, economy, democratization and security, we also presented copies of the five years national development plan and Somaliland 2030 vision" said VP Sayli

He added that the Stockholm municipality discussions that centred on twining boroughs of the city with Somaliland cities ended in a positive note with the mayor promising to pursue the issue with members of the municipality.

As per the anticipated investments the VP said that this will be mostly in the areas of Agriculture, Fisheries, Minerals, Oil, Livestock among others, Said he, "After perusal of our 5 years NDP the Swedish investors showed an interest in the above areas due to their abundance and yet virgin development".

This achievements when availed will be a major scoop for the country in generals and specific to VP Sayli who has within a period of a fortnight has entered into several diplomatic and development agreements with not only the swedes but Djiboutian as well.

On the other hand, it is possible that that the covert hand of president Gelle of Djibouti is involved in the Swedish financing developments as he had promised to solicit foreign investment for Somaliland during the VPs visit to that neighbouring country.

The Gelle interest is said to emanate from the recent successful launching of the $17m Coca-Cola bottling plant at Jalelo village in the outskirts of Hargeisa. The plants launching ceremony saw a high level participation of a number of senior Cabinet ministers and business tycoons from Djibouti that elicited Rumours to the effect that president Gelle is a major shareholder in the plant.

The bottling plant in question which is a $17,000,000 investment by Coca-Cola and its local partner the Somaliland Beverage Industries-SBI that owns 100% local franchise was commissioned by Somaliland president H.E Ahmed Mahmoud Silanyo on 3rd June 2012. The bottling plant which has a production capacity of 18,000 crates of assorted high quality Soda's is the biggest foreign investment in the country to date and has already availed hundreds of both direct and indirect employment opportunities nationwide.

First Direct Somalia-Somaliland Talks End in London

Posted Thursday, June 21st, 2012.

Two days of the first-ever formal talks between Somalia and the breakaway region of Somaliland ended near London Thursday.

Both sides agreed that the talks should continue.

Somali Interior Minister Abdisamad Moalim Mohamud told VOA that both sides agreed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, piracy, illegal fishing, and dumping toxic wastes. He said they also agreed to avoid anything that will undermine the talks.

In his comments to VOA, Somaliland Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdillahi Omar said the two days of meetings were constructive. He said they created the framework for future talks on issues that matter to both sides.

Britain and the European Union organized the meetings as part of their efforts to help Somalia fight terrorism. Somalia is struggling to form a stable government while it fights off efforts from al-Shabab militants to turn Somalia into a conservative Islamic state.

Somaliland broke away from Somalia when the last firm Somali government fell in 1991. But no country or world body recognizes an independent Somaliland.

Somaliland future discussed in UK

BBC News. June 21, 2012.

Leaders from Somalia and Somaliland are holding their first formal discussions on the future of the self-proclaimed Somaliland republic.

It broke away in 1991 and wants to be a separate country - but it has not been internationally recognised.

Mogadishu wants the northern territory to be part of a single Somali state.

Since declaring independence, Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace in contrast to the rest of Somalia, which has been plagued by conflict.

Timing of talks

The talks are being held on Wednesday and Thursday in a secret location near London.

Britain, Norway and the European Union have said they want the two sides to negotiate a settlement.

Somaliland agreed to enter into the talks during a February meeting in London, when 40 global leaders met to tackle piracy, terrorism and political instability in Somalia.

But its administration says its priority is to remain separate from the rest of Somalia - and wants Mogadishu to recognise its independence.

Analysts have questioned the timing of the talks - the mandate of Somalia's transitional government expires in August when it is due to hand over to an elected president.

Somaliland unilaterally declared independence 21 years ago after the overthrow of Somali military dictator Siad Barre.

It is relatively stable and holds regular elections, which have seen peaceful transfers of power.

Somalia-Somaliland Talks Begin Outside London Posted Wednesday, June 20th, 2012.

Representatives from the Somali Transitional Government and the breakaway region of Somaliland began two days of talks outside London Wednesday on a wide range of issues, including the future of the self-declared republic.

Ten officials — five from each side — are taking part in the closed-door discussions organized by Britain and the European Union. The two sides agreed to meet during an international conference on Somalia's future in London in February.

During the conference, world leaders pledged new help to tackle terrorism and piracy in the troubled East African country, but insisted that Somalia's government must push ahead with forming a stable government.

Reports say that if an agreement is reached, a meeting between Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and his Somaliland counterpart, Ahmed Siilanyo, will take place sometime next week in Dubai.

Somalia has endured two decades of civil war and poverty since the fall of its last stable government in 1991. More recently, it has struggled to deal with a devastating famine, as well as pirates and al-Shabab, a militant group seen as a threat to regional security.

Somaliland broke away from the rest of Somalia after the fall of the central government in Mogadishu. No country or international body has recognized it as an independent nation.

The de-facto government, which includes elected lawmakers, independent judiciary and three official parties, has maintained relative stability and peace in the region.

Somaliland and Ethiopia to boost travel

Posted by Mamo Gebrehiwot on Jun 15th, 2012.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Ethiopian Airlines will introduce direct flights from Addis Ababa to the Somaliland seaport town Berbera from July 1, 2012, this was confirmed by Hargeisa.

Somaliland aviation minister Mohamud Hashi Abdi said the Ethiopian national carrier will fly to Berbera seven-times daily.

He stated that he has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Office of Ethiopia’s civil aviation authority and the Ethiopian Airlines on Thursday while in Addis Ababa.

Mr. Abdi said the Ethiopian carrier, who halted its services to the capital Hargeisa in 2008 due to security issues, has reviewed its concerns and was satisfied with its findings. He pointed out that surveillance equipment were installed and the airport in Berbera has been upgraded recently.

He added that Ethiopian will resume its flights to Hargeisa once upgrade work is completed making it its 43 international destination in Africa.

The aviation minister also pointed out that the launching of Ethiopian Airline’s direct flight to Berbera will strengthen the relationship between Somaliland and Addis Ababa. The minister hopes the route will enhance trade between the two brotherly countries.

Along with increasing the level of convenience for those travelling to Somaliland, Somalis will also be able to take advantage of the Addis Ababa hub airport for flights through to North America, Europe and the Middle East.

The airline will operate three morning and four afternoon flights using its Bombardier Q400 aircraft.

While in the Ethiopian capital, Mr. Abdi also held high-level talks with senior government officials.


Talks on future of Somaliland open in London 20 June

BBC Monitoring Newsfile [London] 20 June 2012. website in Somali 20 Jun 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

A meeting between the Somali transitional government and the Somaliland administration is expected to open in London.

During the two-day meeting, the two sides will discuss the future of Somaliland which is seeking independence from the rest of Somalia.

The British government wants the two sides to wilfully discuss their issues and convince each other of the end results, which is either Somaliland reuniting with Somalia or the transitional government agreeing to its independence.

The Somaliland foreign affairs minister, Muhammad Abdullahi Umar, said their priority is their independence while the interior minister in the transitional government, Abdisamad Ma'alin, who is leading the delegation from Mogadishu, is hopeful that everything will end in agreement.

The meeting, which starts today, is expected to conclude on Thursday 21 June.

Somalis welcome talks between transitional government, Somaliland

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 20 June 2012. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 20 Jun 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

A number of Somalis have welcomed the talks between the Transitional Federal Government [TFG] and the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in London.

[Government] officials, traders, peacemakers and other members of Somali society welcomed the talks between the two sides.

Some of these people, interviewed by Radio Shabeelle in Mogadishu, said Somalia cannot be divided and that there is need for a unity, adding that all Somalis are brothers.

They said the past should be forgotten and that the two sides should hold talks to avoid division.

Meeting between transitional government and Somaliland officials opened in London today [20 June].

Credit: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 20 Jun 12

Somaliland talks set to start in secret UK location

20 June 2012.

Leaders from Somalia and Somaliland are due to start the first ever formal discussions on the future of the self-proclaimed Somaliland republic.

It broke away in 1991 and wants to be a separate country - but it has not been internationally recognised.

Mogadishu wants the northern territory to be part of a single Somali state.

Since declaring independence, Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace in contrast to the rest of Somalia, which has been plagued by conflict.

Timing of talks

The talks are to be held over Wednesday and Thursday in a secret location near London.

Britain, Norway and the European Union have said they want the two sides to negotiate a settlement.

Somaliland agreed to enter into the talks during a February meeting in London, when 40 global leaders met to tackle piracy, terrorism and political instability in Somalia.

But its administration says its priority is to remain separate from the rest of Somalia - and wants Mogadishu to recognise its independence.

Analysts have questioned the timing of the talks - the mandate of Somalia's transitional government expires in August when it is due to hand over to an elected president.

Somaliland unilaterally declared independence 21 years ago after the overthrow of Somali military dictator Siad Barre.

It is relatively stable and holds regular elections, which have seen peaceful transfers of power.

Somalia: Somaliland keen on independence at London conference

20 Jun 20, 2012 -

LONDON, England Jun 20 2012 (Garowe Online) – Officials from Somaliland and the southern Somali government met in London to discuss the future of Somalia and Somaliland, Garowe Online reports.

Officials from the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and the breakaway region of Somaliland began talks in an undisclosed location in London. The Somaliland Somalia meeting was an issue agreed on at the London conference earlier this year.

According to the final communiqué from the London conference held in February, this conference was organized to open up talks between the two governments to clarify their future relations.

For twenty odd years, Somaliland’s stance has been to gain independence from Somalia. Despite talks between the two governments Somaliland officials maintain that they are seeking independence.

Speaking to the Somaliland media in Hargeisa Foreign Minister Dr. Mohamed Abdullahi Omar assured that Somaliland would not renounce its bid for independence.

“We should maintain our dignity as an independent nation, deserving of international respect. Our sovereignty is non-negotiable,” Dr Omar said.

The issue of independence will likely cause an interesting debate over whether or not the TFG is willing to recognize Somaliland as sovereign nation.

The TFG have kept an open mind approach to the conference but political analysts say the lack of a solid position on Somaliland’s independence, could result in a failed conference.

Somaliland pulled out of the talks last month when TFG President, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed appointed two ministers from Puntland state to attend the conference. After protest from the Somaliland government the Puntland ministers did not attend the conference in London.

Somaliland and Puntland have hotly contested regions in northern Somalia which both lay claim to.

Somalia: Qatar Charity organizes recreational events for 500 orphans in Somaliland

Report—Qatar Charity. 18 Jun 2012

Qatar Charity has organized a series of educational, sports and entertainment events for 500 sponsored orphans in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

The events were organized by QC’s Somalia office and included running, races and football.

“These events come in the context of QC’s efforts to provide better humanitarian assistance to orphans; sponsoring them is not enough, we need to be providing these children with recreational activities and sports in an attempt to incorporate them into the community,” said Jassim Abdullah Al Jassim, Director of Social Welfare at QC.

The events were opened with a speech by Mohammed Hussian Omar, program director for QC’s Somalia office, and were attended by other QC officials, as well as a number of key community figures, caregivers and officials from local associations, who helped supervise the orphans along with mothers and grandparents of the children.

A number of educational lectures were also carried out; providing the orphans’ mothers with guidance on caring for their children.

The activities are part of QC’s current strategy and direction for the educational care of orphans and the annual plan for the Somalia office for 2012.

QC Somalia plans to repeat this kind of event on a regular basis in order to ensure that their 5,000 sponsored orphans, teachers, preachers, disables, students and members of poor families are encouraged to become active members of their communities.

QC Somalia also offers orphans help with the costs of study and training programs.

Somaliland’s Press Harassed, Disappointed

– By Tom Rhodes/CPJ East Africa Consultant

Abdiweli Farah and Mohamed Abdi Jama, chief editors of Ogaal and Waheen, respectively, say the government has not lived up to its promises. (CPJ/Tom Rhodes)

“I’m free but I don’t feel free,” said Mohamed Abdi Urad, chief editor of Yool, a critical weekly published in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland. Mohamed had just been released on May 22 after a week in detention at Hargeisa Central Police Station. His crime? “I have no idea,” he said. Mohamed had attempted to cover a deadly skirmish between civilians and a military unit over a land dispute in the eastern part of the capital, Hargeisa. “The Interior Minister just saw me walking towards the scene and ordered his men to arrest me,” he said. A few days later, police released Mohamed unconditionally and without charge.

Arbitrary arrests and other forms of intimidation have become the order of the day for Somaliland’s press. Although they had hopes for greater media freedom under the leadership of President Ahmed Mohamoud Silyano, who was elected in June 2010, conditions have deteriorated under his government to the worst levels since Somaliland declared itself an independent republic in 1991, local journalists told me.

“Many journalists wore blindfolds when Silyano came to power,” said BBC reporter Jamal Abdi. Most media supported Silyano’s election bid, having grown tired of former President Dahir Riyale, who had delayed elections for three years and whose final years were mired in corruption, local journalists said. “We were all desperate for change,” said Abdiweli Farah, chief editor of independent weekly Ogaal. “We also remember what they said during the election campaigns–that they would push to allow more independence in the media, improve freedom of expression, etc.–but things only got worse.”

This year marks the heaviest crackdown that Somaliland’s fledgling independent press has experienced, according to Mohamed Rashid, secretary-general of the Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA). Authorities have arrested and temporarily detained nearly 60 journalists so far this year, all without charge, according to SOLJA and CPJ research. The worst incident in terms of number occurred in January, after police arbitrarily shuttered the independent broadcaster Horn Cable TV and arrested 22 journalists shortly afterwards for protesting the closure.

“We were covering the president’s annual address to parliament and in the conclusion of the speech our station was somehow called ‘enemies of the state. We were all surprised,” said Horn Cable’s owner and director, Farhan Ali Ahmed. Six hours after the president’s speech, police raided Horn Cable’s two offices and closed the station for two days without explanation. Some journalists in custody who protested the closure were beaten, according to SOLJA’s Rashid and international news reports. “After that incident it became evident to us that arrests can happen any time under the new ruling party. But we are still doing our regular reporting despite the risks,” Farhan said.

Many local journalists do not blame the ruling “Kulmiye” (Peace and Unity) party as a whole but individuals within the government who target the press with impunity. “The previous government followed the constitution to a degree–they would not arrest without a warrant, for instance,” Farhan said. “But this government has some uneducated members who do not think of the consequences of their actions and cannot accept criticism.” Whether unknowingly or otherwise, many government officials ignore their own laws and detain critical journalists, says the director of the Somaliland Lawyers Association, Mohamed Said Hersi.

“Even the governor of Hargeisa along with elders was detained for over a month without charge despite a 48-hour detention limit by Somaliland law,” Mohamed said. A SOLJA investigation discovered that no courtroom in Somaliland except for those based in the capital Hargeisa even had a copy of Somaliland’s 2004 media law. “Thus journalists are automatically arrested under the penal code, ignoring the press law completely,” said executive SOLJA member and BBC reporter Barkhad Kaariye.

In the restive border town Las Anod, tension between separatist movements has led to further suppression of the press. In this disputed region between Somaliland and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, residents claim different affiliations–with Somaliland, Puntland, and even a self-declared separatist state of Khatumo, according to local reports. Reporting on the succession movements can lead to imprisonment, with at least eight journalists arrested in Las Anod since April, according to CPJ research. “It is a very remote region where unfortunately the governor does whatever he wants,” said Deputy Parliament Speaker Baashe M. Farah, who also comes from the disputed region.

Many local journalists concede that the government crackdown on the press is partly rooted in the unprofessional practices of the media. Websites in particular, local journalists told me, are prone to professional lapses since many are launched and managed by one individual. “The media is often very new, inexperienced and unprofessional–especially in politically sensitive areas such as Las Anod and Borama,” Presidential Spokesman Abdullahi Mohamed said. Journalists often report on government corruption issues with no sources to support their claims and their stories are designed to sell newspapers rather than uncover genuine malpractice, the deputy speaker added. “It’s a Somali tradition.” Farah said. “The public wants dirt on ministers–they will look at the headlines and if there is no dirt to be read, they won’t buy the publication.

So it behooves the press to act like a tabloid.” Chief Editor Mohamed Abdi Jama of the critical weekly Waheen concedes that unprofessional standards have partly triggered the animosity between Somaliland’s government and press. “But what is worse–a press that makes mistakes and does not follow best practices or a government that does not follow its own rules?” he said.

While many journalists admit a lack of professionalism is a problem, government officials also concede that they need to change their approach towards the press. “Really, all these attacks against the press is not good for any journalist and it is not good for the country,” said recently appointed Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf. “At the same time, journalists need to understand their trade–what is an insult and what is libelous and what not.”

The information minister also told CPJ that the government plans to enact a long-awaited broadcast law to allow private radio broadcasters. “I already have around six or seven applicants for a radio license on my desk and have discussed the matter with the speaker,” he said. In 2002, Somaliland issued a ministerial decree banning all private radio stations, allowing only state-run Radio Hargeisa to operate. The station covers only a 40 kilometer (25 mile) range and often airs pro-government, poor quality coverage, local journalists said. “There is a reason the government allows television but not radio,” Horn Cable TV owner Farhan said. “TV does not have the same reach radio stations would have–they fear a vernacular radio.

We would be the first to apply if they allowed private radio stations.” Ahmed Kijandhe, head of a parliamentary sub-committee that will review the bill, told CPJ the committee plans to hold a consultative meeting with the press over the broadcast bill and table it in June. The lack of private radio stations explains why Somaliland has several newspapers and a high number of television stations compared with Somalia and Puntland. There are about 10 newspapers, three government-owned, and four TV broadcasters.

Despite the arrests and harassment against the independent press this year, some local journalists are encouraged. “The public is waking up, they want us to continue,” said Mohamed Abdi Jama. “These days the public asks us to write stories to push the government. At Gebbele River, for instance, citizens wanted sand placed on the road to stop flooding. So citizens called us up and asked us to write something to get a government reaction.” And while private radio stations are still not allowed, a plethora of news websites has emerged, despite low Internet penetration rates. “I am convinced websites will make the biggest change to Somaliland society,” said Information Minister Yusuf.

By Tom Rhodes/CPJ East Africa Consultant

Somaliland appoints new committee for talks with federal government

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 14 June 2012.

Somaliland administration has said it has appointed new members for committee that are expected to start talks with the delegation representing the Somali government. Talks between the two administrations are expected to take place in London, United Kingdom.

The appointment of this new committee was announced by the Somaliland minister for information who is also the administration's spokesman, Abdi Yusuf Ducale. The minister said Somaliland's decision to secede from the rest of Somalia is not negotiable and that talks with the Somali government would be on future cooperation.

The five member committee appointed for the talks comprise of 1.Muhammad Abdullahi Umar, Somaliland's minister for foreign affairs.
2.Bashe Muhammad Farah, First Deputy Speaker of the Somaliland Parliament.
3.Faysal Ali Warabe, Chairman of Somaliland's UCID party.
4.Hersi Hashi Ali, minister for presidency.
5.Mahmud Ahmad Barre, Minister for Labour, Public Affairs.

There will be a series of other meetings but this one will be a preliminary one, said the Somaliland minister of information who added that the issue of Somaliland's secession was not negotiable and would not be a subject of discussion with committee representing Somali government.

Credit: Jowhar website, Mogadishu, in Somali 0000 14 Jun 12

Jowhar website, Mogadishu, in Somali 0000 14 Jun 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Somalia: Somaliland Judge Shot After Presiding in Corruption Case

11 June 2012.

Hargeisa — The head of the judicial court of Hargeisa was shot early Monday morning by armed gunmen in the Somaliland capital, Radio Garowe reports.

Abdirashid Duraan was rushed to the hospital after men armed with pistols shot the judge as he left a mosque after performing morning prayers in the neighborhood of New Hargeisa.

According to local sources, the gunmen opened fire at the judge but amazingly the judge only suffered a gun-wound to the cheek and doctors say he is in good condition.

Authorities in Hargeisa say that the police have leads in the investigation but could not comment as the investigation is ongoing.

Last Sunday judge Duraan presided over a case in which 3 government officials were convicted of embezzlement and fraud. A former adviser to President Silanyo was sentenced to 1 year with the other two officials sentenced to 3 years.

After the officials were convicted they protested that the case was biased by the Somaliland government who they claimed influenced the court to convict the officials.

Somaliland a relatively peaceful breakaway region has experienced a spark in violence recently.

A land dispute between civilians and the Somaliland government which was dismissed by the Somaliland judicial system led to clashes between an armed group and Somaliland forces in Hargeisa which led to the deaths of 5 people last month. Subsequently 17 men were arrested and sentenced to death following military tribunal.

UN Special Ambassador to Somalia Augustine Mahiga, expressed concern that the trial of the 17 civilians was "conducted by a military, in contradiction of both applicable local statutes and customary norms of standards of international law.

FGM is halting female rights advancements in Somaliland

7th June 2012 Female Genital Mutilation

Young girls in Tanzania who have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) are not even aware that their sexual organs are not as nature intended, reports the Tanzania Daily News.

Anti-FGM campaign launched in UK. 31st May 2012

Campaigners in the UK have launched a new initiative which aims to protect young girls thought to be at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is not only abhorrent but it is a denial of rights.

This is the opinion of Somaliland's Minister of Religion and Endowments Hon Sheikh Khalil Abdilahi, who voiced his concerns at an FGM awareness-raising workshop held by the National Organization of Women, reports the Somaliland Sun.

He stressed that future generations of women should be protected from the practice and said "FGM is not an Islamic practice".

Also speaking at the event was Deputy Health Minister Hon Nimo Hussein Qawdan, who stated that women can only take their proper place in the country's society once the destructive practice of FGM is completely eradicated.

"If girls were given same educational opportunities [as] boys there would have been more women ministers in the country" she added.

In Africa an estimated 92 million girls or more have undergone FGM, states the World Health Organization.

Posted by Martine Ward. World Congress 2012

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO)
FIGO Secretariat, FIGO House, Suite 3 - Waterloo Court, 10 Theed Street, London, SE1 8ST, UK

Displaced people in Somaliland get permanent homes [audio]

Djibouti leader, visiting Somaliland vice-president discuss bilateral ties BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 06 June 2012. ADI news agency website, Djibouti, in French 4 Jun 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Introduced yesterday to President Ismail Omar Guelleh by Prime Minister Dileita Mohamed Dileita, the vice-president of Somaliland, Mr Abdirahman Abdillahi Ismail, on a working visit to the Republic of Djibouti since last Thursday [31 May], held a long discussion with the president during a half hour meeting.

The senior official from Somaliland, who was accompanied by several ministers in his government, discussed with the Djibouti head of state ways and means of strengthening relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the fisheries sector.

The Somaliland vice president also expressed to the chief of the state his satisfaction with the smooth running of visits of the different Djibouti infrastructures, especially the Haramous telecommunications station and the Doraleh oil terminal.

On a three-day working mission in our country, the vice-president of Somaliland, Mr Abdirahman Abdillahi Ismail, last Saturday, visited the Haramous telecommunications station and the Port of Doraleh.

It will be recalled that the Somaliland vice-president, who arrived in Djibouti following an invitation from the prime minister, Mr Dileita Mohamed Dileita, is accompanied by a high-level delegation including the ministers of information, aviation, posts and telecommunications and two parliamentarians.

Mr Abdirahman Abdillahi Ismail first visited the Haramous telecommunications station in the company of the Djibouti minister of culture and communication, responsible for posts and telecommunications, spokesman for the government, Mr Abdi Houssein Ahmed.

Greeted on arrival by the Djibouti-Telecom Director, surrounded by his main collaborators, they were able to attend a presentation on the functioning of the telecommunications station.

The vice-president of Somaliland and his delegation then went to the oil terminal where they visited the available infrastructures.

It should be noted finally that the purpose of the working mission of Mr Abdirahman Abdillahi Ismail is to strengthen bilateral ties of cooperation in the various sectors, particularly that of telecommunications.

Credit: ADI news agency website, Djibouti, in French 4 Jun 12

Somalia's Puntland administration accuses Somaliland of attacking its region

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 03 June 2012. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 3 Jun 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Somalia's Puntland semi-autonomous regional administration in northeastern Somalia has accused Somaliland administration to its west of attacking areas under Puntland administration. Speaking at a news conference in Garowe, Puntland Deputy Minister of Security Abdi Jamal Osman Muhammad said that Somaliland naval forces had illegally attacked ships on Laas-qoray coast, as he put it. He described the Somaliland attack as blatant.

Somaliland authorities have not commented on the accusation by Puntland administration.

Credit: Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 3 Jun 12

Somalia: Somaliland naval forces attack crew in Sanaag region

2 Jun 2, 2012 -

LASQORAY, Somalia 02 Jun 2012 (Garowe Online) - Somaliland naval forces attacked a crew of engineers assessing the port of Lasqoray a town under Puntland authority, Radio Garowe reports.

According to Deputy Minister of Security Abdijamal Osman Mohamed Somaliland naval forces attacked a crew of engineers who were aboard a ship escorted by Puntland forces on Friday. The engineers were assessing the renovation of the port in the coastal town of Lasqoray. Puntland forces in Lasqoray fended off the attack, there were no casualties.

Minister Mohamed who held a press conference in Garowe said, that the blatant attack by Somaliland would not be tolerated by Puntland, adding that the attack was one against the advancement of Puntland and Somalia at this critical stage.

“This cowardly attack shows that the government in Somaliland wants to cause insecurity in Puntland and is opposing the progress of peace and reconciliation in Somalia,” said Minister Mohamed.

The Minister also gave a stark warning to Somaliland telling the government to stay away from the port of Lasqoray reminding the Somaliland government that the town of Lasqoray is under the authority of Puntland.

“We are asking our brothers of Somaliland to stay away from disrupting the port of Lasqoray which is under our jurisdiction and whose people support the Puntland government,” said Minister Mohamed.

The attack which did not stem any casualties has been regarded by the Puntland government as a blatant attack by the Somaliland government. Puntland has advised the Somaliland government to stop the reoccurring attacks on Puntland constituencies.

Innovative School Opening in Somaliland Building a Brighter Future.

By Selma Cook, 03 June 2012

On left, deputy minister of education in Somaliland, Kamal Sheikh-Omar, and on the right, the vice-chancellor of Amoud University in Borama. On January 21, MBK (Maryam bint Kamal) International School started with one brick being laid on rocky desert land in a small town in a valley on the Somali side of the Ethiopian Highlands.

With nothing but a clear vision, commitment and dogged perseverance, Khadija Laube and her husband, Kamal Sheikh-Omar, are making their dream become a reality.

Khadija Laube converted to Islam sixteen years ago on the Gold Coast, Queensland. Born in Australia but with family roots in Germany, Latvia, and Scotland, Khadija married Kamal Sheikh-Omar, originally from Borama, in 1996. Kamal works at Al-Taqwa College, Melbourne, as a teacher and Imam.

Khadija had visited Somalia in 2004 and in 2008 with her family and after noticing the sad situation of education there, and discussing the matter with her Canadian friend, she came up with the idea of opening a school in Borama.

They chose Borama because it is known to be a stable region and an educational hub; there are three universities there (including an Islamic university) and a number of schools.

Her husband, Kamal, liked the idea and she immediately set out making fliers in the hope of gaining support for the school and raising awareness about the issue of education in Somalia.

Her efforts have meant that people far and wide: in Canada, Sweden and Australia, are now supporting the project.

Thinking Out of the Dark Box

The school is now in the advanced stages of construction.

When people hear about Somalia, they are likely to think of all the negative images fed to them by the media; however, when considering a new venture it is vital that we keep in mind that every place has its nuances and every nation has its dream.

Somalis have always struggled for freedom and the situation in Somalia justifies the existence of such a school as MBK.

With decades of political turmoil, there is no current ‘system of education’ in place to guide and nurture the coming generation. However, despite being ruled by various types of governments for decades, the Somali people have always shown resiliency and have etched out a way to freedom as they are a people who are essentially Muslims and want Islam as their way of life.

However, in the midst of almost continuous struggle amidst tribal leaders and warlords and oppressive dictatorial rulers, education in Somalia has fallen apart. Although there are mostly Qur’anic schools, or madrasas, where the only subjects taught are Arabic and religion, there is a great need for Somalia to attach itself to basic quality education and take a holistic approach to teaching and raising the next generation.

In a contemporary national context of ‘if you have a gun, you have the power’, there is a need in Somalia, not only for stable government, but also for an enriched student population that has the know-how to lead the way to a better and brighter future.


In a mountainous, rocky desert valley in Somaliland, with patches of fertile farmland, lies Borama. There are not many sealed roads in the area, which is about 150 km from Hergaysa (three hours by car).

Borama lies on the Somaliland side of the Ethiopian Highlands surrounded by picturesque mountains that resemble those surrounding the holy city of Makkah. With an area that is quick to respond to the heavy downpours in the rainy season, Borama is home to approximately 300,000 people, mostly from the Gadabursi tribe, and there is some fertile land where people grow food staples. Although there are few flushing toilets and water must be boiled before drinking, there is also high speed WiFi and satellite television available for those who can afford it.

Somaliland is considered a semi-autonomous state seeking independence. Somali people are known to be ambitious and have initiative to develop themselves and their place.

Khadija observes, “They are a very clever people. They just need education and resources and skills. I am sure that if the Somali people have the necessary skills they will use them to build their country.”

Both Khadija and her husband are committed to officially open this school in January, 2013.

Somalia is considered, by people at home and abroad, as “a totally unique place”. It is even said that it could be the next Dubai because Somalis are brilliant at business and have massive potential as a people and a country.

The country is rich in resources including gold, oil, and gas and has international buyers knocking on its doors; however, the country has to be ready and able to use its resources so it will develop itself.

Khadija believes it is vital that students are taught and reinforced in the understanding that they must use their education to build their country; not just seek their own ends.

With greater stability in Somaliland than in other parts of the country, the school is well on the way. Without help and support from home (Islamic scholars and government officials) and abroad, such a school in Somaliland would never have been possible.

The land has been purchased for US$ 8000, construction, costing approximately US$ 100,000, is nearly finished and all that is left is the need to buy books, flooring, furniture, laptops for the students and other necessities for administration which is estimated to cost a further US$ 50,000.

Khadija notes, “At the school we promote holistic, well-balanced thinking, a healthy lifestyle, good character, and social etiquettes.” She adds, “When the students enter the school they will see beautiful gardens, Gazebos, tiles, and attractive design and the message we are sending them is that ‘my country can be like this!’”

Ambassadors for the Somali People

After travelling to Somalia a number of times to places including, Hargeisa in Somaliland, Jigjiga in Ethiopia, and Tog Wajela in Somaliland, in the past few years, Khadija notes that she has always been treated with respect.

“I admire the Somali people,” says Khadija, “I want the rest of the world to know their commitment and intelligence.

The school will be able to accommodate approximately 450 students, both male and female.

The school hopes to produce ambassadors for the Somali people; good role models who will help build the country; students with dignity and honour.” To attain this goal, it is vital that Islamic teachers have the necessary qualifications, persona, understanding and commitment. For this reason, the school will be looking at possible candidates from Sudan, Yemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Malaysian Islamic University.

The main language will be English but Quran, Arabic and Islamic studies are a vital part of the curriculum.

Every day the students will do at least two hours of Qur’anic studies, Arabic language studies and Islamic studies. The school also plans to offer students the choice of a third language; either Turkish or Malay, in the secondary stage. All teachers will be native speakers of their respective languages and each will contribute to the overall culture of the school. Khadija notes, “Building ties with Turkey and Malaysia is important. We want to foster relations between Somalia, Turkey and Malaysia. Students may have the opportunity to study abroad in these countries in the future.”

All the money raised so far has come from private donations and fund raising. Teaching couples are needed at the school that are willing to come and help fulfil the goals of this valuable institution.

With English the main language and being a native speaker a requirement, teachers from abroad are needed. Khadija says, “All our teachers must be well-qualified and once they come here, we will help them with accommodation, household help, and train them on the etiquettes and customs of the Somali people.”

The school is being constructed; one brick at a time.

Teachers at MBK International School will be well-paid as professionalism is of paramount importance.

They will receive the same amount as a university lecturer in the same region. “There are already students on the waiting list,” observes Khadija.

“Even Somalis from overseas want their children to attend.” With stability in Somaliland, many Somalis are returning to their country, hoping to help build a brighter future.

Selma Cook is a contributing writer to

Somalia: Somaliland officials convicted of embezzlement

HARGEISA, Somalia Jun 3 2012 (Garowe Online) – Three Somaliland officials and one businessman were sentenced to up to eight years in jail for embezzlement and theft, Radio Garowe reports.

The four officials were convicted to up to 8 years in a Somaliland jail on Sunday, after a court in Hargeisa found the officials guilty of stealing food aid.

The officials include Osman Saeed Jama, a close advisor to Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, who received a one year sentence for his part in the embezzlement.

The director of the aid organization which was supposed to distribute the food received eight years for his part. The governor of Hargeisa, Ahmed Omar Abdullahi and director of the Ministry of Relocation, Ahmed Elmi Barre were sentenced to three years.

The defendant’s lawyers said that they were going to file for an appeal after the courts decision Sunday afternoon.

The state’s prosecution expressed their satisfaction in the court’s sentencing of the officials. Hassan Ahmed Adan court prosecutor said that the officials already plead guilty to the charges brought against them and this was a simple sentencing by Somaliland court system.

The President of the north western breakaway region, Mr. Silanyo told media after the officials were apprehended earlier this year, that his government would not turn a blind eye to corruption.

SOMALIA: Hargeysa court senteces 7-years jail to four government officials for stealing aid food

By; Abdalle Ahmed. June 3rd, 2012.

Hargeysa (RBC) Hargeysa regional court in Somalia’s breakaway state of Somaliland has today sentenced seven years jail term to four former government officials including the former advisor of the vice president after the court convicted charges of stealing aid food, RBC Radio reports.

The court prosecutor Hassan Ahmed Aden who spoke to the media after today’s closed door court session said that the court found evidence showing the charges against the four former officials were right and that the regional court decided to announce the judgment.

“We have got all the necessary evidence and their defendants themselves have pleaded guilty so it is the court’s business to decide the trial.” Prosecutor Aden said.

The court verdict presented that the charges against the four former government officials were stealing of 2,500 bags of rice and 400 cartons of beans which were part of a 1,000-metric-ton food shipment donated by the government of Oman Sultanate to the people of Somaliland last year.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Saleh who is one of the lawyers of the defendants told reporters outside the court room that court’s verdict was unfair and that they will file an appeal very soon to prevent the trial.

“This is injustice rule we cannot accept. They brought no evidence, all what they [court] said were from the verdict’s own pocket… who can believe people like these.” Saleh added.

The four defendants who were arrested and sucked in March this year were Ahmed Omar Abdullahi who was the governor of Hargeisa, Ahmed Elmi Barre who was the director general of Somaliland’s rehabilitation ministry and Osman Sa’id, the special adviser for Somaliland vice president.

The trial of the four former government officials was delayed several times since they were arrested by the local police to interrogate for aid corruption.

Somalia's Puntland administration accuses rival Somaliland over instability

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 02 June 2012. Somali Puntlandpost website in Somali 2 Jun 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The [autonomous] Puntland government has strongly condemned [breakaway Republic of] Somaliland for creating problems in peaceful areas that fall under its [Puntland's] administration.

The Puntland deputy security minister, Abdi Jamal Usman Muhammad, told the media that Somaliland was creating disorder in the Sanaag Region after what he said was an attack on officials and experts who wanted to assess a new sea port that his administration wants to set up in Laas Qoray.

His comments came after officials who arrived in Laas Qoray yesterday to assess the site of a new port to be set up were attacked Somaliland's navy.

The Somaliland navy's attack was repelled after fierce resistance by Puntland's coast guards. [Passage omitted]

Credit: Somali Puntlandpost website in Somali 2 Jun 12

Somaliland: On The List To Receive Power From Ethiopia

An Ethiopian corporation will connect African states through the largest continent electric line installation project.

Below is an article published by Somaliland Press:

The Ethiopia Electric power Corporation (EEPCO) is on the point of embarking on an ambitious project that aims to connect East and South Africa countries on the basis of electric power transmission lines. According to Mihret Debebe, ECO of the corporation, Ethiopia will be at the center of this Eastern African electric highway project selling hydroelectric power to countries. The project, which kicks off by installing power transmission line to Kenya, will be by far the largest electric line transmission installation project in the continent.

“So far, only the border city of Moyale has been connected to the Ethiopian grid system,” said Mihret. However, thanks to the approval of the loan in the order of USD 1.3 billion by the World Bank and the African Development Bank this week, Ethiopia will sell electricity to more towns in Kenya. Mihiret noted that the design and study of the project has already been completed and it is ready to be floated for a bid. The two institutions reached at the decision to provide the loan after deliberating on the matter in Washington last week. Furthermore, Mihret noted that Somaliland is on the list to be the next Eastern African country to receive power from Ethiopia.

In a related story, the EEPCO announced that some 200 billion birr ($11.4b) is required within the next five years [2013-2018] to complete electric power expansion.

Mihret said that it is possible to get that amount of money for the expansion and related works as Ethiopia is becoming trustworthy regarding its massive activities in electric power investment. And this helps the corporation to access loans from different potential lenders. The electric power projects that are arguably the most expensive investments in the country has a budget of over than 42 billion birr ($2.4b) for the current [2012] fiscal year.

Mihiret said that some 21 years ago [1991], the electric power sector had only hundreds of millions of birr as annual budget which has currently reached hundreds of billions of birr. For the project that will be implemented in the next five years [2013-2018], all costs have been divided for each year and the draft budget is expected to be made official in the near future.

The required amount of the budget will mainly go to the construction of hydroelectric power plants, power transformation lines and for other electric power related infrastructures.

Somaliland chief remembers start of Queen's reign

BBC. 31 May 2012

Haji Abdi Hussein Yusuf sends the House of Elders' congratulations and felicitations to the Queen

Somaliland's chief of chiefs became a tribal leader 12 years before Queen Elizabeth II assumed the throne and he has clear memories of the day she was crowned.

"My name is Haji Abdi Hussein Yusuf also known as Haji Warabe. I am 115 years old. I don't know the exact year I was born, and I cannot read or write, but I know for sure that I am that age.

I remember the Queen's coronation extremely well. In fact, I remember the coronation of her father King George VI [in 1937]. My uncle attended the ceremony in London.

During the coronation of Queen Elizabeth there was a huge celebration in Hargeisa. The whole town was practically shut down and lots of congratulatory telegrams were sent.

I still remember that wonderful day. I have been to London twice but unfortunately I didn't meet the Queen on either occasion.

I first became a chief when Somaliland was a British protectorate. I worked closely with the British colonial officials, and was selected by them as the chief of chiefs. I worked very well with them for 20 years until independence in 1960.

George VI's and Elizabeth II's coronations were days of celebration I liked the British a lot, mainly because they brought peace to our land. When they first arrived, the clans were at each other's throats. We were killing and fighting each other, and the British put a stop to it.

To be honest, things didn't change much for me after independence. My chiefly powers stayed pretty much the same, as both the British and the Somali politicians wanted the same thing from me - advice.

I was born outside Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, in the area where the airport now is. At the time it wasn't a town at all - it was wilderness.

I have been a nomad since the day I was born and I have been a chief for more than 70 years, since 1940 to be precise.

I am now the chief of chiefs, the elder of elders. The most senior traditional leader in the whole of Somaliland. My nickname is Warabe which means hyena.

Nomadic life

When I was four years old, I started looking after baby sheep and goats. When I was a bit older, my job was to herd young camels into their pens. Then I graduated to herding the mature camels, the most magnificent of all Somali beasts.

Even though I am now too old to actively herd my livestock, I still consider myself first and foremost a nomad, and I visit my herds whenever I can.

Nomadic life has changed dramatically over the decades. It used to be just us, our animals and the wilderness.

Now villages, roads and vehicles get in the way of everything. People are ruining the environment by cutting down all the trees for charcoal.

I will never retire as elder of the elders. I want to continue for as long as I can - for as long as my brain functions properly. People continue to respect me and I respect them.

Please will you pass our felicitations, congratulations and heartfelt blessings to her majesty, in particular from the House of Elders here in Somaliland."

Haji Abdi Hussein Yusuf was interviewed by BBC Somalia analyst Mary Harper. It aired on BBC World Service's Newshour programme as part of series marking Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. The series from 26 May to 1 June featured seven people from across the world who are over 60 and still working in their professions.

Somalia: Take a Holiday in Somaliland - Journey to the State That Isn't

By Magnus Taylor, 28 May 2012.

Michela Wrong once wrote that you can tell a lot about an African country by the way they issue, or refuse you a visa. This remains true, but as African leaders see the benefits of liberalisation (in a variety of different guises), heralding a stream of hot money flowing in to the continent, there are many other measures of 'doing business' that are equally revealing.

Commerce in Africa now seems inextricably linked with the mobile phone, so seeing how easy it is to get yourself up and running with a SIM card can be a good measure of a place.

In Addis Ababa I had to take a photocopy of my passport and 2 other headshots to a long queue in a small office, and several days later the stupid thing still didn't work. I didn't go back. In Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, I arrived at my hotel, enquired about the SIM, whereupon the receptionist flicked a new one across the counter, expertly inserted it into my phone, and immediately topped me up with $5 worth of credit via text message. It all took 2 minutes.

Whilst Ethiopia is no economic laggard - as evidenced by the increasingly terrible traffic in the capital and ugly edge-of-town industrial expansion - it is the freewheeling capitalism in the Horn of Africa's non-state state that really grabs the attention. Somali society has traditionally been strongly oriented towards trade and despite decades of chronic insecurity in the South, these networks remain. The Somali diaspora is well-known internationally, particularly since the civil war forced many of them out into prominent communities in Europe, North America and the Middle East. Somalia is now the second biggest importer of goods from Dubai, with wooden dhows risking pirates whilst plying trade routes across the Arabian Sea to dock at Berbera, Bosaso or Mogadishu down the Somali coast.

Positioned on the upper haunch of the Somali dog-leg the Republic of Somaliland looks initially unpromising. It is mainly dry and rocky, there are few paved roads, and the population is small and generally dispersed. Only in the capital city do you really see the potential of the place. Downtown Hargeisa is booming, and the centre of the boom is Dahabshiil - the country, and region's major money transfer company. I met up with the CEO Abdirashid Duale who'd just flown in from Dubai. He took me to the centre of operations where I observed 2 remittance transfers being made, both over $300, one from London and the other Melbourne.

Deeper in to the offices the more serious money is moved around. Stacks of dollar bills, generally preferred to the rather weak Somaliland shilling, are processed for local businessmen and international NGOs - both the United Nations Development Programme and World Food Programme have outfits in Hargeisa, and Dahabshiil is the preferred means of making financial transfers. The company's success, whilst extremely impressive, tells you something about the limitations of the Somaliland economy - it is substantially based around bringing in wealth created externally.

Whilst the economy may be on the up, Somaliland still feels extremely isolated. An employee of a big international NGO who I met in the lobby of my hotel, The Mansoor, looked at me with astonishment when I said I'd come to Hargeisa for fun. "The biggest danger here," he said "is dying of boredom." This might have been typical ex-pat world weariness, but it underlined the fact that Somaliland has successfully insulated itself from the more newsworthy goings on in Southern Somalia.

I'm told there are probably Al-Shabaab sleeper cells in Hargeisa, but the militant islamist group hasn't attempted an attack since 2008 when it bombed the presidential palace, the Ethiopian consulate and UNDP offices. Security at the Ethiopian consulate is still tight, with mobile phones confiscated at the front desk. This causes a blazing row between my guide, who considered himself above such precautions, and the rather jumpy soldier at the gate.

I'm interested to know what actual problems are attached to international non-recognition as a state. The answer I get most regularly is associated with the processes of doing business - the lack of any international banks (hence the success of Dahabshiil), the difficulty of obtaining insurance - I'm pretty sure my own travel insurance would have been invalid if I'd needed it there. I didn't bother to ask. But there seemed very little likelihood of anything actually going missing in the country. The Somaliland population seemed almost pathologically honest - money is stored in great blocks on the street and transported in sacks.

A more concrete example is provided by Africa Confidential, which recently reported that the Hong Kong oil company PetroTrans is likely to pull out of investing in the port of Berbera, having been unable to obtain insurance for the Liquified Natural Gas plant it was to build. The plant was to link up gas fields in Ethiopia's Ogaden region with export facilities on the coast, and will now see Somaliland lose out to its tiny, but strategically important neighbour Djibouti.

When I drove it, the road east out of Addis Ababa towards the coast is busy with trucks, but the traffic thins out when you pass the turn off North towards Djibouti, and the Southern fork heads towards Dire Dawa, and beyond that the capital of the Somali region, Jijiga. The road is good however, but there isn't much using it, and we skim along it at a steady 100km per hour passing bright green fields of khat, which look like tea plantations, and provide a mild stimulant when chewed that makes the heat of the afternoon bearable for populations from Northern Kenya to Yemen.

Good travelling conditions continue right up to the Ethiopian border, but then stop abruptly for the 90km onwards to Hargeisa which is a dirt track through the Western haud region. This is Somaliland's most fertile land, excellent for agriculture and pastoral grazing, but bad for unmade roads, which become thick with mud after heavy rain. Ethiopia's continued poor relations with Eritrea make port facilities in neighbouring countries of crucial importance. So it feels like Somaliland is missing out.

In Hargeisa the main streets are buzzing, shops sell goods imported mainly from the Middle East and money changers sit behind massive blocks of Shillings (6,500 to the dollar.) But leave the capital and you begin to see the place's real challenges. How do you grow an economy in a small, isolated patch of semi-desert? The livestock trade, sheep and goats exported to Saudi Arabia (particularly during the hajj) is a big deal. This forms a nice historical continuity, as the Protectorate of British Somaliland was invented in order to safeguard the export of meat to the strategically more important military base across the water at Aden. Berbera is the main export hub, but whilst the port may be doing a roaring trade (described far better than I can by the BBC's Mary Harper in this audio piece), the town is unprepossessing and frighteningly hot.

I swam in the luke-warm Indian ocean and kicked a football around with some Somali boys and their father who have come down to the coast for a brief beach holiday. Fully-clothed Somali women wade into the gently breaking surf, their colourful dresses becoming soaked as the men splash around in shorts. Somaliland is still quite a conservative society, and whilst I couldn't hope to penetrate below the surface during my short trip, a friend casually mentioned that Hargeisa was "much more fun" before the civil war. He suggested that when the great exodus took place in the face of bombardment from Siyad Barre's Air Force in the late 1980s, the people turned to their religion. Many left the country altogether, never to return.

An entrepreneurial hotel owner has built the Berbera Mansoor with beach houses facing out to sea, but it looks pretty empty to me and not a patch on the Hargeisa version where the lobby is full of youthful NGO types on laptops and Somali men watching Premier League football or Al Jazeera. I saw no other casual visitors, and in truth, my motivation for a Somaliland mini-break wasn't with relaxation central to my plans. Genuine tourist activities are scarce, although the cave paintings at Las Geel should be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but instead are down an unmade side road and suffer from the corrosive droppings of the swifts that nest in cracks in the cave walls.

I wonder whether Somaliland's successes have been made possible by the fact that it has stayed, substantially, off the radar. Richard Dowden predicts that if it was ever formally granted independence then it would most likely precipitate a new war with the South. However, whilst many Southern Somalis still believe in the principle of a united, or a Greater Somalia, it seems unlikely that the South would be in a genuine position to resist. Internationally recognised independence seems something of a totemic desire for Somalilanders - everyone I spoke to in Hargeisa passionately believed in it. A trio of trainee anaesthetists told me that they were desperate to continue their studies outside of Somaliland so that they could come back as doctors and help build the country, but their qualifications were not recognised internationally. They all came from reasonably wealthy Somali families who could afford to send them abroad, but nowhere would take them. Such misfortune was immediately attributed to non-recognition, but I thought that it might have more to do with the quality of the institution - existing on a shoe-string budget, with few qualified staff - rather than recognition per se.

Back in London I attend a briefing with the Somaliland Foreign Minister Dr Mohamed Omar - a bespectacled, determined man fiercely proud of "our extraordinary achievement" in building Somaliland up from the rubble of the civil war. Foreign governments are clearly starting to take Somaliland seriously as a political, if not a national, entity. Liaison offices for countries, including the UK and Turkey, are springing up in the capital and President Silanyo attended the London Conference on Somalia in his own right as head of 'state.' But there are worries - the security situation remains uncertain, and whilst Mogadishu may have gained from the expulsion of Al-Shabaab, there is a danger that the movement may splinter, and concentrate its operations on easier targets like Hargeisa, which unlike Mogadishu, is not defended by thousands of African Union troops.

Somaliland's foreign policy is about "much more than just international recognition" says Dr Omar, and I tend to agree. Recognition is merely a necessary development in order to ensure people take the country seriously. Visiting the place might lull you into a false sense of security that everything is calm, but this is still a small player in a bad neighbourhood. Somalilanders cast their eyes South with nervousness, whilst desperately trying to persuade investors that everything is fine.

Magnus Taylor is managing editor, African Arguments Online.

Job Title: Somalia/Somaliland Country Manager

26 May 2012. Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Management responsibility: Conflict and Governance Project Manager, Somalia Adviser, Advocacy and Communications Adviser, Non-State Actors (NSA) Project Field Coordinator, NSA project coordinator

Budget responsibility: Programme budget of approx. £800,000 per annum

Reporting to: Head of Kenya and Horn of Africa programme

Key Relationships: Regional Funding Manager, Operations team (Nairobi & London) Communications team (London), Somali programme partners


Contract Duration: Open. Salary range: £36,671 - £43,169 gross per year + benefits

Description of Saferworld and Somalia/Somaliland programme:

Saferworld is an independent non-governmental organisation that works to prevent and reduce violent conflict and promote cooperative approaches to security. We work with civil society, governments and international organisations to encourage and support effective policies and practices through advocacy, research and policy development, and through supporting the actions of others.

Saferworld has been working in Africa since 1997, with a primary focus upon East Africa and the Horn region. We have well-established programmes in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia/Somaliland and S/Sudan. In addition, Saferworld supports regional and international conflict prevention and security processes. Saferworld headquarters are in London, with offices in Nairobi, Kampala and Juba. The Somalia programme is managed from Saferworld’s Nairobi office with one member of staff working in the field.

The main focus of the Somalia/Somaliland programme is currently the Somali Non-State Actors project, a process of strengthening the participation of Somali Non-State Actors in decision-making on peace, security and development through supporting the development and capacity-building of Non-State Actor platforms in the three Somali regions, which Saferworld has been involved in for the past seven years.

Saferworld has also recently initiated the development of a model for carrying out conflict and governance mapping and analysis in Somalia which aims to increase the conflict sensitivity among external actors.

The relevant strategic directions of the Somali/Somaliland programme are:

• To strengthen the NSA platforms in South-Central Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland capacity to influence policy processes on peacebuilding and statebuilding, democratisation and aid effectiveness and public services;

• To position Saferworld as a key provider of conflict and governance analysis in Somalia to international and Somali stakeholders with the aim of influencing strategies and programmes in a conflict sensitive direction.

Job Purpose:

The main focus of the Country Manager is to lead the implementation of the programme, managing relationships with programme partners and outreach to Somali stake-holders. The post holder will also be responsible for managing and monitoring programme delivery against objectives, managing and monitoring programme expenditure, and reporting to donors.

Key areas of responsibility:

1: Strategic development and programme design
2: Programme management, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
3: People and organisational management
4: Effective management of programme finances.
5: Build and maintain effective relationships in support of Saferworld’s work in Somalia.

Detailed Actions:

1: Strategic development and programme design

• Elaborate the strategy for building the capacities of the three NSA platforms and translate into a programme design with clear objectives and indicators (incl. frameworks for systematic monitoring)
• Develop country strategy papers for Somalia and other internal planning and reporting documents in line with Saferworld’s organisational processes.
• Pursue opportunities to develop work in Somalia in line with other areas of Saferworld’s expertise, e.g. security sector reform, arms control and conflict-sensitive development.
• Contribute to the development and implementation of a regional strategy in the Horn of Africa.

2: Programme management, implementation, analysis, monitoring and evaluaton

• Project manage the Non-State Actor (NSA) programme, including overseeing its key advocacy components as well as developing frameworks for planning, monitoring and evaluating.
• In conjunction with the NSA project team, plan and organise Saferworld-led activities within the NSA project.
• Maintain good relations with the three NSA platforms and other Somali partners.

3: People and organisational management

• Manage the performance and professional development of direct line reports on the basis of Saferworld’s performance management system.

• Implement staff security management procedures appropriate to Saferworld’s work in Somalia, to act as Security Focal Point and ensure the physical welfare and well-being of project staff..

4: Ensure effective management of project finances

• Undertake timely and accurate project budgeting and forecasting and manage project budgets to ensure optimum expenditure of funds and ensure donor requirements regarding reporting are met.
• Ensure that programme staff and partners comply with internal accounting and financial management procedures.
• Maintain donor relationships and ensure reporting requirements are met.

5: Build and maintain effective relationships

• Srengthen contacts and coordination with other international actors (governmental and NGO) engaged in Somalia and develop and implement a strategy to ensure meaningful participation of the Somali NSA platforms in relevant policy dialogue processes
• Raise the profile of Saferworld’s work in Somalia by managing the production and dissemination of appropriate information materials (e.g. publications), and ensure effective communication of project activities, results and lessons within Saferworld
• Represent Saferworld in external meetings, and promote lessons learnt from the Somali NSA programme.
• Identify policy development opportunities at the international level

• A Master’s degree in peace/conflict studies, development, international relations (or equivalent professional experience);
• A minimum of five years’ experience working on peace-building or development with governments and/or non-governmental organisations;
• Experience of working in complex and politically-sensitive contexts, and excellent political judgement;
• Experience of working with civil society, and of developing and implementing strategies for civil society capacity-building;
• Experience of supporting civil society/NSA engagement with state and international actors would be an advantage;
• Experience and skills in project management, including programme planning and monitoring;
• Experience and skills in people-management, including performance management;
• Experience and skills in financial management, including developing and monitoring budgets and cash-flows;
• Excellent written and spoken English, including experience of writing funding proposals and narrative reports;
• Knowledge of: security sector development, small arms control and/or conflict-sensitive development
• Ability to work in a non-partisan manner, sensitive to cultural and ethnic differences;
• A team player: able to demonstrate a constructive, cooperative and problem-solving approach;
• Willingness to travel to the Somali regions (security permitting)


• Probation: There will be a probationary period of three months.
• Salary range: £36,671 - £43,169 gross per year + benefits
• Holidays: 28 days/year in addition to agreed Kenyan public holidays
• Hours: Standard working week is 37.5 hours a week. However, the demands of the job are likely to be such that a willingness to work longer hours, as required, will be necessary.
• Travel: Approximately 3 months/year.


Please send full CV and covering letter, detailing how you meet the selection criteria to Please use subject heading: Ref: Som PM

Deadline for applications: 11th June 2012

Interviews: It is anticipated that interviews will be held week of the 18th June in Nairobi.

We regret that only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Lawrence Solomon: Capitalist haven

May 25, 2012

British traditions boost the de facto state of Somaliland

Second in a series. Next: Cutting Greater Somalia down to size

It’s the only African country that doesn’t rely on foreign aid from the world’s rich governments. It’s a Muslim country in Africa that has had a functioning democracy for two decades. It’s an oasis of relative peace in one of the most vicious regions of the world, with a growing free-market economy, low inflation and a currency that has been appreciating against the U.S. dollar.

This anomaly of a country, Somaliland, is unrecognized by any other country in the world, even though the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa touts it as a “success story” and the World Bank itself doesn’t formally recognize it. Somaliland’s story is all the more astonishing given that it is officially part of Somalia, a failed state best known for its piracy at sea and al-Shabaab terrorists on land, and given that it declared independence in 1991 after surviving a brutal repression by Somalia’s Marxist dictator that dispersed much of its population to the U.K., Canada and other safe havens.

While much of Somalia descended into an ungovernable anarchy over the past two decades, Somaliland miraculously found its feet. The miracle lay largely in the country’s good fortune to have been in British hands over most of the previous century, and in its good fortune to be deprived of foreign aid. Without foreign aid lavished on leaders in the central government and with a decentralized British colonial parliament, Somaliland’s local governments exercised meaningful rule, citizens were accustomed to local rule, and citizens had no choice but to be self-­reliant.

In the rest of Somalia, where foreign aid propped up a corrupt central government without benefiting the populace at large, self-reliance meant banditry on the roads and piracy at sea. In foreign-aid-bereft Somaliland, such lawlessness would have killed the country’s best hope for survival — exports from the deep-sea port of Berbera that the British left behind, coupled with roads able to carry to port local goods as well as goods from neighbouring landlocked Ethiopia.

The local clan-based governments calculated they would earn less by plundering the few merchants willing to risk the trip to port than by ensuring safe passage along the road system and sharing in growing port revenues. It was an enlightened business decision. Livestock exports of goats, sheep, cattle and camels, which account for some 60% of Somaliland’s total exports and GDP, has soared, almost tripling in the last five years alone, while Ethiopia — the dominant economy in the region — increasingly ships through Somaliland. The once-underutilized port has already undergone a major upgrade and, to keep up with the needs of its burgeoning trade, Somaliland has announced it will privatize the port.

Because Somaliland is unrecognized, credit has been hard to come by, the country has largely needed to rely on cash transactions, and foreign investment has been all but non-existent. Until now.

Although most of the world’s governments, fearful of encouraging other secessionist movements, are in solidarity with the central government of Somalia against Somaliland, the world’s capitalists are taking a second look. Somaliland may not have the official imprimatur of the United Nations or the backing of a major central bank, some investors ­reason, but it looks a lot more secure than a Greece, an Egypt, or many other countries blessed by officialdom.

This week, Coca-Cola opened a US$15-million bottling plant in Somaliland, the country’s first major industrial investment since independence. Others, including Toyota and foreign airlines, have announced plans to invest. And oil companies, too, are expressing interest — prior to the civil war, several oil majors were exploring in Somaliland.

But the biggest breakthrough for Somaliland may come from a sympathetic Britain, its former colonial master and present home to the world’s largest Somali Diaspora community. In a 21st-century twist on its colonial trading corporations such as the Hudson’s Bay Co. and the East India Co., the British parliament this year established the Somaliland Development Corp. as an end-run around countries that deny Somaliland the recognition, and investment, it deserves.

“The point of the corporation is to facilitate international investment in Somaliland and economic interaction for the benefit of the Somaliland people,” explained British MP Alun Michael in the House of Parliament. “As an unrecognized state, it is isolated. Despite its extraordinary achievements in stability and democracy, international donors cannot deal directly with its government, and foreign investors face uncertainty about whether contracts — the basis of secure business — can be enforced. The point of the corporation is to establish an entity to circumvent that problem.”

The Somaliland Development Corp. will be, in effect, an outsourced Somaliland ministry that will allow foreign investors to help Somaliland develop under the laws of the U.K. Fittingly, the U.K. is helping to advance the development of its former colony into a viable democratic state. The rest of what is official Somalia — a region that was Italian Somaliland, including the autonomous Puntland region, has had no such luck, not least because it lacked the British tradition of democracy. But the Somalis in the former Italian Somaliland also have a path to peace, as we shall see next week.

Financial Post. Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and a founder of Probe International.

For some historical background on the Somaliland success story, click here. For economic and trade data from the Somaliland Ministry of National Planning and Development.

Coca Cola opens bottling plant in Somaliland

HARGEISA (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co. has opened a $15 million bottling plant in Somalia's breakaway enclave of Somaliland, part of a plan to win more African consumers by investing $12 billion in the continent by 2020, the company said on Wednesday.

The production plant is the first major industrial investment for the enclave, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991, but has not been recognised internationally.

"This investment will create an estimated 135 direct jobs and 2,500 indirect jobs, and will contribute to a healthy distribution and retail sector in Somaliland. Our commitment to the continent of Africa remains enduring and unshakable," said Nathan Kalumbu, regional president for the company.

Coca-Cola carried out the investment with local partner Somaliland Beverage Industries, based on a franchising agreement, it said.

Ahmed Guelleh, the chairman of Somaliland Beverage, said the plant would also help the breakaway enclave to build a manufacturing capacity.

Other commercial activities in Somaliland that have caught the eye of foreign firms include oil and gas exploration as well as construction.

Somalia: Coca-Cola Bottling Plant Opens in Somaliland

23 May 2012.

Hargeisa City — The Coca-Cola Company has opened a new, state-of-the-art Coca-Cola bottling plant in Hargeisa City, Somaliland.

The modern beverage production plant is the first industrial production plant of its kind in Somaliland.

Nathan Kalumbu, President of Central, East and West Africa for The Coca-Cola Company, described the significance of the investment by the global brand during the inauguration ceremony.

"We are delighted about this new opportunity to refresh our consumers with high quality beverage choices. This investment will create an estimated 135 direct jobs and 2,500 indirect jobs, and will contribute to a healthy distribution and retail sector in Somaliland. Our commitment to the continent of Africa remains enduring and unshakable."

The US$15 million investment by The Coca-Cola Company and its partner, Somaliland Beverage Industries, is part of the Coca-Cola System's commitment to invest US$12 Billion in the continent by 2020, starting in 2010.

The Chairman of Somaliland Beverage Industries, Ahmed Osman Guelleh expressed optimism and confidence about the investment the System had made in the region.

"Bringing the production of Coca-Cola brands to Somaliland not only brings the much needed entrepreneurial and employment opportunities, but builds local capability through access to global best practice and manufacturing standards, including ISO and environmental and safety standards."

The Coca-Cola bottling plant investment in Somaliland is based on a 100pc franchising agreement.

The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands.

Led by Coca-Cola, the world's most valuable brand, the company's portfolio features 15 billion dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle.

Somalia: Livestock industry benefits from improved food security, provides affordable energy

Report—UN Development Programme.

Sheikh, Somaliland, 21 May 2012 – The livestock industry is the economic backbone of Somaliland, providing livelihoods for approximately 75 percent of the population. A new project, initiated by UNDP and Terra Nuova, aims to both strengthen this industry through improving food safety, and to harness its potential by piloting the production of biogas, using animal waste to provide energy to the residents of Sheikh. The funding for the project is being provided by the Government of Japan.

The joint venture, which was officially launched in Sheikh today by UNDP Somalia Deputy Country Director Marie Dimond and Mr. Yoichiro Yamada, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Kenya, will be conducted in partnership with the Sheikh Technical Veterinary School (STVS) and Terra Nuova. The school was opened in 2005 to ensure quality control of the Somali livestock industry, and trains its students on international trade rules and regulations and how to apply these when exporting livestock.

Food security is not only about ensuring food availability and accessibility, but also quality and safety. This means that food, whatever its origin, should provide the required nutrients without harming its consumers or the recipient environment. To ensure food safety, food analysis, requiring a testing laboratory, is essential. This new project will support STVS to maintain its food hygiene laboratory in order to monitor local food production, exports and relevant imported foods. As a result, this project will contribute to enhanced food safety among Somali consumers as well as consumers of Somali livestock products in importing countries.

In addition, the project will support STVS to convert biodegradable livestock waste into an alternative source of energy that can be used for cooking and electricity. As a first step, UNDP will assist STVS to undertake a feasibility study for the production of bio-gas in rural and urban settings.

Lack of access to sustainable energy services is considered as the single main cause of deforestation for firewood and charcoal. These factors call for the exploration of alternative sources of energy – such as biogas – that are eco-friendly and cost-effective to meet the needs of local populations. Increased use of biogas has the potential to stall further land degradation, contribute to long-term environmental protection, mitigate climate change at the local level and increase livelihood opportunities.

Women community members will be direct beneficiaries of the biogas, as their exposure to the harmful emissions from fuel wood and charcoal will be minimised. The provision of biogas will also reduce the burden on household income for purchasing the fuel wood and charcoal at high prices from the market.

The project will initially be one year in duration and is funded by the Government of Japan, along with the other donors to STVS, such as the European Commission, the Royal Danish Embassy, and shortly USAID. STVS has two prongs – the school with its 2 3-year accredited residential Diploma courses in Livestock Health Sciences and in Livestock Product Development and Entrepreneurship, and the Reference Centre, which conducts out participatory research and information sharing with livestock stakeholders from the region. STVS is academically mentored by Makerere University of Uganda to which is affiliated and is in the process of becoming an IGAD regional institution. Please visit:

Why not recognize independent Somaliland?

Commentary: Northern territory has achieved democracy and peace but not international recognition.

Ali Mohamed. May 22, 2012 06:19

British-based Somalilanders wave the flag of the internationally unrecognized self-declared republic of Somaliland as they hold a pro-independence rally outside Downing street in London on February 22, 2012. The protesters were calling for recognition of Somaliland, currently a region of Somalia in the eyes of the international community, as a soverign state following the region's unilateral declaration of independence over two decades ago. (Ben Stansall /AFP/Getty Images)

LEWIS CENTER, Ohio — Twenty-one years ago this month, Somaliland was reborn when the tyrannical regime of Siad Barre collapsed.

Since then, the people of Somaliland, which is the northern part of Somalia, have established a country built on the principles of freedom and democracy. But they still await recognition by the world community including the United States.

Somaliland first won its independence from the British Empire on June 26, 1960, an event soon followed by recognition as a sovereign entity by the United Nations and 35 countries, the US among them.

But then, a week later, Somaliland voluntarily entered a union with what was at the time known as Italian Somaliland, to the south, creating modern-day Somalia. This was in response to the dreams of nationalists who wanted to unite the lands in which Somalis lived in the Horn of Africa region.

The hope that union would lead the Somalis into a free and democratic nation never materialized. Instead, the brutal military regime of Siad Barre took power from a nascent civilian government in 1969. Barre was a tyrant, described by some as in the mold of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who held power for 21 years through military force, money from foreign donors and by manipulating the region's clan system.

Barre declared the majority of northern Somalis enemies of the state. They had legitimate grievances about his misrule, and the way in which the union between former British Somaliland and former Italian Somaliland was handled in 1960. Consequently, a political disenfranchisement and ruthless military campaign was unleashed against the civilian population. An insurrection followed and eventually, in 1991, the military regime collapsed.

Since then Somalia has been mired in chaos and violence. But Somaliland has succeeded in establishing a functioning government, with a constitution, defined borders and a flag. It is governed along democratic lines with pluralistic political institutions. In May 2001, its independence was supported in a referendum by more than 90 percent of the population. Two presidential elections took place with a peaceful transfer of power; one in 2003 and another in 2010. This summer, nine political parties are competing in local elections.

Despite its achievements, no country in the world has yet recognized Somaliland’s independence. The US State Department and the African Union each cling to the fiction that Somaliland is part of the failed state of Somalia. It would have made sense to award Somaliland the diplomatic recognition it deserves. Its brief history of freedom and democracy stand in stark contrast to the terrorism, reign of warlords and piracy that is rife in Somalia, where US President Barack Obama and the UN are expending vast resources to fund African troops, which are propping up the corrupt transitional Somali government.

The argument against Somaliland’s independence comes from the African Union (AU), which has been tough on Somaliland for creating an independent democratic state. There is understandable paranoia about accepting new states with shifting borders inherited from colonial powers in Africa. The AU’s argument to deny Somaliland sovereignty is not valid, however, because it has had defined colonial borders that were established at the time of independence.

The irony is that US State Department diplomats, for political reasons, endorsed the position of the African Union in order to appease other African leaders and to get their military support for America’s counter-terrorism efforts in Somalia.

For the last two decades, the international community has tried through outside military intervention and massive aid to reconstitute Somalia. These interventions have ended in catastrophic failure.

The United Nations is also arguing that recognizing Somaliland might hinder the UN-sponsored peace and reconciliation efforts for Somalia. Among these efforts is the US-backed “road map” for Somalia, which projects forming a new government at the end of the “transition” in mid-August. Most Somalis have no faith in the “road map” process, which seeks to reinforce and legitimize the nominal Somali government even though Somalia remains ravaged by violence and self-interested neighbors.

The world regards Somalia as a basket case, but Somaliland is not and deserves better. Recognizing independent Somaliland would have positive consequences, not just for Somalia, but also for the whole Horn of Africa region. Indeed, Somaliland is contributing the international community's efforts to combat piracy that plagues the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

Keeping the status quo in Somalia would only prolong the human suffering there and spread radicalism and chaos that could engulf the region. In this scenario, diplomatic recognition for Somaliland would be unjustly denied and would further delay opportunity for investment, trade and economic growth.

Obama should do the right thing and fulfill the aspirations of 3.5 million people of Somaliland to have an independent and sovereign state.

Ali Mohamed is co-founder of the Horn of Africa Freedom Foundation. It is a grassroots organization, located in Lewis Center, Ohio, that advocates for the advancement of freedom and democratic values for the indigenous people of the Horn of Africa.

Safe water remains scarce in Somalia, contributing to disease and malnutrition

© UNICEF Somalia/2012/Abdulle A child washes his hand in clean water provided by a UNICEF-supported programme in Mogadishu, Somalia. Safe water is still difficult to come by in Somalia.

By Abdul-Kadir Abdulle and Eva Gilliam

World Water Day, commemorated each year on 22 March, focuses attention on the importance of freshwater to sustainable development. World Water Day 2012 emphasizes the importance of water to global food security.

MOGADISHU, Somalia, 21 April 2012 – A line of women and children curves around the wall of a defunct hospital, now home to an Outpatient Therapeutic Programme (OTP) in the Hodan District of Mogadishu.

At the entrance to the centre, which is run by UNICEF partner and local NGO SAACID , a water tap, basin and soap sit invitingly. These are life-saving resources for the families queuing outside the centre, many of whom have been displaced by violence or food insecurity.

Lack of water devastated Somalia last year. It was the worst drought in over two decades, leading to famine in several areas of the south. While the situation has improved, 2.34 million people still require life-saving assistance.

Photo: UNICEF Somalia/2012/Abdulle. Women and children queue outside an outpatient therapeutic clinic in Mogadishu. The centre is run by local NGO SAACID, with support from UNICEF.

The water-nutrition connection

Safe water is still one of the most difficult commodities to come by in Somalia, despite the above-average rains during the last rainy season. The scarcity of this essential resource continues to challenge the health of all Somalis. Women and children are hit particularly hard, especially in areas experiencing continued food insecurity and conflict.

Falastin lives with her three young children in a displacement camp in the Tarabuunka area . She recently arrived from Jowhar, Middle Shabelle , having been displaced by fighting in the area. “We were fearful for our lives,” she said. “Everyone was saying there would be fighting and bombardments.”

This is the fourth time she has visited this OTP to follow-up on the health of her malnourished child. The centre receives between 350 and 400 children per day, and has a staff of 20. They are supported by various organizations, including UNICEF, focusing on basic nutritional and medical care. Their work includes raising awareness about the importance of hand-washing and other good hygiene practices to protect against illness and malnutrition.

“The link between bad hygiene behaviour and illness, including malnutrition, is very clear,” explained Nancy Balfour, UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Somalia. “Attempts to achieve household food security have failed in many areas because people, especially children under five, are repeatedly sick with diarrhoea and cannot absorb the food they are given.”

Photo: A woman watches while her child is evaluated for malnutrition at an Outpatient Therapeutic Programme in Mogadishu, Somalia. The centre sees hundreds of children each day.

Education is key

For SAACID, getting the word out about hygiene means getting the word out about water. Safe water makes all the difference, but it is not easy to access in makeshift camps housing tens of thousands of people.

Once patients are discharged from UNICEF-supported OTP facilities, they should receive a package of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) items including buckets, soap and water purification tabs. “The WASH items we provide include soap and water containers,” said Abdullahi Hassan Sahal, SAACID coordinator for Hodan District. “We also demonstrate to them how to properly wash their hands.”

A SAACID outreach team also visits the camps to educate families about household water purification and safe storage, teaching them how to properly wash their hands and maintain good hygiene.

“As well as WASH facilities, the education is key,” explained Ms. Balfour. “That’s why we support awareness activities on the use of safe water and hygiene for patients in the nutrition centre, including lessons on water treatment techniques and hygiene practices in the household.”

The connection is clear: With fresh, safe water comes health for children, adults and entire communities.

Somalia: Amb Mahiga Calls for 'Transparent' Inquiry to Hargeisa Land Dispute

20 May 2012,

Hargeisa, Somalia — UN Special Representative to Somalia Augustine Mahiga has asked for a "transparent" investigation to a land dispute in Somaliland's capital Hargeisa, Radio Garowe reports.

Ambassador Mahiga released a statement on Saturday that expressed concern into the hasty trial of 17 men who are accused of attacking Somaliland forces in Hargeisa after a land dispute turned deadly.

At least 5 people were killed, 3 of them being Somaliland forces and the other two civilians, scores more were injured in the gun-battle.

Ambassador Mahiga said he was concerned that the trial of the 17 civilians was "conducted by a military, in contradiction of both applicable local statutes and customary norms of standards of international law."

Earlier this week the 17 men were sentenced to death by firing squad and another 5 were given life sentences.

Leading up to the attack on Tuesday local sources in Hargeisa say the alleged owners of the disputed land, took the case to court but their appeal was turned down by the Somaliland courts.

According to media in Hargeisa the dispute turned violent when Somaliland forces tried to forcefully disperse a crowd protesting their eviction.

According to sources, after the 17 men all under 25 years of age were sentenced by military tribunal there was a protest demanding the group of men be released, however special Somaliland forces broke up the protest shortly after it began.

Ambassador Mahiga requested an immediate transfer of the case to a criminal court and hopes that the Somaliland authorities can guarantee a fair trial.

Somaliland a breakaway region in north western Somalia has enjoyed relative stability and last Tuesday's gun-battle in Hargeisa was the bloodiest since the multiple bombings that killed more than 20 in 2008.

Somalia/Somaliland: Permanent homes for 300 displaced persons

Astrid Sehl (21.05.2012)

A Japanese-funded NRC/UNHCR shelter project including 50 permanent shelters was today handed over to the community in Aden Suleiman (aka Aadan Salleebaan) settlement for internally displaced people in Burao, Somaliland.

A total of 50 permanent shelters, which will benefit 300 people, were constructed by members of the community with the training, technical assistance and supervision of NRC. The Somaliland Government was also instrumental in the success of the project.

NRC’s regional representative Hassan Khaire together with residents that was once displaced by war in Somalia but today were celebrating the opening of new permanent homes. Photo: NRC/Astrid Sehl

Each home consists of two rooms and outdoor space totalling 144 square metres. NRC provided the design, tools, materials and training for the locally recruited labourers, many from the displaced communities and others from the host community. Shelters provided for internally displaced people in Somalia are often made from corrugated iron sheeting (CGI). Therefore it was a significant improvement for the displaced people in Burao to be able to move into proper brick structures with lockable doors, thereby providing safety and security for IDPs, especially women, children and other vulnerable groups including the elderly and people with disabilities.

– Today Deka Ahmed Mahamad (20) could finally move into her own home for the first time in her life. NRC’s regional representative Hassan Khaire and community mobilizer Asia Addami Muse were pleased to celebrate with Deka and other residents. Photo: NRC/Astrid Sehl.

The project is funded by the Japanese government through UNHCR. The Somaliland Government provided sand, water, labourers and security for the materials on site. It is the first time that the Somaliland authorities have provided direct financial support to a shelter project while the local Burao authorities donated the land where every family has received their own title deeds. ECHO funded the latrine construction in the settlement.

The Aden Suleiman settlement is home to over 4,300 people, while the overall Togheer region hosts over 26,000 people formally displaced by conflict. This project represents only the beginning of what is hoped to be more permanent shelter projects across Somaliland. In general, it is very difficult to access land for the displaced in Somalia. Also, IDPs are often forced to pay fees to private landlords, with the risk of being evicted to new settlements without any service provision.

“These shelters will change the lives of those receiving them,” said Ayaki Ito, UNHCR Deputy Representative for Somalia.

“NRC is very pleased with the result of the first 50 shelters, made possible through a collaborative effort. We hope to continue the strong cooperation with the Government of Somaliland and the authorities of Burao to support more displaced people with permanent solutions,” said Hassan Khaire, NRC Regional Director.

"The cooperation of the Burao local authorities in the success of this project is really encouraging because it means more security in life for the displaced people. Japan will continue to provide as much humanitarian assistance as we can,” said Mr. Yoichiro Yamada, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Japan.

UN Voucher Programme: More Fresh Food To Diets In Somaliland

21 May 2012, Press Release: UN News.

Thousands of people in Somaliland, in northern Somalia, are getting more fresh meat in their diet as a result of an innovative UN initiative that provides parents with vouchers to help them afford nutritious food from local traders, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

“Using vouchers gives people greater choice about what food to eat, and gives WFP a powerful new tool for providing food assistance to the most vulnerable,” WFP’s Country Director for Somalia, Stefano Porretti, said in a news release today. “At the same time, vouchers help the local economy by supporting local small and medium-scale producers and retailers.”

Under the programme, people receive $80 in vouchers each month, and can use them to buy a variety of food including rice, cooking oil and fresh camel and goat meat. So far, around 15,000 people in north-western Somaliland are being given the vouchers as an alternative to food rations, and WFP plans to expand the initiative to other areas later this year.

WFP has reached about 1.5 million people with assistance in those areas of Somalia to which it has had access since the start of the east African country’s food crisis last year. Long-awaited rains and a good harvest mean that famine has receded, but gains made in food security and nutrition are fragile.

The first phase of the voucher project is linked to WFP’s nutrition programme for young children in Burao, Somaliland. In the past, the family of each child being treated for moderate malnutrition received a monthly ration of food from WFP, but now, with the WFP-provided set of vouchers, families can buy food from local retailers.

WFP is partnering with the Danish Refugee Council to distribute the vouchers, in coordination with Medair, a non-governmental organisation which manages the nutrition programme in Burao.

In the first phase of the voucher project, 13 local traders registered to accept the vouchers, including those who sell fresh camel and goat meat, which are staples of the diet for most people in the largely pastoralist region and can play a vital role in improving nutritional status.

Eventually, WFP plans to expand the voucher approach to relief, recovery and resilience activities throughout the country where market conditions allow. WFP will distribute vouchers seasonally, during harvest periods when food is available in markets, while at other times of the year, the agency will continue providing direct food rations during the lean seasons when supplies are scarcer.

Somaliland and Somalia: U.S. Dual Track Policy


Ambassador David Shinn US Ambassador David Shinn was asked to address the US dual track policy towards Somalia and Somaliland on May 18, 2012 at the Somaliland Conference at the Hilton Hotel near Dulles International Airport in Virginia. While he expressed support for all that Somaliland has accomplished, he emphasized that the U.S. dual track policy does not portend diplomatic recognition.

Over the years, I have addressed several Somaliland conferences. It is always a pleasure. On this occasion, I have been asked to speak on the U.S. dual track policy towards Somalia and Somaliland. While you would receive a more authoritative presentation on this subject from someone who represents the U.S. Government, which I no longer do, I will do my best to address this important subject. Perhaps one of your other speakers will say something about the development implications of the U.S. dual track policy. What Is the Dual Track Policy?

Let's be sure we understand what the United States means by the dual track policy towards Somalia and Somaliland. In October 2010, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson announced the dual track approach. Track one involved continuing support for the Djibouti Peace Process, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), its National Security Forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Track two recognized that there were large pockets of stability in Somalia that merited greater engagement. These areas included Somaliland, Puntland and regional and local anti-al-Shabaab groups throughout south/centralSomalia. Track two included additional support for Somali civil society groups and clan leaders.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Don Yamamoto testified before Congress in mid-2011 that track one remained critical to political and security progress in Mogadishu and ultimately the rest of Somalia. He said the United States would continue to support the TFG?s political progress in the coming year. He added that the United States expected the TFG would bring into the political process Puntland, Galmudug, Ahlu Sunna wal Jama?a (ASWJ) and other Somali stake holders.

Concerning track two, Yamamoto said Washington had expanded its diplomatic outreach with regional authorities such as those in Puntland, Galmudug and other districts. In addition, ithad increased travel by U.S. officials to Somaliland and Puntland, which reinforced the U.S. commitment “to Somalia, the Somali people, and the Dual Track policy.”

Under track one, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) emphasized collaboration with the TFG and Transitional Federal Parliament on transition issues such as the drafting of the constitution and development of an electoral framework for elections leading to a permanent government. It also funded quick impact projects such as street lighting, market rehabilitation and government capacity building in Mogadishu and TFG-held areas of Somalia.

Under track two, USAID launched a Partnership for Economic Growth in Hargeisa that included rehabilitation of community infrastructure and technical assistance to improve livestock and agriculture. In Somaliland, Puntland, Galmudug and some emerging administrations,USAID began to identify projects in the areas of education, maternal health, democratization, elections support, local governance capacity building and youth engagement.

Following agreement in September 2011 by representatives of the TFG, Puntland, Galmudug and ASWJ on the “Road Map for Ending the Transition in Somalia,” the United States endorsed that effort. It continues to be supportive of the Road Map.Somali Reactions to the Dual Track Policy Somalis do not have a unified position on the composition of their future government.

Consequently, it should come as no surprise that Somalis have reacted in very different ways to Washington?s dual track policy. Generally speaking, the TFG and most Somalis from south/central Somalia have been critical of the policy. They see any support for entities other than the TFG or some future national government as a reduction in central authority.

Somalis from Somaliland, Puntland and other local jurisdictions have been more supportive of the dual-track policy but they are by no means universally in favor of it. It is instructive to look at a few Somali reactions. Abukar Arman, the TFG Special Envoy to the United States, commented earlier this year that while domestic factors keep Somalia divided, the balkanization policies of the United States and Ethiopia have exacerbated the problem.

He argued that the U.S. dual track policy “provides political legitimacy and financial incentives to any political actors so long as they stand opposed to al-Shabaab, even if those actors are on a path that makes the reconstitution of the Somali state more difficult. As it is there are now several semi-autonomous mini-states that are given some degree of support and legitimacy by the policies of non-Somali actors.”

More senior TFG officials have been less critical, at least publicly, of the dual track policy.Writing for Foreign Policy in Focus, Abdinur Mohamud stated late last year:

“Instead of empowering the legitimately and internationally recognized government of Somalia to establish the necessary political, economic, military and social institutions and infrastructure of governance, the United States adopted what it called a dual track policy?. While assisting the central administration, the United States was also planting the seeds to encourage the sprouting of quasi-independent local and regional administrations within and outside the government.”

Somali analyst Afyare Abdi Elmi is quoted in Kenya?s The Nation that “the dual track policy only pro vides a new label for the old (and failed) Bush Administration?s approach. It inadvertently strengthens clan divisions, undermines inclusive and democratic trends and most importantly, creates a conducive environment for the return of organized chaos or warlordism in the country.”

In even stronger words, Somali freelance writer Said Liban commented earlier this year that the U.S. dual track policy “has produced conceivably unintentional disaster, resulting in an explosion of mini-states that have undermined even the relatively peaceful areas in Somaliland and Puntland.”

He argued that the communique from the London Conference earlier this year constitutes the same policy because “it focuses on an all-out war against Islamist militants, and invites new regional or local tribal warlords to join in the campaign.”

Soon after the United States announced the dual track policy, the government of Puntland said “it welcomes, supports and endorses the new U.S. Dual Track Policy which is based on realities on the ground in Somalia.” The Puntland government also called for a conference to speed up national reconciliation. Puntland authorities have generally remained supportive of the dual track policy.Speaking in London in November 2010, Somaliland President Ahmed Silanyo said:

“We also hope to secure stronger ties with individual donors, not least the United States, which recently announced its dual track policy that will see direct aid and cooperation with Somaliland increased. I very much welcome this as a positive step in keeping the realities on the ground.”

Somaliland officials subsequently became more cautious in their public comments on the U.S. dual track policy. Status of the Dual Track Policy. The director of the State Department?s Office of East African Affairs, Deborah Malac, commented in January 2012 at a conference on Somalia at Ohio State University:

“We would argue that there is demonstrated progress and success for the dual-track policy. But as we do with any policy . . .we look at the situation on the ground and make determinations on when and whether we need to make adjustments to that policy. It is going to be a painstaking process to move things forward in a positive direction.”

Speaking at a press briefing in London following the February conference on Somalia,Secretary of State Clinton emphasized the need to create by August 2012 a new Somali parliament and constitution that take into account the interests of all Somalis— not from one region, one clan, one sub-clan, but all Somalis.

She also argued for a “unified Somalia” that takes into account the legitimate constituencies that exist throughout the country.The United States has never expressed support for an independent Somaliland. It has effectively left that decision to the African Union.

An independent Somaliland was not part of the dual track policy when it was announced and it never subsequently became part of the policy. On the other hand, Somaliland had every reason to expect more political interaction with and increased development assistance from the United States as a consequence of the dual track policy based on U.S. appreciation of and support for Somaliland?s political and economic progress.

I have argued for the past decade that the United States should devote more development resources to Somaliland and Puntland. In the case of Somaliland, the security situation permitting, I have also urged the United States to open a small liaison office in Hargeisa to monitor an expanded development program. While there have been more frequent visits by U.S.officials, they still take place under security requirements that are unnecessarily stringent.

At a minimum, U.S. personnel should have more flexibility in visiting both Somaliland and Puntland.The U.S. dual track policy will continue to react to the situation on the ground in the Horn of Africa. As the situation changes, U.S. priorities will change and there could be even significant policy changes.

While the campaign against al-Shabaab has been the single most significant determinant of U.S. policy in the region, it is not the only one. The United States remains interested in advancing economic development and democratization in Somalia and Somaliland.

While pressures on the U.S. federal budget are going to make U.S. engagement increasingly more difficult in the coming months, Somaliland needs to continue to make its case for additional U.S. assistance.

Ultimately, the status of Somaliland and the rest of Somalia will most probably be determined by Somalis throughout the country in consultation with each other. Once there is agreement among Somalis, the international community will almost certainly follow their lead.

David H. Shinn is an adjunct professor of international affairs at The George Washington University, Amb. Shinn, who received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from GW, is a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia (1996-99) and to Burkina Faso (1987-90) and the author of China and Africa: A Century of Engagement. His blog can be found here. Reprinted with permission from David H. Shinn.

Somaliland: The Heart of What We Do

07 May 2012. Source: Reuters. member // Medair - Switzerland.

One of the main ways we provide relief in Somaliland’s camps is through promoting the importance of good health and hygiene behaviour.

Like most people who live in Burao’s displacement camps, Safiya Ibrahim Gurxan confronts the prospect of disease and malnutrition on almost a daily basis. The cramped, chaotic conditions make these camps a breeding ground for illness and poor health.

Zafiya and her family moved to Muruqmaal camp after their herd of goats and sheep was claimed by the drought. She remains hopeful that she and her family will one day earn a good living on their own again. Until then, she welcomes the assistance that Medair provides in Muruqmaal and in 21 other camps here.

“Medair’s hygiene volunteers visited us and gave us hygiene messages three times,” she said. “We’ve learned a lot of new things from them, like burning our rubbish, boiling water before we drink it, and how to clean our latrine and keep our houses clean.”

Our health and hygiene teams encourage camp residents to adopt healthier practices in order to help alleviate the struggles they face on a daily basis. We also distribute ceramic water filters, jerry cans, soap, and cleaning equipment to give residents the tools they need to make the camps cleaner and more hygienic.

Hygiene Promotion

Repeating simple messages is proving an effective line of action, as Medair-trained WASH volunteer Farah Jama Awl can attest. She has witnessed firsthand the improvements that come from communicating the simple yet key messages of ‘wash your hands,’ ‘drink clean water,’ and ‘use the latrine.’

“Since I’ve been doing it, I’ve seen a big change,” said Farah. “When I first came with these messages, people were saying to me every day: ‘What are you saying? Why are you saying it? Who told you this?’ But in the past six months, they have been taking the messages and applying them. Before, maybe 30 percent took the message, but now I think it’s 100 percent.”

“Giving people information is at the heart of what we do,” said Dr. Adele Cowper, Medair Health Project Manager. “People do not necessarily know that washing their hands can prevent diarrhoea.”

Twelve-year-old Farax Hassan Adan, an Ethiopian refugee from a family of eight children, has been very receptive to the hygiene messages. “My siblings received hygiene education and my sister passed it on to me, telling me to use the latrine and wash my hands,” she said. “I also learned to clean the latrine and wash my hands with soap. We have no soap at home at the moment, so this [soap] distribution is helpful for us.”

Knowing that it is healthier to use a latrine is only helpful if there are latrines available to use. In the past year alone, we have built more than 400 latrines in the camps and seen sanitation improve dramatically. Medair’s Daniel Ndege, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Project Manager, notes the latrines have made a swift impact.

“It is very encouraging to see how people have adapted to using latrines,” said Daniel. “In the camps we surveyed, we found that 86 percent of the population were regularly using a clean and working latrine.”

Health Promotion

Even as hygiene improves, the crowded conditions of these camps remains a major contributor to the transmission of measles and tuberculosis (T.B.), according to Adele.

“The other big problem is that the communities may not know what health services they can access?or if they are minority groups or refugees, they might feel that they are not welcome to use the same services local people do,” said Adele.

One of the most pressing concerns is the prevalence of malnutrition and the levels of preventable disease that occur as a result. Incidences of diarrhoea, respiratory infections, and measles are all linked to malnutrition, and together they contribute to being the main cause of illness and death among children in the camps.

In response, Medair runs a comprehensive nutrition programme for children under five years of age, as well as free vaccination services to combat measles and T.B.

Medair also runs health promotion demonstrations in the camps, teaching women especially about the nutritional value of breastfeeding, about immunisation, and about going to a maternal and child health clinic when they are in labour.

“Today, nearly all the women in Koosaar camp understand how important these sorts of practices are,” said Asha Mohamed Yusuf, Maternal Health Volunteer. “Before, things were not like this, but people are better educated now.”

“I have learned a lot of things about health here in the camp,” said Honi Ahmed, a mother of 10. “Immunisations protect children against diseases and ensure they stay healthy. I advise all my friends to have their children immunised, but people here are quite sensitive about this. You have to give them some encouragement.”

Camp to camp, day after day, Medair is proving that the lasting effects of better health and hygiene can make a difference, even in the most desperate of circumstances. It’s a message that must be carried forward, and openly shared and acted upon, from volunteer to camp dweller, from family to friend, from generation to generation.

Somaliland: Death By Firing Squad Ordered For 17 Civilians

By Daniel Tovrov. May 17, 2012.

A military court in Somaliland sentenced 17 civilians to death by firing squad on Wednesday for attacking army officers in the capital of Hargeisa.

The tribunal's ruling came just one day after clashes in Hargeisa left seven people dead, including three army officers and a pregnant woman.

Tuesday's raid stemmed from a decades-old land dispute. Thirty armed members of the same clan attacked a military base on the outskirts of the city, claiming that the base was built on their ancestral lands, according to Africa Review. A number of bystanders were injured in the gun battle.

"The army killed two of the attackers, wounded eight and captured 28," General Ismael Mohamed Shaqale, commander of Somaliland's Army, stated.

Three of those arrested on Tuesday were acquitted on Wednesday and three have yet to be tried because they are being treated for injuries. Another five were sentenced to life in prison, escaping the death penalty because they were minors, the BBC reported.

None of the suspects who appeared in court on Wednesday -- including those sentenced to death -- were allowed legal representation and the sentencing was said to have taken only a few hours.

"All the suspects admitted to have participated in an armed attack against a military compound,” the courts judge, Col. Yusuf Farah Sharmarke, told Africa Review, adding that confiscated weapons and the confessions provided enough evidence to convict.

The verdict has sparked fears of a violent reprisal and, according to the Somaliland Press, "tensions are soaring in the city and atmosphere is [tense] following the announcement of the sentences."

Somaliland is a self-declared independent nation, although it is recognized internationally as an autonomous region of Somalia. The area has its own government, which started as a tight-knit coalition between Somaliland's many clans and eventually turned into a multi-party democracy, one that the New York Times called in 2007 "an overlooked African success story."

While Somaliland has escaped much of the violence that has plagued Somalia since the civil war began in 1991, land disputes there are not uncommon. Tuesday's attack was the bloodiest since 2008, when coordinated car bombings in Hargeisa left more than 20 people dead.

Somaliland: Africa’s unofficial country

From: BBC. May 19, 2012,

Currency traders in Somaliland (Simon Reeve)

In most countries you need a passport to exchange foreign money for local currency. In Somaliland, an unrecognised country in the Horn of Africa, you need a wheelbarrow.

Most local banknotes in Somaliland are only worth pennies, so a brick of money is usually needed to buy a meal of camel hump or goat meat. The whole process of exchanging notes is gloriously exotic.

In the dusty local market in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, rows of currency traders set up stalls on the side of the road with money they value by weight. Some traders have hundreds of kilos of notes ready to swap for pound sterling, US dollars or euros, with barrow-boy helpers moving the money around on two wheels or in the back of a car. I gave them $100, and was handed a sack of Somaliland shillings that made me feel like a millionaire.

I was visiting Somaliland on a journey that took me from South Africa, up the east coast of the continent, around India and back down through Indonesia to finish in southwest Australia.

Rarely visited by Westerners, Somaliland is fundamentally different from the other countries in the region -- and almost anywhere else on the planet. According to the rest of the world, Somaliland is, officially, just a part of Somalia, located in the northern area along the Gulf of Aden. Somalia has endured appalling suffering during recent decades and has become the classic example of a failed state.

At least one million Somalis have died in the conflict that has raged there for decades, and when I visited the Somali capital Mogadishu recently, the country was undergoing a famine that started during summer 2011 and by unofficial estimates has killed tens of thousands and affected millions more. For foreigners it is an anarchic, chaotic and a frighteningly dangerous place. I wore a flak jacket, helmet and “blast boxers” (armoured underwear) as I witnessed active frontline combat in the ongoing battle to control the country.

Somaliland, by contrast, is an unrecognised state larger than England and home to 3.5 million people, but it has an independent, democratically elected government and its own army, flag, media and border control, but must rely on an uneasy relationship with Somalia for matters like international diplomacy and large scale public works. Somaliland also fosters a small tourist industry offering a warm and welcoming alternative to Somalia for the occasional adventurous international traveller who makes it this far.

Landing here after visiting Somalia is a profound culture shock. In Mogadishu visitors are greeted by chaos and bundled into the back of an armoured personnel carrier for their own safety. In Somaliland I was greeted at the airport with a huge smile and warm hug by a local guide and taken by taxi to change money and then for a meaty feast in a local restaurant.

Britain was the former colonial power in Somaliland from 1888-1960.

Locals, overwhelmingly Muslim, fought and died for Britain during World War II, and Somalilanders still feel a strong attachment to the country and what consider its benevolent rule. They now struggle to understand why the UK has not done more to help their country secure legitimate international recognition -- a complicated issue apparently caused by the British government’s desire for an African state to be the first to recognise Somaliland, and the fact that a Somaliland port competes for business with neighbouring Djibouti.

After separating from the shrinking British empire, Somaliland voluntarily joined with Somalia for economic and security reasons. But when a dictator came to power in Somalia the relationship soured in the 1980s. Somalilanders fought a bitter war to reclaim their independence which was ultimately successful, by default, as Somalia collapsed in internal turmoil.

Visiting the Somaliland today is a humbling lesson in survival and self-determination. In Hargeisa, where 50,000 died during the war of re-independence, a Somali MiG jet used to bomb the city sits atop a poignant memorial. But the city is being repaired and redeveloped. There is hustle and bustle, as new shops, internet cafes, hotels and other businesses open every week.

Outside Hargeisa modern facilities for visitors are scarce and basic, but there is plenty to see. At Laas Geel, an area just outside the capital, visitors can see the most significant Neolithic rock-painting site in Africa, a treasure of global significance where the strong, vibrant colours and stark outlines show ancient locals worshipping cattle and venerating a pregnant cow.

Farther afield a stunning drive through a dusty landscape takes you to the medieval port town of Berbera, site of a runway once secured by NASA as an emergency space shuttle landing strip. Tracks run along the coast west from Berbera, past mangroves, gorgeous islands and coral reef, to the towering cliffs and beaches around the historic city of Zeila, once part of the Ottoman Empire and a major centre for trade during the 19th Century.

History lovers are well catered for along the coast with ruined cities, thousands of years old, which had links with ancient Egypt and northern Ethiopia. Energetic visitors can hike up into the thick forests in the Cal Madow mountains, home to at least 200 endemic plants and rare and beautiful wildlife, including the golden-winged grosbeak and the beira antelope. But the main attraction of this unrecognized country, at least for me, are the locals.

Somalilanders are an inspirational people who have built a functioning state in a dangerous part of the world. The country, whether internationally recognized or not, is a stark and beautiful land and, thanks to both the landscape and the locals, one of my favourite places on the entire planet.

The adventurer and explorer Simon Reeve has visited more than 110 countries and been around the world three times for the BBC television series Equator, Tropic of Cancer, and Tropic of Capricorn. His latest televised journey, that included Somaliland, was titled Indian Ocean.

Somalia: UN Envoy Concerned Over Violent Clashes in Hargeisa

19 May 2012

The United Nations envoy in Somalia, Augustine P. Mahiga, today expressed concern over recent violent clashes in the northern city of Hargeisa, located in Somaliland, between Somaliland security forces and citizens which allegedly resulted in the deaths on both sides.

According to media reports, earlier this week a military court in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, sentenced 17 civilians to death for attacking a military base in relation to a land dispute. This led to dozens of people marching through the city's streets demanding the release of the defendants, before riot police reportedly dispersed the crowd.

"The Special Representative of the Secretary-General [Mr. Mahiga] regrets the loss of life on both sides and expresses concern the trial of these civilians was conducted by a military in contradiction of both applicable local statutes and customary norms of standards of international law," the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) said in a statement issued on Saturday.

"He urges the immediate transfer of the case to a criminal court and encourages the authorities to ensure that fair trial rights are respected in a new trial," UNPOS added, noting that Mr. Mahiga is also calling for a full, impartial, independent and transparent investigation into the incident and its aftermath.

Food Voucher Initiative in Somaliland Called Big Success

Somali women and children wait for relief supplies from the UN High Commission for Refugees, in Galkacyo, Somaliland, December 2010. (file photo)xSomali women and children wait for relief supplies from the UN High Commission for Refugees, in Galkacyo, Somaliland, December 2010. (file photo)

Lisa Schlein. May 15, 2012.

GENEVA - The World Food Program says a program in Somaliland that allows people to buy food with cash vouchers instead of receiving handouts is proving to be a huge success. Based on the favorable results, WFP says it plans to expand the initiative to other accessible parts of Somalia.

The World Food Program says thousands of people in Somaliland are enjoying a better, more varied diet since it introduced its voucher scheme. Under the program, people receive $80 worth of vouchers every month.

WFP spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs said people can then use the vouchers to buy a variety of food on the local market.

"And to buy the food they like - more fresh meat in their diet. For instance, fresh camel meat or goat meat. They can also, of course buy oil, vegetables, flour and pulses. But they can choose whatever they like," she said.

So far, around 15,000 people in northwestern Somaliland are being given the vouchers as an alternative to food rations. The first phase of the project is linked to WFP’s nutrition program for young children in Burao, Somaliland.

This program is a departure from WFP's normal way of helping malnourished children. In the past, the family of each child being treated for moderate malnutrition received a monthly ration of food.

The initiative is proving to be extremely popular. Since the vouchers were introduced, WFP notes there has been an increase in the number of people bringing their children in for nutrition screening. Because of this, undernourished children are more likely to get the treatment they need to make them healthy.

Byrs said the program also is proving to be beneficial for the 13 local traders registered to accept the vouchers and the community.

"It is a win-win strategy. We can win on both sides - increase the number of children who get food support and increase the number of local traders who get support - and boost the local economy. So, families also get the choice to eat what they like to eat according to their traditional diet," she said.

An estimated 2.5 million people in Somalia are still facing a food crisis. WFP is able to reach about 1.5 million with assistance.

WFP says it plans to expand the voucher program to accessible areas throughout the country. It remains unable to work in areas of southern Somalia controlled by the militant group al-Shabab.

The United Nations food agency says the vouchers will be distributed during harvest periods when food is available in markets. At other times of the year when supplies are scarce, WFP says it will continue to provide direct rations to people who are short of food.?

Somaliland team participates in regional conference in Ethiopia

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 19 May 2012. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 12 May 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

[Unattributed report: "Somaliland Participates in IGAD Conference"]

A Somaliland delegation including Foreign Minister Dr Muhammad Abdullahi Umar, Interior Minister Muhammad Nur Arale and Planning Minister Sa'ad Ali Shire took part in an IGAD [Inter-Governmental Authority on Development] conference in Addis Ababa.

The purpose of the conference was to help in the development of countries in the Horn of Africa region, and it was attended by foreign donors.

Somaliland's delegation spoke at the opening of the conference and held discussions with about 20 representatives of donor countries.

According to website, it was agreed that the projects to develop countries of the region must be increased, and the Secretary General of IGAD, Mahbub Ma'alin said IGAD is impressed with Somaliland's progress.

Credit: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 12 May 12

Somaliland, Djibouti sign diplomatic, security pact

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 19 May 2012. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 12 May 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The Governments of Somaliland and Djibouti have signed agreements to enhance their diplomatic, economic and security relationship following a visit of Somaliland's Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Muhammad Abdullahi Umar to Djibouti last week.

Umar and his delegation met with President Ismail Umar Guelleh in the presence of Foreign Affairs Minister Muhammad Ali Yusuf. Umar brought an official message from President Silanyo to President Guelleh. Discussions covered issues relevant to pertinent political and security matters in the region, as well as consideration of how Somaliland could be integrated into regional development activities as an equal player and partner.

The visit by Dr Umar followed a visit by Somaliland's Minister of Interior, Dur Arale, who visited Djibouti following a problem arising from poor communications when two Djibouti cabinet ministers were denied entry into Somaliland by immigration officials based at the Lugahaya border point.

Credit: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 12 May 12

Somaliland leader urges international community to recognize its "independence"

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 18 May 2012. website in English 18 May 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

[President of Somaliland] Ahmad Muhammad Mahmud Silanyo has said that Somaliland will not relinquish its efforts to gain independence.

The president asked the international community to fully recognize Somaliland as an independent state.

He sent congratulatory messages to Somaliland citizens, parliamentarians, armed forces and the Diaspora community [of Somaliland].

"We should unite and ask the world for recognition as an independent nation," he said in his address.

Silanyo said the world should know that Somaliland is an "independent nation and that is as clear as daylight".

Credit: website in English 18 May 12

Split loyalties trip up Somaliland recognition dance

Source: Africa Review

British-based Somalilanders wave the flag of the internationally unrecognised self-declared republic of Somaliland as they hold a pro-independence rally outside Downing street in London on February 22, 2012. They called for recognition of Somaliland, currently a region of Somalia in the eyes of the international community, as a sovereign state following the region's unilateral declaration of independence over two decades ago. AFP |

by Abdulkadir Khalif. Friday, May 18, 2012

Mogadishu, Somalia - On May 18, Somaliland marks the 21st anniversary of its self-declaration of independence from the rest of Somalia. Most of those years have been spent seeking international recognition.

And while events over the last five months have moved its dream ever so slightly to fruition, the reality is that it will remain a long haul flight.

The historic London Conference on Somalia was on February 23 attended by 44 governments and international bodies interested in Somali issues, and also by a motley of Somali groups representing differing interests.

At a glance, the communiqué issued at the end of the conference recognised the need for the international community to support any dialogue that Somaliland and the Somalia Transitional Federal Government or its replacement may agree to hold to clarify their future relations.

Talks push

According to its charter, the TFG represents the totality of Somalia while Somaliland is an authority with Hargeisa, 1500 northeast of Mogadishu, as itscapital. The latter declared separation from the rest of Somalia on May 18, 1991; four months after the collapse of the dictatorial regime of the late General Mohamed Siad Barre.

The unilateral declaration of independence was mainly backed by Somali National Movement (SNM), a rebel movement dominated by Issaq clansmen, one of the five main clans in the region.

Keeping in mind the weighty remarks by the international community, TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed upon returning to Mogadishu announced his government’s willingness to hold talks with the separatist Somaliland.

Sheikh Ahmed said that his government would spare no effort in clearing up rancorous differences between the two sides: "We maintain our unity and brotherhood."

He added: "We are ready to iron out our differences including acknowledging past mistakes," he added while at Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle International Airport.

Just a few days later, Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud alias Silanyo told the media upon returning to Hargeisa from London that his authority would hold talks with the TFG that would clearly be based on, among others, the independence of Somaliland and the relationship between the two sides.

A Somali intellectual, Mohamud M. Uluso, was among those who immediately criticised the planned meeting. In an article published on largely Somali news website Hiiraan Online on February 28 (click here to read the article), he stated his opinion that such talks would undermine the unity and integrity of Somalia.

"Confirmation that Somaliland is not part of Somalia or of TFG came on February 23, 2012 [when] Somalia ended to exist internationally,” wrote Dr Uluso.

"Over the next three years, Somaliland will receive directly from UK about £105 million for promoting prosperity, tackling poverty and consolidating progress on stability and democracy,” he added.

Quick to support

But not everybody was as critical. In Mogadishu, traditional clan elders were quick to express support for the talks.

"We are pleased that Somalis [will] engage in reconciliatory talks," said Mr Mohamed Hassan Haad, an elder from the Hawiye Elders’ Association in Mogadishu.

In Hargeisa, the initial public mood was optimistic. Mr Ibrahim Jama Samatar, a community elder in Somaliland labelled the London Conference as one that had brought progress, and praised Somaliland's President Mohamoud.

"In the past, we experienced one step forward with two steps backward,” said Elder Samatar. “We are now witnessing just steps taken forward."

A warning note came from an important player in Somalia’s politics. The President of the semiautonomous state of Puntland in north eastern Somalia, Abdurahman Mohamed Farole, who warned against the division of Somalia.

The federalist Puntland does not advocate for separation from Somalia.

Must not divide

A few days after the London conference, Mr Farole told members from the Somali community in UK that the promoters of the increasing number of states being formed must not lead to division of the country.

"We must be aware that the country belongs to all of us,” said President Farole, adding that splitting the country would harm the process of moving Somalia from its transitional stage to a permanent government.

After nearly six weeks, Somaliland President Silanyo broke his silence. On April 7 he nominated a committee of ministers to hold talks with the TFG at a venue in London. The breakaway republic’s foreign minister, Dr Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, would lead the team.

But no date was announced. TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed named his team a week later, appointing seven officials to the planned talks with Somaliland. The TFG team would be led by Interior Affairs and Security minister Abdisamad Moalim Mohamoud. "The TFG team will hold talks with a counterpart delegation from Somaliland in London, UK,” said a Somalia presidential decree issued on April 14.

On April 19 however, Somaliland officials rejected the talks, protesting the inclusion in the TFG team of two politicians hailing from Puntland, which has a long-term dispute with Somaliland over three regions separating the two authorities.

Tried to justify

Foreign minister Dr Omar sought to justify the refusal: "He (TFG President Ahmed) included (in the team) two extra men who hail from Somaliland," adding that people hailing from the territories of the former British Somaliland Protectorate cannot participate on behalf of the TFG.

"The talks must be solely between the former British Somaliland and the former Italian colony,” stressed Minister Omar.

The question is how many officials from the former British Somaliland hold positions in the TFG or even in Puntland. The head of the Judiciary, the TFG’s third branch, Mr Aideed Abdullahi Ilkahaf, deputy speaker of the Parliament in Mogadishu, Mr Ahmed Dhimbil Roble Asowe, two deputy PMs, a galaxy of ministers and a multitude of legislators are from the northwestern regions officially claimed by the Somaliland authority.

In the last TFG cabinet reshuffle in April, one minister was sacked and another, Mr Mohamoud Jirdeh Hussein, appointed to the Labour, Youth and Sports docket. Both men hail from the northwestern regions or Somaliland.

On April 10, deputy parliament speaker Asowe angrily reacted to the envisaged talks between Somaliland and TFG. He said any bilateral talks would be illegal if not scrutinised by the legislative.

Different natures

The nature and the establishments of Somaliland authority and the TFG are entirely different.

While, Somaliland is based on politicians supporting the cessation from the rest of Somalia, the TFG is a central government that is based on four Somali clans (Dir, Darood, Hawiye and Digil Mififle) and a coalition of smaller clans that stand as half of one of the major clans in what is widely known as The 4.5 Power-sharing Formula.

Therefore, the TFG has had the most inclusive participation of clansmen.

Politicians from Somaliland’s five sub-clans, i.e. Isaaq, Issa, Gadabursi, Warsangeli and Dhulbahante all hold positions in the TFG.

Therefore, whenever the TFG wants to negotiate with other parties or sides, be the international community or representatives from authorities within Somalia, including Somaliland, the TFG representatives are more likely to be diverse, reflecting its 4.5 power sharing.

When Somaliland’s Dr Omar sensed that politicians hailing from the jurisdiction claimed by Somaliland were in the TFG line-up, he ruled out all negotiations.

Pandora box

His objection actually raised more questions than answers and may have opened a Pandora’s Box.

Col Abdirizak Bakayle Haji, a prominent official of Khatumo State of Somalia, an authority set up in January 2012 and claiming the jurisdiction of most of the eastern territories of Somaliland, especially Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (the so-called SSC) regions, on April 20 said that Hargeisa did not represent the "whole of what is called Somaliland".

Col Bakayle wanted the TFG and the international community to realise that apart from Somaliland there were other authorities in northern Somalia that represented the interests of their peoples (clans).

"The assumption that the Somaliland authority has the legitimate right to represent the people in Northern Somalia (former British Somaliland Protectorate) is wrong,” said Col Bakayle.

"Those claiming to be in Somaliland authority are only part of whole issue of Northern Somalia,” he added.

The colonel insisted that Khatumo State of Somalia is for a unified Somalia, but based on legitimate co-existence. “I guess they (Somaliland) are part of the overall issues."

While Khatumo State of Somalia claims to represent most of the peoples in the eastern Somaliland, observers confirm that unannounced authorities are also embraced by clansmen dominating the western regions of Somaliland.

Many challenges

These include Awdal State of Somalia, whose promoters are mainly from Issa and Gadabursi clans. Though Khatumo and Awdal States of Somalia are known to be pro-Somalia unity, the Somaliland authority has no shortage of other challenges.

On April 21, Puntland minister for Planning and International relations Da’ud Mohamed Omar held a press conference in his office in the Puntland capital Garowe town, 1000 km north of Mogadishu.

He was equally bitter about Somaliland’s reaction to two of the appointed delegates by the TFG’s President Ahmed.

"Puntland is part and parcel of the TFG and no party (including Somaliland) has right to reject our officials to join negotiations,” stated Minister Omar.

The parties disputing the legality of Somaliland authority to speak on behalf of the northwestern regions of Somalia (former British Somaliland Protectorate) are myriad and represent various interests.

First and foremost are the authorities like Khatumo State of Somalia and Awdal State of Somalia, two ardent unionists (striving for the unity of Somalia).

Claims jurisdiction

Puntland, a neighbouring but powerful authority claims that parts of northwestern regions of Somalia, namely Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) are part of its jurisdiction because the Wargangeli and Dhulbahante clans that dominate the three regions have closer clan linkages with its own people.

The TFG in Mogadishu technically represents the entire constituents of Somalia. Therefore, its ranks are politicians and decision makers form every clan that also formed the breakaway Republic of Somaliland.

Even the late Abdurahman Ahmed Ali alias Abdurahman Tour, the rebel leader who found the Republic of Somaliland renounced the cessation bid, came to Mogadishu to become the deputy leader of the late General Mohamed Farah Aideed, a rebel leader in Southern Somalia who attempted to form Dowladdii Salbalaar (the broad based government). Mr Abdurahman Tour died still advocating for the unity of Somalia against the Somaliland authority he helped to be installed on May 18, 1991.

It looks that there are numerous shards of glasses littering the road that is supposed to free Hargeisa from Mogadishu.

Convince elders

According to observers, a good way around this would be to convince the clan leaders of Dhulbahante, Warsangeli, Gadabursi and Issa to join the Issaq clansmen to accept and support the cessation.

If past experiences and recent event have anything to teach, President Ahmed Silanyo of Somaliland has an elephantine task to convince that all the people in the northwestern regions of Somalia that they will be better off under his authority.

While earning the trust and confidence of rival clansmen is hard to achieve in Somalia, ignoring them would have worse consequences.

On Saturday May 12, Somaliland President Ahmed Silanyo visited Dilla town, a settlement between Hargeisa and Borama to open a repaired 10-kilometre road section between Dilla and Borama.

An elder in the area showered praises on President Silalnyo for visiting the area but visibly embarrassed the head of the authority by assuring the loyalty of the people in Awdal region to Somaliland.

Hidden sentiments

“I can guarantee you that these people are not loyal to Awdal State (of Somalia),” said the elder, pointing a finger at the gathered crowd.

Such spontaneous statements comparing the Somaliland Republic and Awdal State was enough to justify the old Somali saying, "Wax uur ku jira afkaa dafo" (an inner feeling is made public by the tongue).

It also illustrates that significant clansmen in Somaliland are harbouring loyalties to other institutions like Khatumo and Awdal states and even to the TFG, certifying that split loyalties remains a bone of contention unless addressed on the ground as well as on the negotiating table.

"Unintentional, but such remarks are like salt being rubbed into the wounds of Somaliland president (Silanyo),” said a radio listener who contacted the media in Mogadishu. He added that it would be extremely difficult for Somaliland loyalists to easily break from the rest of Somalia.

UN voucher programme adds more fresh food to diets in Somaliland, aids local economy

M2 Presswire [Coventry] 15 May 2012.

Thousands of people in Somaliland, in northern Somalia, are getting more fresh meat in their diet as a result of an innovative UN initiative that provides parents with vouchers to help them afford nutritious food from local traders, according to the World Food Programme (WFP ).

"Using vouchers gives people greater choice about what food to eat, and gives WFP a powerful new tool for providing food assistance to the most vulnerable," WFP's Country Director for Somalia, Stefano Porretti, said in a news release today. "At the same time, vouchers help the local economy by supporting local small and medium-scale producers and retailers."

Under the programme, people receive $80 in vouchers each month, and can use them to buy a variety of food including rice, cooking oil and fresh camel and goat meat. So far, around 15,000 people in north-western Somaliland are being given the vouchers as an alternative to food rations, and WFP plans to expand the initiative to other areas later this year.

WFP has reached about 1.5 million people with assistance in those areas of Somalia to which it has had access since the start of the east African country's food crisis last year. Long-awaited rains and a good harvest mean that famine has receded, but gains made in food security and nutrition are fragile.

The first phase of the voucher project is linked to WFP's nutrition programme for young children in Burao, Somaliland. In the past, the family of each child being treated for moderate malnutrition received a monthly ration of food from WFP, but now, with the WFP-provided set of vouchers, families can buy food from local retailers.

WFP is partnering with the Danish Refugee Council to distribute the vouchers, in coordination with Medair, a non-governmental organisation which manages the nutrition programme in Burao.

In the first phase of the voucher project, 13 local traders registered to accept the vouchers, including those who sell fresh camel and goat meat, which are staples of the diet for most people in the largely pastoralist region and can play a vital role in improving nutritional status.

Eventually, WFP plans to expand the voucher approach to relief, recovery and resilience activities throughout the country where market conditions allow. WFP will distribute vouchers seasonally, during harvest periods when food is available in markets, while at other times of the year, the agency will continue providing direct food rations during the lean seasons when supplies are scarcer.

Somaliland's Oppressed Media: The Test of Democracy is Freedom of Criticism

With little training or support, Somaliland's press is suffering at the hands of a fearful government.

16 May 2012 - 10:33am | By Mark Anderson.

Television reporter Abdisaman Keise (pictured) was arrested last month by Somaliland authorities on grounds of defamation. Photo by Mark Anderson Hargeisa, Somaliland:

On May 18, Somaliland will celebrate 21 years of self-declared independence from Somalia. With a thriving democracy, exemplified by the 2010 presidential election which saw Daahir Rayaale peacefully transfer power to Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo, many African observers believe Somaliland should be destined for official statehood.

But all is not as rosy as it seems, and Somaliland’s democratic credentials are by no means untarnished. In particular, press freedoms, especially in the disputed eastern regions formerly known as Sool, Sanag and Cayn, and in the desolate western coastal areas used by the Ogaden National Liberation Front to access the sea, are said to be falling back into old patterns of repression and censorship.

Even Somaliland Focus UK, a group of former electoral observers who were so impressed with Somaliland’s potential they formed a group to champion its quest for international recognition, is concerned. Earlier this year, the group sent a letter to the newly-appointed Minister of Information, Abdirahman Yusuf Duale (“Bobe”), urging reforms of Somaliland’s media laws, and a general shift in the government’s attitude towards journalists.

“Actions against media were a regrettable hallmark of past Somaliland administrations,” Cecilia Milesi, Chair of the Somaliland Focus UK, writes in the letter, “and we are extremely disappointed to see this government continuing to employ such practices”.

“I think it’s a lack of confidence on the part of the government,” Michael Walls from Somaliland Focus UK told Think Africa Press. “They don’t really know how to deal with security threats, they don’t know how to discern between simple criticism and inciting people to violence – and those are big problems.”

Arrests and detentions

In 2011, the Somaliland Journalist Association (SOLJA) outlined fourteen incidents of government persecution against media outlets, six of which were violent. In a final note to the list, SOLJA’s secretary-general Mohamed Rashid Farah proclaimed: “Urgent measures must be taken to uphold the fundamental rights and freedom of expression for Somaliland reporters.”

In early April, television reporters Ahmed Ali Farah and Abdisaman Keise were arrested on the grounds of defamation while covering a conflict between the Somaliland government and the newly-formed Khaatumo state.

“I was visiting my friend Ahmed Ali Farah [a journalist arrested 3 days earlier] in prison and the local governor detained me for five days” Abdisaman Keise explained through an interpreter. “They didn’t tell me why I was being held, and they beat me five times and hit me with the butt of a gun when they first arrested me. I cannot work freely in Somaliland,” he added. “I want to leave the country.”

The New York-based Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) has also been vocal in condemning Somaliland’s harassment of journalists.

"Authorities are holding Ahmed Ali Farah and Abdisaman Isse (sic) without explanation, in violation of the law, and in apparent reprisal for political coverage deemed unfavourable," CPJ’s East Africa Correspondent Tom Rhodes said in a statement on their website.

SOLJA has over 230 members across Somaliland, providing assistance when problems with local government arise. But with little educational infrastructure in Somaliland and virtually no funding to hold training programmes, the organisation’s ability to instil a lasting change on Somaliland’s media is limited.

Journalists are commonly charged with defamation, usually in informal on-the-spot rulings by local politicians. And government and journalists both claim the media often distort facts, basing articles on unreliable sources and serving as a platform to advertise private companies.

The power of the media

The power of Somaliland’s media to influence clan relations and mobilise the public, as evidenced by coverage of Khaatumo state, is feared by the government.

“We may be sensitive to certain issues” Adbirahman Yusuf Duale explained to Think Africa Press. “Any issue related to the security and stability of the country that may create any rifts in the public – we may be very sensitive to that.”

Many journalists, however, feel this sensitivity extending into general tension on the streets of Hargeisa. “When I go to the market, people don’t like me taking photos. The moment you take photos the police are thinking of security,” claimed freelance journalist Rooble Mohamed.

A power struggle between the government and the media is now playing out, with both vying for control and influence over Somaliland’s population.

Veteran Somaliland journalist Husein Ali Noor explained: “We’ve got two forces competing for power. On the one hand, the power of the government to silence the media can challenge journalists’ freedom. But on the other hand, the government is frightened of the media’s ability to challenge their own power. So the two are constantly bickering.”

Enter web journalism

The rise of internet-based journalism has further complicated Somaliland’s media environment. Like much of the media in Somaliland, most newly-launched websites lack original and objective reporting, and position themselves in a polarised political space, often operating beyond the reach of the Somaliland government in the diaspora.

“Either you are supporting the government 200%, or you are against them 300%,” Rooble explained. Worse still, these websites often seem to employ questionable journalistic practices that rely on weak, undisclosed sources, and often appear to function as promotional tools for companies.

“There are no negative articles about Dahabshiil [a large money-transfer corporation] or Telesom [a telecommunications company] because when they pay to place advertisements in the media” claimed Rooble, there “is a clause for no negative media attention”.

The need for training

Most journalists say that a lack of educational opportunities is the underlying problem with Somaliland’s media. As well as being very poorly paid, no formal journalistic training has been offered in Somaliland since 2009, when the University of Hargeisa terminated its journalism programme.

Although Dutch-based Delmar Media, a Somali diaspora website, offers short training workshops for journalists in the summer, and USAID has held sporadic 2-3 day seminars over the past few years, no long-term solutions are in place at the moment.

Rooble elucidated the hopes of many of his Somaliland colleagues as he said: “I would like to see a training programme in Somaliland that addresses the key skills necessary to be a journalist: behaviour and ethics, writing and structure and a course on investigative journalism to help us uncover corruption.”

Think Africa Press welcomes inquiries regarding the republication of its articles. If you would like to republish this or any other article for re-print, syndication or educational purposes, please contact:

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is a London-based freelance journalist currently working for Africa Confidential. He was formerly based in Hargesia as Reuters' Somaliland Correspondent and is due to undertake a Masters of Journalism at UC Berkeley this August.

Food Voucher Initiative in Somaliland Called Big Success

Somali women and children wait for relief supplies from the UN High Commission for Refugees, in Galkacyo, Somaliland, December 2010. (file photo)xSomali women and children wait for relief supplies from the UN High Commission for Refugees, in Galkacyo, Somaliland, December 2010. (file photo)

Lisa Schlein. May 15, 2012.

GENEVA - The World Food Program says a program in Somaliland that allows people to buy food with cash vouchers instead of receiving handouts is proving to be a huge success. Based on the favorable results, WFP says it plans to expand the initiative to other accessible parts of Somalia.

The World Food Program says thousands of people in Somaliland are enjoying a better, more varied diet since it introduced its voucher scheme. Under the program, people receive $80 worth of vouchers every month.

WFP spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs said people can then use the vouchers to buy a variety of food on the local market.

"And to buy the food they like - more fresh meat in their diet. For instance, fresh camel meat or goat meat. They can also, of course buy oil, vegetables, flour and pulses. But they can choose whatever they like," she said.

So far, around 15,000 people in northwestern Somaliland are being given the vouchers as an alternative to food rations. The first phase of the project is linked to WFP’s nutrition program for young children in Burao, Somaliland.

This program is a departure from WFP's normal way of helping malnourished children. In the past, the family of each child being treated for moderate malnutrition received a monthly ration of food.

The initiative is proving to be extremely popular. Since the vouchers were introduced, WFP notes there has been an increase in the number of people bringing their children in for nutrition screening. Because of this, undernourished children are more likely to get the treatment they need to make them healthy.

Byrs said the program also is proving to be beneficial for the 13 local traders registered to accept the vouchers and the community.

"It is a win-win strategy. We can win on both sides - increase the number of children who get food support and increase the number of local traders who get support - and boost the local economy. So, families also get the choice to eat what they like to eat according to their traditional diet," she said.

An estimated 2.5 million people in Somalia are still facing a food crisis. WFP is able to reach about 1.5 million with assistance.

WFP says it plans to expand the voucher program to accessible areas throughout the country. It remains unable to work in areas of southern Somalia controlled by the militant group al-Shabab.

The United Nations food agency says the vouchers will be distributed during harvest periods when food is available in markets. At other times of the year when supplies are scarce, WFP says it will continue to provide direct rations to people who are short of food.?

Somalia: Land dispute in Somaliland leads to 5 deaths

15 May 15, 2012 -

HARGEISA, Somalia May 15 2012 (Garowe Online) – At least 5 people were killed and scores injured after a land dispute turned violent between civilians and Somaliland’s armed security forces in the northern breakaway region’s capital, Hargeisa, Radio Garowe reports.

The dispute was over land that belonged to the former government of President Siad Barre. According to local sources in Hargeisa the Somaliland government sold the disputed land to a businessman. The alleged owners of the disputed land, took the case to court but their appeal was turned down by the Somaliland courts.

According to Hargeisa media the clashes erupted after Somaliland authorities tried to evict the alleged owners of the land. The clashes led to 5 deaths including 3 police officers and two civilians.

After the conflict paused a British trained and heavily armed unit was called in to disperse the angry crowd that gathered in the New Hargeisa neighborhood. The Resistant Reaction Unit (RRU) clashed with the angry crowd shortly after arriving at the scene. The clashes led to more injuries and according to a Somaliland website a mother was wounded in the conflict.

Fowzia Yusuf Adan leader of the NDP party in Somaliland, was briefly jailed in Hargeisa after her and other party leaders protested a ruling which banned them from registering their political parties. Fowzia who spoke to reporters concerning Tuesday’s incident said, “Using military force to quiet people, this is one of the methods that the Somaliland government uses to suppress the civilians, I pray that the God have mercy on the departed and hope the injured regain their health.”

The Somaliland government has yet to release a statement on Tuesday’s clashes.

REFILE-Row between Somali regions slows oil exploration

(Refiles to clarify country is Somali).By Kelly Gilblom

NAIROBI May 11 (Reuters) - A dispute between two semi-autonomous regions in Somalia is delaying exploration for oil and gas over fears that local authorities are issuing licences to explore blocks that overlap in each other's territories, officials said.

East Africa has become a hot spot for oil and gas exploration after new finds in waters off countries including Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique.

The boom has led to speculation about the potential for finding oil offshore Somalia in the Horn of Africa, which so far has no proven hydrocarbon reserves.

"Put it this way: Puntland and Somaliland have what's called 'disputed areas.' It's really created a quagmire," said Ali Abdullahi, the chief executive officer of Amsas Consulting, a Somali firm that advises private oil firms in the region.

Somaliland, which declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 but is still not recognised internationally, has been relatively stable compared with other parts of the country, which has lacked effective central government for two decades.

Although Puntland is also stable, it is notorious for piracy and has frosty relations with Somaliland.

Both regions claim they control a disputed area known as Sool, Cayn and Sanaag (SSC).

Within that zone lie nearly a dozen oil blocks, mostly unlicensed, demarcated by Puntland and Somaliland authorities, according to a map from data firm IHS.

Companies are unsure whether their contracts with the local authorities to drill wells will remain valid.

The dispute between Somaliland and Puntland mirrors another between Kenya and Somalia over their maritime border, which may also deter oil exploring firms.

In March, Canadian firm Horn Petroleum, and its exploration partners, including Vancouver-listed Africa Oil Corp., started drilling in the Dharoor Block, located in the northeast part of Puntland.

Oil consultant Abdullahi and other Somali oil analysts have claimed, furthermore, that any find by Horn Petroleum in Dharoor may be threatened by the fact that state-controlled Italian explorer Eni may still have legal rights to the block.

Eni was issued a license by the Somali government in the 1980s to explore Dharoor.

Both Eni and Horn Petroleum declined to comment.


Additionally, another block licensed by Horn Petroleum and its working partners in the western part of Puntland, known as the Nugaal Block, overlaps a block licensed by Somaliland to unlisted British explorer Asante Oil.

"We are aware that there are overlapping claims in the Nugaal block but don't wish to comment publicly," said Keith Hill, chairman of Horn Petroleum, in an email to Reuters.

"We believe this is a matter best resolved directly by the respective parties."

Asante Oil could not be reached for comment.

For their part, Somaliland and Puntland each deny they have encroached on the other's territory. They blame the other side for licensing blocks in areas that don't belong to them.

"There were a lot of stories about overlapping licenses, (but) it is clear that Somaliland doesn't make any claim beyond the colonial borders that were demarcated," Hussein Du'ale, the minister of mineral resource, energy and water, told Reuters.

In an interview in Somaliland's capital Hargeisa he said the Nugaal Basin, where the Nugaal Block is located, is 80 percent owned by Somaliland, and the licenses issued by Puntland authorities to the same stretch of land are invalid.

"We recognize that there is license given by the administration of Puntland, which claims that this is part of their territory," Du'ale said

"If you look at the colonial border this goes deep into Somaliland territory. We don't ... claim areas in Puntland, and we hope that our brothers will reciprocate."

Issa Mohamud Farah, Puntland's petroleum director, who is in charge of oil exploration, was unavailable to comment.

Without a central government, analysts said it is unclear how and when the potential oil and gas reserves believed to be in Somalia can be explored.

"The (Somali) federal government has been weak for a very long time," said Abdullahi, the oil consultant.

"That leaves the question of who's right and who's wrong here? It's so hard to know." (Additional reporting by Husein Ali Noor in Hargeisa; Editing by James Macharia and Jane Baird)

Somaliland Rejects New Political Parties

Party Chairmen Outraged as Only 6 of 15 New Parties Meet Requirements

By SULEIMAN OSMAN. 05/11/2012

Abuse by Somaliland Authorities

On January 15th of this year, Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo named a commission for the registration and selection of political parties, but at least half of the parties are crying foul over the commission's recent rulings. Somaliland formally adopted a multi-party system in August 2011.

During the registration process, 15 political parties started their campaign throughout the six regions of the self declared state of Somaliland by calling on their supporters to attend public rallies in major cities in order to fulfil the required conditions. The campaigns were conducted in a peaceful manner, and there were no reports of violence. On the 20th of April, the qualifying parties were announced by the Somaliland Commission for Registration and Selection of political parties.

The commission announced the parties which had fulfilled the requirements and those that failed to meet the set criteria. Only 6 out of the 15 new political parties fulfilled all requirements for registration.

The Council of Registration invited party leaders and other stakeholders to Maansoor Hotel in Hargeysa where they officially announced the qualifying parties. Security was tight as many police officers were deployed to the scene. The Registration and Selection Commission, the Somaliland Electoral Commission and party leaders attended the meeting.

Abdalla Ibrahim Mohamed, the deputy commissioner, made the announcement, “After examining and verifying the information of the political parties, we realized that only 6 parties had fulfilled the conditions that were given by the government. The qualifying parties are Wadani, Dalsan, Rays, Umada, Nasiye and Xaqdhowr. The other nine parties which are Nuur, Damal, Horyaal, NDB, Badbaado, Gurmad, Udhis, Jamhuuriga and SSCD have not fulfilled the requirements. This is our final decision and parties are able to appeal," Mr Ibrahim Mohamed told Somalia Report.

Hassan Ahmed Duale “Moalim”, the spokesman for the commission, confirmed only 6 parties were allowed to register.

“We started registering political parties on January 15th of this year. We had several lengthy discussions about the qualifications with the parties and found that only six are suitable and fit the criteria of political parties. I am calling upon them to observe and obey the law of Somaliland, the culture and the Islamic religion," Du’ale told Somalia Report.

Mr Duale described the major conditions necessary for qualification of a political party:

“The biggest conditions are; they have to have an office in all the six regions of Somaliland, they must register at least 1000 members from each province and give them party identification, they must organize a national meeting in the capital, and they have to act within the laws of Somaliland. After this, they can stand for local government elections. We also find out the source of funding of the parties to ensure that they are legally financed," he added.

Party leaders from the rejected parties such as those from NDP, Udhis, Horyaal and Gurmad rejected the announced result, saying it was unacceptable and unfair.

Fauzia Yusuf Haji, the chairwoman of NDB, the first and the only woman to have formed a political party in Somaliland, was jailed and beaten with dozens of her supporters by Somaliland government.

“The announcement was unfair and we are not satisfied. Our party fulfilled all the necessary conditions. The selection of parties was not transparent. The commission even refused to meet with us despite NDP having 300,000 registered supporters throughout Somaliland. There are some organizations that didn't even campaign and were given the approval letters. When we asked the commission to produce clearing letters and justify why they rejected our party, they kept silent. That shows us they are not ready to correct mistakes they have made against us and the people of Somaliland. Also, the government is backing the commission,” Miss Yusuf told Somalia Report.

The chairman of Udhis party, Mr. Ibrahim Abdilahi Hussein Dhegoweyne, expressed his frustration with the outcome.

“Our party had influential people and we met all the requirements. We believe it was a plan that only six parties were selected. We are not accepting the results and we are going to start demonstrations, and call our supporters to come to the streets," he said.

“The announcement was a plan made before by the commission, and they prepared their own things but they must prove this in front of the people and the law. We will go to court," he added.

Miss Fosiyo accused the government of torturing and humiliating her supporters.

“During the preparation for our demonstration, the Rapid Response unit and Anti Terror Forces were deployed against us. 30 of our supporters were detained for one day. Ten of our party officials and I were jailed for four hours without reason in Hargeysa. My supporters were humiliated and tortured by the Anti Terror police. We are denied our rights, we are not allowed to talk, we are made speechless by the government, we are under pressure, and no one is respecting our request and suggestions. I call on the international community and donors to intervene and demand accountability for their funds which are used to beat us," Fosiyo told Somalia Report.

On the other hand, Somaliland Internal Security Minister Mohamed Nur Aarrale (Duur), warned any party which tries to create violence or protest.

“Somaliland is a peaceful country. We have our own security forces and any party which is not satisfied by the law, commission of registration or government is not a party of Somaliland. And anyone who tries to start hostility in this country will not be allowed to and we will take action against them. We will not let those people destroy what we were building for the last twenty years. We will show them that there is a powerful government," Araale Nur declared.

Sultan Mohamed Abdulqadir, one of the oldest Somaliland elders, called on both the Somaliland state and the political parties to remain calm.

“I call on unsuccessful parties not to demonstrate. A strike can bring violence in our land. We are not going to demolish our country with our own hands," he said.

Then again, Nuur Farah HirsI, the chairman of Gurmad, one of the unsuccessful parties, was banned from holding a rally in Erigavo, Sanaag region. He claimed that they completed all the requirements for a political rally, but it was halted by government officials and security forces, sources close to Mr. Hirsi told Somalia Report.

“The governor, Adan Diriye Geljire and police commissioner of Erigavo, Mohamed Jama, went to the home of Mr. Xirsi and they told him that he cannot talk to the people of Erigavo and he must go back to Buroa. After a meeting, Mr. Farah was forced to leave the city, without talking to his supporters," claimed the source.

Yusuf Ismail Ali, the Chairman of the High court of Somaliland, said that he has not received any complaints from political parties.

“The country’s justice system is independent from the government and the government does not dictate to us. So far, the high court has not received any formal complaints from the political parties that failed to meet the requirements. If they reach out to us, we will review their complaints and will take the suitable action."

While many political leaders are angry about the decision by the commission, elsewhere, the chairpersons of successful parties held a joint meeting to congratulate the commission of registration for their effort.

Abdurahman Mohamed Abdullahi, the chairman of parliament and leader of Wadani party talked to Somalia Report about the results.

“We are very happy with the outcome. We welcome the decision and selection by the commission for political parties. This is a victory for the people of Somaliland. The commission has done the right job at the right time. We request them to schedule elections," said Mr. Abdullahi.

Mohamed Abdi Gabose the chairman of Umada expressed his happiness at his party’s victory and being one of the six qualifying parties.

“Umada party and its officials congratulate the commission. This was fair and we are very happy to be among the selected six. My party fulfilled all the requirements," he told Somalia Report.

Ahmed Musa, a Hargeisa-based political analyst disagrees.

“If I look at the matter of political parties and their approval, it seems it was not conducted fairly. Let me give you examples. Most of the selected parties were chaired by politicians who are holding different positions in the current government. Secondly, the commission stated that they will accept any complaints and so far they haven't talked to any one of the aggrieved parties. The third point is that this commission is required to produce a letter articulating how and why these nine organizations failed; the commission has done nothing about that. On the other hand, the government put pressure on the protestors and political leaders. All these points show us that there is something messy. Perhaps the government, commission and key politicians of the elected parties agreed at some points to drop the nine parties,” he explained.

Political tension in Somaliland is rising every day and especially in key cities like Hargeysa, Erigavo, Burao and Berbera. The government and its security forces are controlling the matter, while the disqualified but influential political parties are angry with the government whom they accuse of not listening to them and pressuring them.

While there have been no casualties from the demonstrations that took place after the announcement by the commission, the situation remains unpredictable as the disqualified party leaders and followers nurse their anger. They may fail to heed the call for calm by local elders.

Somalia District Map - Awdal Region (as of 29 Feb 2012)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Note: Map in 3 pages, consist of Borama, Zeylac, Baki District Map. Download PDF (302.14 KB)

Somaliland secret service claims alerting police before attack on military base

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 01 June 2012. The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 26 May 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

A member of Somaliland CID who declined to reveal his identity told Haatuf Newspaper that they found out about the group which attacked the military base in the eastern part of the capital, Hargeysa, a day before the attack, but that the people in charge of security did not take the necessary steps about the situation before it happened.

The armed group attacked the military base on Tuesday but the source from the CID claims to have informed the police about it on Monday.

The CID source added that the fact that something was going on was generally known as the Interior minister himself mentioned but all of a sudden the attackers went on the offensive.

The assault on the military base by an armed group led to the death of eight people, three of whom were soldiers. Twenty eight of the attacking group was arrested with their arms. Subsequently, 17 of the culprits were given death sentences by a military court.

Somaliland secret service, or CID, came under a lot of criticism for failing to find out about the planned attack early enough, and for not stopping it before it happened.

Credit: The Somaliland Times website, Hargeysa, in English 26 May 12

Once Again, No Saudi Women Will Compete in the Olympics

AP. Adam Martin 2:09

This was supposed to be a banner year for Saudi Arabia's Olympic team as women were allowed to compete for the first time, but on Monday the Saudi press reported none had qualified for the competition because none had participated in the qualifying events. So once again the kingdom will still send an all-male team.

The Associated Press picked up the report from Sunday's edition of the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, writing: "It said Saudi men had qualified for track, equestrian, and weightlifting events, but that "There is no 'female team taking part in the three fields," the report said Sunday, quoting an unidentified Saudi official. He said no female athlete had taken part in qualifying events in Saudi Arabia, which severely restricts women in public life."

The one female athlete in the country who realistically could have competed, equestrian Dalma Rushi Malhas, was sidelined two weeks ago when her horse was injured.* The International Herald Tribune's Lara Setrakian wrote that while Saudi Arabia had faced pressure to actually send women to London, "having banned its women and girls from engaging in sports at home, finding one who’s had access to Olympic-level training is a long stretch."

*Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Dalma herself had been injured. Rather, it was her horse.

Somalia: SRSG Mahiga's letter to the Somali people

Report—UN Political Office for Somalia 9 July 2012

As-Salaamu Alaikum,

My friends, we now find ourselves at a decisive moment in the Somali peace process. Since I last wrote to you all in March, a number of remarkable developments have taken place. We are very close to witnessing one of the most significant political events in a generation: the adoption of a provisional draft constitution by a Somali National Constituent Assembly (NCA). The road that led us here has been difficult, with many bends, bumps and no shortage of obstacles. But the Somali people have worked hard to overcome these challenges and their efforts have begun to bear fruit. On 22nd June 2012 the signatories to the Roadmap process signed the provisional Somali Constitution at the Principal’s meeting in Nairobi. The draft text will be submitted in mid-July 2012 to a National Constituent Assembly representing the full spectrum of Somali society and in turn selected by a group of 135 traditional Elders representing all of Somalia’s clans in accordance with the “4.5 formula”. The Principals also agreed on a number of mechanisms to help move the process forward in the small amount of time left before the Transitional period expires on 20 August, including creation of an International Observer Group and a series of protocols establishing a Technical Selection Committee, a Signatories’ Technical Facilitation Committee, the National Constituent Assembly and the New Federal Parliament. Each of these bodies has an important “quality control” role to play in safeguarding the political process and ensuring the adoption of the provisional constitution and preparation for elections by the new Parliament of the President, the Speaker and his or her Deputies.

The adoption of the provisional constitution will indeed be a watershed. But here, let me make an important point: this approval will not be the end point of the constitutional process but the beginning of a new chapter. The Somali people will have ample opportunity to provide input and amendments to the document in the post-August period ahead of a public referendum to be held before the end of the new parliament’s first term. The draft constitution is fully compliant with Islamic law and written by Somalis after consultation with Somalis, specifically through the Independent Federal Constitution Commission and the Committee of Experts. The international community has assisted with funding and has provided expert technical advisors who have developed constitutions in other countries, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Nepal, Indonesia and South Africa. It is a living document which provides a framework to end the transition as foreseen by the Mbagathi and Djibouti Agreements of 2004 and 2009 respectively. Critically, it will also set the stage for the establishment of permanent institutions, such as National Federal Parliament, the Executive and an independent Judiciary. The provisional Constitution will provide the base for future progress and development. It will protect human rights, ensure adequate women’s participation and guarentee fundamental freedoms without discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, origin, or other status.

The end of the transitional period will be an important benchmark, but it is time for us all to begin to look past 20 August and think about the future political dispensation of Somalia. The international community continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Somali sisters and brothers. At recent major international conferences and meetings in London, in Istanbul, in Addis Ababa, in Nairobi and in Rome the message has been uniform and crystal clear—THIS is the moment. We must work together to seize this golden opportunity for peace. The world is looking to the future of Somalia and sees a state that serves the Somali people with effective governance through representative, inclusive and accountable institutions at all levels.

As we move forward, the issue of stabilization in Mogadishu and in the newly recovered areas will become increasing important. We are greatly encouraged by the fast progress made by the TFG and its allies such as Ahlu Sunnah wal Jama'a in cooperation with AMISOM--recently expanded to include Kenyan, Sierra Leonean and Djiboutian units--as well as engagement from Ethiopia forces. The insurgents have been retreating and quickly losing control of large swathes of territory. I am particularly encouraged by the recent recovery of Balad town, which will allow the local population to build their livelihoods in this rich farming region in addition to providing an extra level of protection to Mogadishu. Following the “re-hatting” of Kenyan forces, AMISOM is now poised to take the crucial port of Kismaayo, formally an Al-Shabaab stronghold. I am also glad to report that UNPOS, AMISOM and IGAD along with other UN agencies are visiting the newly recovered areas regularly in coordination with the TFG, in order to support the establishment of local security committees and assess the needs of the local population. The TFG is leading in drafting a comprehensive stabilization plan which will ensure the engagement of all stakeholders.

Only weeks remain before the end of the transitional period and unfortunately, it is likely that as we get closer to 20 August there will be elements that will try and hold the political process hostage to further their own political and personal ends. There will always be a place for vibrant discourse and spirited disagreement—it is an intrinsic and healthy part of any democratic process. But determined action will be taken against those who are willing to undermine and subvert the process. The International community will simply not tolerate spoilers when we are so close to achieving real progress. After 20 years of strife, Somalia cannot afford more delays, more procrastination.

During the remaining days before 20 August—and for the weeks that will follow—communication with and between our key audiences will be increasingly critical. To this end UNPOS will be reaching out broadly, through new media platforms to help get the word out and to provide a forum for us to hear from you. Starting today, you can follow us on Twitter (@UNPOSomalia), view photo essays and images on Flickr ( and read a regular “leadership blog” on Tumblr ( Our Twitter account will “tweet” about the Mission’s work and products. Additionally, it will provide us with an alert system to inform you of press statements and other public notifications. Our Tumblr Leadership Blog will promote provide an informal communications channel to continue the dialogue we’ve started with these letters. Our Flickr account will highlight engaging images from Somalia, to show the world how things are changing on the ground. New shops are opening every day in a revitalized Mogadishu--please visit us at our new digital storefront.

In conclusion, let me urge all Somalis who are stakeholders in the peace process to sustain the political commitment for a broad-based, inclusive and representative post-transitional arrangement. Somalia deserves a political dispensation based on election, not just selection. Somalia deserves peace, prosperity and development. It is time for IDPs and refugees to return home to build their lives in a new Somalia. It is time for Somalia to be whole again. Together, we can make this elusive dream a reality. Amb. Augustine P. Mahiga

Mali: Islamists Destroy Historic City of Timbuktu

Jul 15, 2012 4:45 AM EDT

As the chaos in Mali widens, fighters affiliated with al Qaeda are close to destroying forever one of the world's most important sacred sites in Timbuktu. Paula Froelich reports. Plus, Blake Gopnik on whether destroying Timbuktu's heritage is un-Islamic.

The red wooden door of the 15th-century Sidi Yahya Mosque in Timbuktu—10 feet high and 12 feet long and, due to its age, held together by bits of wire—was decorated in the Morrocan style with metal stars and moons embedded in the wood. The legend went that, if it was ever opened, it would signal the end of the world.

Last week, Islamist separatists affiliated with al Qaeda tore down the door and demolished the tombs of several revered Muslim saints.

And for many in the West African nation of Mali, it felt like the world had come to an end. The destruction by the group known as Ansar Dine is eerily reminiscent to the events in Afghanistan in 2001, when the Taliban blew up the revered Buddhas of Bamiyan.

“The two events are very similar,” UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, Francesco Bandarin, told The Daily Beast. “They are the cultural destruction and desecration by armed extreme Islamic groups that have seized power.”

In January, the secular Tuareg separatist group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), started a revolt against the Bamako-based government and by March had control over the country’s entire northern territory. But in April, after a military coup in Bamako, Islamist groups—most notably, Ansar Dine, which has aligned itself with al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb—took over most areas held by the MNLA. Unlike the MNLA, Ansar Dine wants to institute Sharia. The Islamist group comprises a small foreign group of fighters, who, according to former deputy assistant secretary for Africa at the State Department Todd Moss, number “in the hundreds, not the thousands,” though they are well trained and well funded.

And in a few short months, they have wreaked havoc in Mali.

Since the April coup, 230,000 people are reported to have fled the country while more than 155,000 have become internally displaced. In the past, Mali, like Afghanistan, has been ignored by the West, presenting an opening for al Qaeda strategists who see opportunity in places of poverty, chaos, and weak governance. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé has been warning of the “expanding terrorism threat” in the area.

Paula Froelich on how she witnessed the beginning of rising tension between local tribes and the government in Mali. The presence of Ansar Dine in Mali won’t be tolerated by either the West or the African Union, predicted Bandarin of UNESCO. “This is a sign of things to come. I can’t predict anything but…a military intervention is very possible.” Moss, now the vice president for programs at the Center for Global Development, agrees that the situation is “extremely fluid” and that the international community won’t allow al Qaeda–affiliated groups to establish a safe haven in Mali. “If that means war from the air, that’s what it means,” he said. (The United States has already dispatched a small number of special forces. But Moss said he didn’t believe that the U.S. or France would put a significant number of troops on the ground.)

While the West and Africa try to figure out what is to be done, the treasures of Timbuktu continue to be destroyed—and many fear the historic libraries full of ancient manuscripts will be destroyed or pillaged next. “Malian Islamic scholars have worked for years protect them, with foreign backing,” Bandarin said. “I have no idea what has happened with the manuscripts so far, but the situation can change very rapidly. These are valuable goods and can be pillaged. We have warned all surrounding countries to watch for stolen goods, but the borders [of Mali] are huge, in the middle of nowhere and not patrolled. The manuscripts are at high risk of being of lost.” People in Mali—both in the north and in the south—are appalled at the foreign fighters and their (few) local converts, whom many consider thugs.

For many in the West African nation of Mali, it felt like the world had come to an end.

“The al Qaeda presence has destroyed the economy and made it unsafe for tourists,” said Guy Lankester, an African blogger, who has organized tours in Mali for years via his West African travel company, From Here 2 Timbuktu. “All the big hotels in Mali are closing down…and everyone’s getting laid off. Businesses are closing and people are selling off whatever they can to survive.”

Lankester said that many of his Tuareg employees have left Timbuktu, Gao, and the surrounding cities. “Anyone who has the means has left northern Mali.”

One employee, a Tuareg named Mamiti, was kidnapped and beaten by Islamists after trying to protect the Hounde Hotel, a women’s cooperative, owned by a French partnership. “The MNLA freed him,” Lankester said. “But he had to leave Timbuktu very shortly afterwards. All the men in the area were being press ganged and conscripted into joining the MNLA or Ansar Dine. Unfortunately, Ansar Dine’s ranks have grown because they are offering payment to people while the MNLA is not.” Ansar Dine and al Qaeda in the Mahgreb, he said, are basically “contraband bandits who got in with the Salafists—they are controlled by the big drug smugglers in the region. It’s basically a load of hooligans awash in arms.” Still, some worry that an intervention might bring more trouble.

“It would create even bigger risks for heritage,” Bandarin said. “I’m worried there could be fights that endanger even more. We can’t do anything here. We see this important place going into rubble at the hands of these crazy people.” Like The Daily Beast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates all day long. Paula Froelich is the New York Times bestselling author of the debut novel, Mercury in Retrograde. Previously at Page Six, Entertainment Tonight, and The Insider, she is now blogging for the Sundance Channel, working on her next novel, a radio show, a TV show, and other projects.

Report: Little Girls Being Forced into Temporary ‘‘Summer Marriages’’ With Wealthy Tourists in Egypt

Jul 15, 2012. Alarabiya News

Wealthy Arab tourists from Gulf countries are paying money to purchase under-age Egyptian girls as “summer-brides”, claims a new report on human trafficking released by the U.S. State Department.

The marriages are not legally binding and end when the men return to their home countries.

According to the report “Trafficking in Persons”, often times these temporary marriages are facilitated by the girls’ parents who profit from the transaction.

According to Britain’s The Daily Mail, the wealthy tourists pay an amount to poor families through intermediaries, ranging from anywhere between $495 and $4,950.The young victims, some under the age of 18, are then forced to serve as sex slaves as well as servants to their “husbands.”

Egypt has laws in place that aim to combat human trafficking which prevent foreigners from marrying an Egyptian woman if there is more than ten years age difference, but marriage brokers have found a way around that by forging birth certificates to make the girls appear older and the men younger.

These contracts also eliminate any potential problems with hotels and land lords who may demand to see proof of marriage before allowing a couple to stay in a room together, since pre-marital sex is prohibited in Islam.

In many cases, the family agrees to marry their daughter without her consent, but often the girls are willing participants as they see it as the only way to help provide for their families.

In some cases the men take the Egyptian girls back to their home country to work as maids for their first wives. But even the girls who stay in Egypt do not fare much better since they often become ostracized by society and find it difficult to re-marry in the traditional way, particularly if the “summer marriage” resulted in a child.

Many of the young women end up in a cycle of temporary marriages with Gulf tourists, and others are targeted by Egyptian men who marry them in order to force them into prostitution.

Many abandon the child out of shame, either to orphanages or leaving them to join the hundreds of thousands of street children that already exist in Egypt.

Dr. Hoda Badran, who chairs the NGO Alliance for Arab Women, explained to the Sunday Independent that poverty is the main factor behind this phenomenon.

“If those families are in such a need to sell their daughters you can imagine how poor they are. Many times, the girl does not know she is marrying the husband just for the short term. She is young, she accepts what her family tells her, she knows the man is going to help them. If the girl is very poor, sometimes it is the only way out to help the family survive,” she told the newspaper.

The report by the State department said Egypt is making significant efforts to eliminate human trafficking, but due to the political unrest in the country over the past year, the government is unable to provide law enforcement and prosecution data on those efforts.

Furthermore, it said Egypt is continuing to develop strategies to implement a comprehensive action plan to address all aspects on trafficking.

In 2009, a court in Egypt’s second largest city Alexandria jailed two registrars for conducting temporary marriages of hundreds of underage girls, however NGOs say that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and that more needs to be done to implement existing laws.

Donor Dollars aiding political repression in Ethiopia

16 July 2012. By Graham Peebles

An ideological poison is polluting all life within Ethiopia, flowing into every area of civil society. Local governance, urban and rural neighbourhoods, farming, education and the judiciary all are washed in Revolutionary Democracy’, the doctrine of the ruling party. Human Rights Watch (HRW) in their detailed report ‘Development without Freedom’ (DWF) quote Ethiopia’s Prime Minister for the last twenty years Meles Zenawi explaining that “when Revolutionary Democracy permeates the entire society, individuals will start to think alike and all persons will cease having their own independent outlook. In this order, individual thinking becomes simply part of collective thinking because the individual will not be in a position to reflect on concepts that have not been prescribed by Revolutionary Democracy.” A society of automatons is the EPRDF vision, The Borg Collective in the Horn of Africa, men women and children of the seventy or so tribal groups of Ethiopia all dancing to one repressive tune sung by the ruling EPRDF.

Dollars and nonsense

Ethiopia receives around $3 billion dollars in long-term development aid each year (second only to Indonesia); this is more than a third of the country’s total annual budget. Funds and resources donated to support the needy, in the hands of the Zenawi regime are being employed as a means of manipulating the Ethiopian people along partisan ideological lines. HRW states in DWF, “the Ethiopian government is using development aid as a tool of political repression by conditioning access to essential government services on support for the ruling party.”

The EPRDF has complete control of funds donated to Ethiopia by the Development Assistance Group (DAG), a consortium of the main donors, including the World Bank, USA, the European Commission and Britain. The government holds the purse strings of every dollar and cent allocated for the four major areas of development work: Protection of Basic Services (PBS), the Productive Safety Net Programme, Public Sector Capacity Building and the General Education Quality Improvement.

The largest single donor is the USA, which in 2011 according to US state department figures “provided $847 million in assistance, including more than $323 million in food aid.” The European Commission gives 400 million and Britain, via the Department Foreign Investment and Development (DFID) has committed £331million ($516million) per year until 2015. The British taxpayers’ pounds according to DFID “will meet the needs of the very poorest and support proven results-driven programmes that will bring healthcare, education and water to millions of people.” Well intentioned perhaps, however in attempting to ‘meet the needs of the very poorest’, as DFID claim, HRW research found that all international development aid, “flows through, and directly supports, a virtual one-party state with a deplorable human rights record, [whose] practices include jailing and silencing critics and media, enacting laws to undermine human rights activity, and hobbling the political opposition.” Facts well known to donors, who are content it seems to allow, indeed support the politicization of aid, a catalogue of human rights violations and the widespread suppression of the people,forced to live in an ideological straight jacket fastened tight by agents of the Zenawi government, at national, regional and community level.

Conditional support

The EPRDF controls all areas of government and civil society in Ethiopia, from the judiciary to the classroom, the media to the farm, telecommunication and the banks. Its reach into urban neighborhoods and rural communities was greatly increased before the 2008 elections, when the number of seats in the woreda and kebele were expanded from 15 to 300. Only the EPRDF was able to field candidates in all councils and with opposition parties largely boycotting the unfair elections, the EPRDF ‘won’ over 99.9% of the seats, meaning as HRW state “the ruling party had total control of the rural majority of the Ethiopian population.”

Through the regional offices of the woreda and kebele the government exercises its ability to control ordinary rural and urban Ethiopians; it is here that the administration of daily life takes place. Local offices approve or reject, applications from farmers for seeds and fertilizer, decide on micro credit support, distribute food to the needy (10 – 20 million rely on food aid), allocate education and employment opportunities, issue business permits and ID cards. The result, as HRW state is “state/party officials have significant influence over the livelihoods of citizens.” An understatement, in fact they govern all aspects of life, within the city or the village, for the teacher or the judge, the women seeking to start a small business, or the Mother desperate to feed her family. All are at the mercy of government officials.

Emergency food relief is given as part of the PBS program, a highly expensive complex development scheme, which assigns around $1 billion a year reports HRW, in a “block grant to the federal government,” they disperse the funds through their kebele’s and woreda offices. Distribution is based not on need, but on political association, support the opposition groups in Ethiopia and find your name scratched from the food aid list and go hungry, HRW found “the partisan allocation of food aid, [is] a problem that has been anecdotally reported in many areas and over many years in Ethiopia, especially in recent years in Somali region.” Such political discrimination of food aid distribution is not only immoral; it is in violation of international law. Farmers who Express dissent towards the government have the agricultural seeds and fertilizer needed to grow crops for their family and community withheld, voice concern over local governance as a teacher and find your career destroyed and your job taken away. HRW found “the EPRDF controls every woreda in the country, and can discriminate against any household or kebele within these administrative areas.” Given such repressive illegal actions it is inexplicable that the DFID in its Plan For Ethiopia (PFE) state the government shows “a strong commitment to fight corruption.” What the EPRDF shows is a strong commitment to suppress dissent, silence all critical voices and control the people utterly.

Big Ethiopian brother

Ethiopia is a one party state, with no freedom of speech, or assembly nor freedom of the media and where opposition forces critical of the government are silenced in the most brutal fashion. It is puzzling then, that the DFID (PFE) states, “Ethiopia has also made some progress toward establishing a functioning democracy,” It is certainly not an image of democracy recognizable to anyone who holds human rights and freedom of expression central to such an ideal and is contradicted by USAID’s statement in its Strategy Plan for Ethiopia where they acknowledge the“$13 million+ that USAID/Ethiopia invested between 2006 and 2010 specifically to promote democratic transition produced little in the way of tangible results, and specific programs have been the subject of stalling and even outright hostility.” The DFID however, go on to compound the misrepresentation asserting, “Ethiopia has achieved a strong degree of political stability through decentralized regional government.” If by ‘stability’ the DFID mean lack of popular resistance to imposed governance, through the fearful subjugation of the people, then yes this the EPRDF has succeeded in doing.

Opposition to the government is not tolerated nor is there decentralized governance, as Thomas Staal, USAID Mission Director to Ethiopia recently stated, and “the [Ethiopian] government wants to be able to control political space very carefully The kebele, woreda and sub kebele’s are extensions of central government, carrying out the divisive partisan policies of the EPRDF, the sole expression of democratic principles in Ethiopia are those found within constitutional articles, that sit neatly filed upon ministerial shelves, collecting dust, as HRW make clear “democracy [is] a hollow concept in a country steered by a powerful party-driven government in which the distinction between party and state is almost impossible to define.” And In their report “One Hundred Ways of Putting Pressure Violations of Freedom of Expression and Association in Ethiopia“ HRW echo USAID’s comment, observing that “despite the lip service given to democracy and human rights, respect for core civil and political rights such as freedom of expression and association in Ethiopia is deteriorating.” DFID officials it seems have been duped by a plethora of conformist federal laws and signatures to multiple international treatises, into accepting the word of a government that terrifies its people and tramples on international human rights law.

Partisan monitoring

Not only are all key development programs implemented by the EPRDF, but also monitoring is also undertaken in partnership with government agencies. Objective accurate monitoring is essential in determining the effectiveness of development programs; it is difficult to see how unbiased data can be collected under such highly restrictive circumstances. HRW makes the point that “donors should recognize that Ethiopia’s own accountability systems are moribund, and that the principal barrier to detecting distortion is the Ethiopian government.” Their view that independent monitoring “is needed (without the participation of the Ethiopian Government)” is clearly correct and the bare minimum donors should insist on.

In its wisdom however, the DFID – a key donor, whilst recognizing the importance of monitoring appears happy to rely on the Ethiopian government, in which they naively invest such trust. They plan to “continue to monitor progress using national data drawn from administrative and survey sources,” i.e. the Ethiopian government. This demonstration of neglect by the DFID is an abdication of duty not only to British taxpayers, but also to the people of Ethiopia, who the EPRDF, with the help of international donors, continue to suppress and intimidate. They cannot and should not be trusted, HRW Deputy Director Jan England’s Open Letter to DFID Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell makes this plain, “the Ethiopian government is extremely resistant to scrutiny the British government and other donors to Ethiopia should not allow the Ethiopian government to dictate the terms on which British public money is monitored, and every effort should be made to prevent British development aid from strengthening authoritarian rule and repression.”

Ideological imposition

At the core of the EPRDF’s suppression and disregard for human rights is an ideological obsession. Revolutionary Democracy. Evangelical party political indoctrination takes place in within schools, teacher training institutions, the civil service and the judiciary. All contrary to international law, the Ethiopian constitution and federal laws, composed to conform to universal legal standards, conveniently cited by politician and diplomats, ignored and unenforced they mean nothing to the people.

School children above grade 10 (aged 15/16 years) are required to attend training sessions in the party ideology, policies on economic development, land sales and education. Admission to university, although not legally the case is implicitly dependent upon membership of the party, HRW found “students were under the impression that they needed party membership cards to gain admission to university.” The EPRDF stamp is also required to secure government jobs after graduation. All teachers, civil servants and judges are under pressure to tow the party line, to join the EPRDF and follow its doctrine, failure to do so impacts on employment and career prospects. Ethiopia’s largest donor, the USA, in the State Department human rights country report for 2011 notes, “Students in schools and universities were indoctrinated in the core precepts of the ruling EPDRF party’s concept of “revolutionary democracy…. the ruling party “stacks” student enrolment at Addis Ababa University… Authorities did not permit teachers at any level to deviate from official lesson plans and actively prohibited partisan political activity and association of any kind.”

Educational brainwashing of course contravenes the Ethiopian constitution, which clearly states in Article 90/2 “Education shall be provided in a manner that is free from any religious influence, political partisanship or cultural prejudice.” Words, righteous and legally binding are of no concern to Zenawi, his ministers, foreign diplomats and the cadres or spies who patrol the city neighbourhoods, university campus and civil service offices, infiltrate villages and towns of rural Ethiopia intimidating and blackmailing the people. International donors however, should be deeply concerned and take urgent actions to stop such violations of national and international law and the politicisation of aid distribution including emergency food relief.

Mixed Motives distorted action

Western governments reasons for providing development aid to Ethiopia are both humanitarian and strategic, USAID in its country plan, calls Ethiopia “the most strategically important partner in the region,” and the DFID states, “Ethiopia matters to the UK for a range of development, foreign policy and security reasons.”

Regional stability and the ‘fight against terrorism’ is cited as justification for continuing to support the EPRDF, in spite of extensive human rights abuses, the partisan distribution of aid and state terrorism. In fact, far from bringing stability to the area, the Zenawi regime is a cause of instability, this Anna Gomez makes plain “the Al-Shabab militia [Islamist group in Somalia] have only grown stronger [emphasis mine] and survival has been made more difficult since Ethiopian troops invaded in 2006, at the behest of George W. Bush.”

With conflicting interests, some might say corrupt and corrupting, donor countries find themselves funding a deeply repressive violent regime, enabling a coordinated policy of ideological indoctrination to take place, as HRW found “the government has used donor-supported programs, salaries, and training opportunities as political weapons to control the population, punish dissent, and undermine political opponents” Western donors silence and complicity in the face of such violations of international law is as Anna Gomez rightly says in the Bureau of Investigative Journalism 4th August 2011 “letting down all those who fight for justice and democracy and increasing the potential for conflict in Ethiopia and in Africa.”

The politicization and manipulation of aid distribution by the EPRDF violates international law and all standards of moral decency. Those providing aid must take urgent action to ensure this illegal practice comes to an end. Donors are well aware of the human rights abuses taking place, but have turned a blind eye to the repression of civil and political rights and a deaf ear to the cries of the many for justice and freedom. Western governments silence amounts to collusion; it is a gross misuse of taxpayer’s money and a betrayal, of international human rights laws and the Ethiopian people.

Graham is Director of The Create Trust, a UK registered charity, supporting fundamental social change and the human rights of individuals in acute need.

Somalia Telecoms: Cashless doesn't mean broke

By Mark Anderson in Hargeisa. Posted 02 May 2012. -cashless-doesn-t-mean-broke-501810552.html

Somaliland's mobile money-transfer system, Zaad, has gained hundreds of thousands of customers, bringing convenience to a territory that lacks a formal banking system, but not potential customers

The money transfer system is used by shops, hotels, market stalls – and even qat sellers/Photo/Mark Anderson Flicking through a stack of dirty Somaliland shillings after coming up short to pay for a car wash, Asad Egeh, a legal advisor, asks: "Does anyone have 2,000 shillings?" Unperturbed by the lack of response, he takes out his phone and in just a few seconds transfers SSh2,000 ($0.30) into the seven-year-old car washer's Zaad account.

Zaad is a mobile money-transfer service offered by Telesom, the self-declared country's largest network operator. Telesom has 500,000 subscribers, and it estimates that 40 percent of the territory's population has a mobile phone. About 306,000 Somalilanders use Zaad, which was first launched in May 2009.

With a population of around 3.5 million, Somaliland has no formal banking sector. The country's parliament is in the process of passing legislation that will establish a central bank, paving the way for commercial banks to set up shop. According to lawmakers, the legislature is due to pass the Commercial Banking Act within the next six to 12 months.

Somaliland's Zaad service is not the same one that has attracted the attention of United Nations investigators in Somalia. UN Security Council Resolution 1844 identified ZAAD, a rival service operated in Somalia by Hormuud Telecom, as a possible fundraising channel for the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab, which controls much of southern Somalia. The 17 February resolution calls for an asset freeze and travel ban on prominent Somali businessman Ali Ahmed Nur Jim'ale, who the UN says has used Hormuud Telecom's ZAAD to send money to the Islamist group.

Abdikarim Mohamed Eid, Telesom's managing director, is keen to emphasise the difference between the two firms. "Zaad is owned by Telesom, so it's not going to affect us because we have no relationship with Puntland or south Somalia, we are focused on Somaliland," he says. "Telesom is owned by a group of around 1,000 Somaliland-based shareholders."

The power of Zaad can be seen on the streets of Somaliland's capital, Hargeisa. Shops, market stalls, restaurants and hotels all use Zaad. Sellers of the drug qat accept payment through Zaad. Telesom, the mobile telephone network used by Zaad, pays its employees through the service.

No more bundles

In a territory with a gross domestic product estimated at $1bn, the $700m attributed to remittances from the diaspora in 2010 is big business. Zaad levies a 4-5 percent service charge on transactions, which changes depending on the amount transferred. "Zaad grants banking access to populations without financial services," says Abdikarim.

According to Laura Hammond, team leader of a recent UN Development Programme report on the role of the Somali diaspora, Zaad has grown in significance: "It's attractive primarily because it's secure and relieves people from the necessity of having to carry around bundles of cash."

The service limits standard users to transfers of $500, while merchants are allowed to transfer up to $2,000 at a time. 'Special arrangements' are made for its wealthier users, depending on the amount in their bank accounts.

Somaliland's finance minister Mohamed Hashi says that the service evades taxation. "Zaad makes things easier, it really helps. But we haven't been able to control the Zaad and the telecommunications systems because we have neither the equipment nor the expertise," says Hashi.

This article was first published in the April 2012 edition of The Africa Report, on sale at newsstands, via our]print subscription.

Somalia: Somaliland Ban Political Demonstrations

2 May 2012.

Mogadishu — After opposition leaders were arrested in Hargeisa, the Somaliland government banned all political demonstrations, Radio Garowe reports.

On Tuesday 3 officials from 3 different political parties were arrested by a special response team that were organized to break up the protests on before they began. The officials who were Ali Borsed deputy leader of the Democratic party, Fowzia Haji Aden leader of the NDB and leader of the Jamhuriya party Mohamed Odawa. The leaders were released a few hours after the arrest.

The arrests of the opposition leaders comes after the Somaliland electoral commission rejected their right to register their political parties on April 20. Fowzia Haji, who spoke to media after her release said she and the other leaders asked for approval from the Ministry of Interior to stage a peaceful protest, but were refused and weren't informed as to why the request were denied. Protests in Buroa were also foiled by Somaliland authorities.

The Vice President Abdirahman Abdillahi Ismail attended a government meeting with clan elders in Hargeisa on Tuesday. According to Hargeisa local media clan elders and government officials agreed upon 5 issues, 'anyone caught engaging with Somalia will be charged with treason,' was one issued agreed upon by the officials. Vice President Ismail at the meetings said, "All individuals or tribal grouping meetings with Somalia are banned."

According to Hargeisa media the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mohamed Nur Araale who spoke at the meeting with clan leaders in Hargeisa, said that the state is keeping a close eye on politicians, and he ordered the police commissioner to monitor politicians plotting to divide the breakaway region.

Last month the former deputy chairman of the majority ruling party Kulmiye was forced out of a party convention and was removed of his title.

Drill for oil in Somalia? Why not, says Australian firm

Australia-based Jacka Resources plans to start oil exploration in Somaliland, a region of Somalia that declared itself independent in 1991. Nice work if you can get it.

By Scott Baldauf, Staff writer / April 30, 2012.

Let's say it’s a country that is not recognized by any other country, so all business has to be conducted either in off-shore accounts or in cash. On land, militant groups fight against the government and take the occasional foreign aid worker hostage. At sea, pirates attack and capture freighters, tankers, and even pleasure boats. Most food in the local economy comes from foreign donations, because the region is prone to conflict and famine.

Would you invest in such a country?

Australia’s Jacka Resources gas and oil exploration company would. And if you guessed that the country is Somalia, you’re very close. The country is Somaliland, which declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991, and has remained a functioning, but unrecognized, independent republic ever since. Much safer and more stable than its eastern and southern neighbor, Somaliland also sits in a geological zone where oil is likely to occur, and it recently awarded its first oil concessions to foreign oil prospecting companies.

Jacka Resources – which has also successfully explored oil in Uganda’s Lake Albert – will begin seismic tests, gravity tests, and exploratory drilling soon in the 22,000 square kilometer Habra Garhajis block in southwestern Somaliland, where oil has been found to seep to the surface in at least nine separate locations.

Jacka chairman Scott Spencer said that his company looked forward to working together with Petrosoma, a Somali affiliate of Prime Resources Limited, on exploring the Habra Garhajis block, which he says has “enormous potential.”

Jacka is not alone. The Somaliland government has also signed exploration agreements with London-listed company Ophir Energy, Asante Oil, and Prime Resources, which owns Petrosoma.

Whether this newfound economic activity is a good thing or not probably depends on one’s outlook. For many Somalilanders, any form of investment is a good thing, creating the possibility of new local jobs both with the oil prospectors and with the transportation, housing, restaurants, and other service-industry business that would potentially do business with Jacka Resources.

Mohammed Yusuf Ali, chairman and chief executive officer of both Prime Resources and Petrosoma, said, “this is a great day for all Somalilanders,” adding, “all Somalilanders will benefit if we discover oil in this block.”

But oil is not always a blessing for a poor country emerging from conflict.

In Nigeria, oil revenues are one of the biggest sources of corruption for government officials. It's one of the major sources of tension between citizens and their government, and between regions that have oil and those that don’t. Oil discovered along poorly demarcated international borders is especially problematic, as the current fighting between Sudan and South Sudan shows.

The shaky transitional government of Somalia has already complained about Kenya’s discovery of offshore oil in waters claimed by Somalia, a matter that Somalian Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullahi Haji called “a territorial argument that came after oil and gas companies became interested in the region,” in an interview with Reuters.

The notion that oil is a curse is a bit overdone, of course.

Some countries with strong legal systems, such as Britain, Norway, and Ghana, manage to squeeze a bit of benefit out of the oil trade with little negative effect. Other countries, such as Angola, Nigeria, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan, and South Sudan are not so fortunate.

But for Somaliland, simply having a conversation about the possible downsides of an oil-based economy is a discussion – and even a curse – worth having.

What is Khatumo State?

A Special Report on SSC Region of Northern Somalia

By JD 04/26/2012

Somalia's Khatumo state consists of Sool, Sanaag and Ayn (SSC) located between the semi-autonomous region of Puntland and the breakaway state of Somaliland. Its aim is to create an independent administration in the northern region of Somalia. Unlike Somaliland, it does not seek complete autonomy and is willing to unite with the rest of Somalia under a federal government structure and still flies the Somali flag.

Sool and Sanaag regions have been highly disputed by both parties and have been exposed to numerous clashes between Puntland and Somaliland. SSC is the product of the efforts of residents of Sool, Sanaag and Ayn regions who sought to create their own administration. They are largely members of the Dulbahante sub-clan of the Harti (Darod) who dominate these regions.

Efforts to set up this independent administration, beginning in 2007, have been ongoing and eventually resulted in a cornerstone meeting in Taleh in December of last year where Khatumo was officially declared. In January, a second conference was held in Taleh where prominent politicians, traditional leaders and more residents debated the issue. On January 12, 2012, the state of Khatumo was finalized after involved parties agreed that an independent administration would allow for development and stability of the regions.

In their own words

To learn more, Somalia Report interviewed Khatumo officials, including President Abdinour Elmi Qaaje (Biindhe) and Garaad Jama Garaad, a traditional leader of the Dhulbahante clan.

They explained that the name 'Khatumo' is derived from the Arabic word which implies a ‘positive conclusion.’ Officials stated that their objective is to end or eliminate the problems of the region with their own administration and leadership.

The officials explained the borders of their new state to our correspondent. The western border is Labida, 20km from Buro. The northern border is Jiidale, a small village in Erigavo area. To the east lies Yooada which is near Garowe and on the west is Buhoodle in Ayn region which shares a border with Ethiopia.

Despite their claim over these boundaries, the new administration is only established in Ayn region, and some areas in Sool while Somaliland still controls Las-Anod city which is the capital of Sool. Khatumo officials hope to replace the Somaliland and Puntland troops from all the regions as they prepare independent forces and security to take control of their areas.

Sool region which includes Xudun, Bocame and Las Anod districts. Ayn region has Buhoodle, Horufadhi and Widhwidh districts while Sanaag region consists of Erigavo District, Fuqi-Fuliye and Awrbogeys districts.

These districts are not what was originally set up by the Somali Central Government in the 1990s but Khatumo officials insist that they were identified and awaiting approval by the concerned officials before the collapse of the Siad Barre regime.

Founders of Khatumo State

Traditional leaders and politicians from the regions worked together to create the new administration after long discussions with the people of Khatumo state who met in Khatumo and abroad among Somalia Diaspora. Khatumo 1 and 2 conferences were the final meetings, which culminated into the declaration and creation of Khatumo.

Somalia’s former Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galaydh, of the Dhulbahante clan played a key role in the creation of Khatumo. He attended a series of meetings until the final Taleh conference. Galaydh is not part of the administration, but is lobbying for the support of the new administration. He was involved in the process which granted Khatumo a mandate from the TFG. Galaydh was part of the administration of President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan in 2000.

Among the elders and traditional leaders, Garaad Jama Garaad is an influential leader who worked hard for the establishment of Khatumo. He played the key role of advising and negotiating with the residents of Khatumo to seek their own leadership and administration.

Structure of Khatumo Administration

The structure of Khatumo state is rather different from other semi-autonomous regions or states as it has three presidents and four councils that are establishing key governing sectors.

Three Presidents of Khatumo

Ahmed Elmi Osman (Karaash)
Mohamed Yusuf Jama (Indhosheel)
Abdinuur Elmi Qaaji (Biindhe)


- Supreme council of traditional leaders
- Executive council (Known as G10 or Group 10)
- Presidential council with three presidents and ministers
Parliament council which is still in progress

In this unique set up, the three leaders will govern for 18 months and in line with a power sharing deal. Most decisions affecting the regions are made after consultation. For a period of six months, each one of them will be a chairman and represent the rest. This post will rotate for 18 months after which parliament will be established and elections announced. The three leaders are members of the Dulbahante which is the largest clan in all the regions.

Khatumo officials believe that the three president set up allows any potential leader to adequately showcase their skills and achieve more for the country through concerted efforts. Currently, President Ahmed Elmi Osman is the chair and official president and on his six month term.

Two of the three presidents are well known in the region and have worked with other administrations as ministers. President Ahmed Eli Osman was formerly the Puntland Minister for Aviation in 2009. President Abdinur Elmi Qaaji was the Minister for sports for former Puntland administration which was led by Adde Musse Hirsi. President Mohamed Yusuf Jama is a member of the Diaspora.

Khatumo Ministers

Hussien Saleebaan Haji Ahmed, Minister for International Relations and Diaspora
Mohamed Ducaale Abdi, Minister for Security
Osman Ahmed Jeex, Minister for Finance
Abdikariim Farah Dhaaye, Minister for Development and Natural Resources
Mohamoud Diiriye Abdi Joof, Minister for Social Services
Yasiin Ahmed Sulub, Minister for Interior Affairs

Deputy Ministers of Khatumo State

Hasan Ali Jama, First Deputy Minister for International Relations Farduus Mohamed Mire, Second Deputy Minister for
International Relations
Jama Hassan Khaliif, Deputy Minister for Security
Ibraahim Mohamoud Guure, Deputy Minister for Development and Natural Resources
Abdi Farah Mahad, Second Deputy Minister for Development and Natural Resources
Hassan Muse Awl, First Deputy Minister for Interior Affairs
Abshir Abdi Shiekh, Second Deputy Minister for Interior Affairs
Abdifatah Osman Dhala, First Deputy Minister for Social Affairs
Asia Hassan Jama, First Deputy Minister for Social Affairs
Ibrahim Jama Garab-Yare, First Deputy Minister for Finance
Mowliid Mohamud Salah, Second Deputy Minister for Finance

Khatumo Government Officials

Mukhatar Ibraahim Habashi, Chief of Cabinet
Omar Jama Saleebaan, Spokesman for Khatumo State

Security In Khatumo

The administration’s priority is security of the region which was previously disputed with some parts under the enforced control of Somaliland. These areas will have to be regained by force as the administration works on establishing stability in Ayn and Sool regions.

A number of Khatumo officials told Somalia Report that they have prepared troops and are recruiting more since the declaration of the state in January of this year. They were unwilling to provide exact numbers of their soldiers. President Abdinour informed Somalia Report of the existence of military and police forces that operate within their regions. The state administration pays for their salaries without foreign support. President Abdinour expressed his confidence in the security forces who he said are well trained and armed. The members of the forces were previously involved in military operations against Somaliland’s troops.

Khatumo administration has a lot of local support especially among the Dhulbahante clan and others in the region. However, the new state is under siege by Somaliland and Puntland administrations that have always fought for control of the region. The testy issues of resource allocation through the TFG in the form of scholarships, finances and security for the northern regions of Somalia means Puntland now has to compete with Khatumo and is not in a position to manage such aid on behalf of the TFG.

Inadequate Infrastructure

The newly declared state severely lacks infrastructure and this poses a great challenge for the Khatumo administration. Water supply, health facilities, transportation and communication networks do not exist in Khatumo. According to Khatumo officials, only two international aid agencies operate minimally in parts of Khatumo.

Airport - The new state urgently requires an airport to provide an income for the region and officials are looking at ways to implement the plan. Khatumo officials currently use other airports located in neighboring regions for official travel as they plan on the construction of Taleh airport which is currently under construction and near completion, according to the president and officials. The administration currently relies on support from the Diaspora and some taxes from residents of Khatumo for state income.

Seaport - Sool and Ayn regions do not have a coastline. Sanaag region which has a coastline and the Las-Qoray port is largely populated by the Warsangeli clan who are loyal to the Puntland administration. Clan allegiances will make it extremely difficult for the budding Khatumo administration to establish a seaport in this area or make good use of the Las Qoray port.

Interview with the President of Khatumo

In our efforts to learn more about the newly declared semi-autonomous state, Somalia Report interviewed the current chairing President of Khatumo, Abdinour Elmi Qaaje (Biindhe).

Why was the state created?

SSC finally became Khatumo state. The Dhulbahante and other people who live in these regions decided to create their own administration after Somaliland took control of some areas in these regions. Somaliland inclusive of our region was colonized by the British in the past. After independence and the civil war in Somalia, Somaliland sought autonomy and this did not bode well with us. We are not willing to be a breakaway state or separated from the rest of the Somali people. Therefore, they (Somaliland) attacked us and took control of some of our regions. That is the main reason why we created this administration. Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) allows a minimum of more than two regions can become a state. We fit the requirement.

Most people believe that Khatumo is made up of people from only from one clan, the Dhulbahante. Is that true and can you give us information in relation to other clans who are part of your administration?

It is not for one clan only. Four big clans are part of Khatumo and they are the Dhulbahante, Faqashini-Ayr, Abdirahman Harti (Kaskiqabe) and Gabooye clans. All clan members live in Sool, Sanaag and Ayn regions.

Did you receive any mandate from the TFG?

We have officially received a mandate from President Shariff and Prime Minister Abdiweli Gaas. We will be a part of Somalia’s upcoming government. We sent four traditional leaders to Mogadishu and they will take part in the selection of lawmakers. The upcoming Somali government will also receive eight lawmakers from our regions who will take part in the constitution approval process. We have a total of 24 members there.

We have established good relations with western nations. Since our arrival in Nairobi, we have met with a number of embassy representatives including the United States who welcomed us and promised to provide support for us. They will work on providing humanitarian aid directly.

There have been reports of water scarcity in the region. What has caused the shortage and what is your administration doing about that?

We are aware of the poor water supply in our regions right now. Somaliland took control of the largest wells from residents including Sool Jogto, Yagoori, Hagoogle and other wells in Kalshaale area. They have barred our residents who live in these areas from using these wells and when droughts affected these regions, the situation was serious. We are not able to dig new wells right now and would prefer to reclaim our wells from Somaliland. That is our plan. In the meantime, we are appealing to international organizations and governments to provide humanitarian aid and support to us directly.

Reporter Detained in Erigabo, Somaliland [Washington] 25 Apr 2012.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) today protested vociferously about persistent measures to suppress journalists by Somaliland authorities after arresting another journalist.

Journalist Abdullahi Hussein Darwish, reporter for Royal TV and Waaheen newspaper, was arrested in Erigabo town of Sanag region in northern Somalia on 24 April 2012. Somaliland police accused Darwish of spreading "false news" without specifying the nature of alleged news. But local journalists believe that he was arrested because of a news report filed about distribution of food in Erigabo. In this report, people who were supposed to receive complained that they were cut off from receiving the food for groundless reasons.

"Somaliland must end current trend of arresting and detaining journalists because of their work. Journalists must be allowed to cover news events without fear of arrest and harassment, including those happening in Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn regions," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

In a separate incident on 24 April, Abdiasis Ahmed Diriye, editor of Simba Radio in Mogadishu was wounded after gunmen attacked where he was sitting with other people in the evening. The armed men wanted to kill a man sitting with Diriye who was consequently wounded by one of the bullets at left leg. The intended victim died on the spot while another person was also wounded in the attack. This was a minor wound and the journalist is currently recuperating at his home.

Editor Wounded in Mogadishu, Reporter Detained in Northern Country [Washington] 25 Apr 2012.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) today protested vociferously about persistent measures to suppress journalists by Somaliland authorities after arresting another journalist.

Journalist Abdullahi Hussein Darwish, reporter for Royal TV and Waaheen newspaper, was arrested in Erigabo town of Sanag region in northern Somalia on 24 April 2012. Somaliland police accused Darwish of spreading "false news" without specifying the nature of alleged news. But local journalists believe that he was arrested because of a news report filed about distribution of food in Erigabo. In this report, people who were supposed to receive complained that they were cut off from receiving the food for groundless reasons.

"Somaliland must end current trend of arresting and detaining journalists because of their work. Journalists must be allowed to cover news events without fear of arrest and harassment, including those happening in Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn regions," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

In a separate incident on 24 April, Abdiasis Ahmed Diriye, editor of Simba Radio in Mogadishu was wounded after gunmen attacked where he was sitting with other people in the evening. The armed men wanted to kill a man sitting with Diriye who was consequently wounded by one of the bullets at left leg. The intended victim died on the spot while another person was also wounded in the attack. This was a minor wound and the journalist is currently recuperating at his home.

Mogadishu, Apr 23, 2012 — The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is deeply concerned about the increased attacks against journalists in northern region following the arrest of TV journalist in Las Anod town of Sool region in Northern Somalia.

Mohamed Shaqale, reporter for Somalisat TV, was arrested on 19 April by Somaliland police in armoured vehicle in the centre of Las Anod, and was immediately taken to CID headquarters where he was reportedly interrogated and currently being detained. The police did not state reason behind the arrest.

"Somaliland authorities in Sool region have accustomed to arrest, intimidate and question journalists owing to their journalistic work," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

On 22 March 2011, Mohamed Shaqale was attacked in Las Anod by Somaliland soldiers for filing reports that the Somaliland army deemed contrary to their forces. Shaqale went into hiding in Las Anod but his laptop computer, camera and recorders were confiscated. His house was in this month searched by police.

"We call for the immediate release of Mohamed Shaqale as there is no lawful reason for his arrest and detention". Added Osman.

Source:National Union of Somali Journalists (Mogadishu)

IFJ Condemns Arbitrary Arrests of Journalists in Northern Somalia

Report—International Federation of Journalists. 23 Apr 2012.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the arrest and detention of two broadcast journalists and persistent acts of intimidation of media professionals in northern Somalia.

“We deeply condemn the continued arbitrary arrests and sustained acts of intimidations of journalists in Somalia, especially disputed regions of Sool and Sanaag,” said Gabriel Baglo IFJ Africa Office Director.

According to National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), an IFJ affiliate, Mohamed Shaqale, a reporter for Somalisat TV in Las Anod city in Sool region, was arrested by Somaliland police on 19 April in armored vehicle in the centre of the district of Las Anod, the headquarters of Sool region. He then was taken to Criminal Investigations Department (CID) where he was reportedly interrogated and currently being detained. The police did not state the reason behind the arrest.

On March 3, 2012, Awke Abdullahi, Director of Radio Voice of Peace in Bossasso was arrested. He is still in detention despite his deteriorating health. On April 13, 2012, Abdweli Hassan Gooni, NUSOJ Coordinator in Puntland was arrested before being released on 16 April.

“Press freedom is a critical issue in Somaliland and Puntland controlled regions where journalists are still harassed and jailed. Somaliland authorities in Sool region are accustomed to arrest, intimidate and question journalists owing to their journalistic work,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “We call for the immediate release of Mohamed Shaqale as there is no lawful reason for his arrest and detention,” he added.

On 22 March 2011, Mohamed Shaqale was attacked in Las Anod by Somaliland soldiers for filing reports that the Somaliland army deemed contrary to their forces. Shaqale went into hiding in Las Anod but his laptop computer, camera and recorders were confiscated. His house was in this month searched by police.

For more information contact the IFJ on +221 33 867 95 86/87 The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries

Somaliland passes central banking law, eyes foreign banks

Mon Apr 23, 2012. By Mark Anderson

HARGEISA, April 23 (Reuters) - Somaliland has passed a law that formally establishes a central bank, and is now poised to pass another to set up commercial banks in a bid to attract foreign lenders to start operating in the self-declared country by 2013.

Somaliland, a breakaway state in the northeast of Somalia, remains unrecognised internationally.

It has no formal banking sector and its people rely heavily on remittances from diaspora communities in Europe, North America and the United Arab Emirates, as there are no ATMs or loan facilities.

"The President has signed the Central Banking Act into law," Abdi Dirir, governor of Somaliland's Central Bank, told Reuters on Monday.

"We are expecting the Commercial Banking Act to be passed in the next three to four months," Dirir said.

Yemeni state-owned bank CAC, Djibouti-based Salaam African Bank, and Banque de Depot de Credit Djibouti, a subsidiary of Switzerland-headquartered Swiss Financial Investments, have all approached Dirir about commencing operations in Somaliland.

"Once the commercial banking laws are in place, we hope investors will be attracted by our free market," Dirir said. (Editing by James Macharia, Ron Askew)

Hargeisa, Somalia: a city rising from the ashes [Brief article]

Author(s): Rachel Henson. Source: World Literature Today. 86.1 (January-February 2012): p5. Document Type: Brief article, Recommended readings

Hargeisa is the second-largest city in Somalia and also the capital of Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia. After being razed to the ground in the late 1980s, an event leading to the Somali civil war, the city of Hargeisa is being reborn. While the city is channeling its energies into reconstruction, the arts are gaining momentum, benefiting from a newfound vitality in the city. Set against a backdrop of ancient cave paintings, the city's cultural scene celebrates all forms of art, new and old.

Poetry is one important facet of Somali culture. The Center for Hadraawi Literature was established in late 2009 to commemorate and house the works of one of Somalia's greatest poets, Mohamed I. Warsame, also known as Hadrawi. Holding workshops, lectures, and seminars for writers as well as reading programs, the center is supporting a growing appreciation for arts in the community.

Also celebrating literature, both locally and worldwide, is the Hargeisa International Book Fair. This festival, sponsored by many Somaliland cultural organizations, completed its fourth year in July 2011. The fair brings in literature, writers, and speakers that address a specific theme. Events include films, panels, book launches, presentations, and discussions.

Though it exists in a time of conflict, the cultural identity of Hargeisa is evolving and getting stronger.

Editorial note: The Autumn 1998 issue of WLT featured Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah.

Books to Read

- Mark Bradbury, Becoming Somaliland: Reconstructing a Failed State (nonfiction)
- Nuruddin Farah, From a Crooked Rib (novel)
- Jama Mohamed Ghalib, The Cost of Dictatorship: The Somali Experience (memoir)
- I. M. Lewis, Milk and Peace, Drought and War: Somali Culture, Society, and Politics (nonfiction)
- Nadifa Mohamed, Black Mamba Boy (novel)

Henson, Rachel

Source Citation: Henson, Rachel. "Hargeisa, Somalia: a city rising from the ashes." World Literature Today 86.1 (2012): 5. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 21 Apr. 2012.

Somalia: Puntland Link Compels Somaliland to Abandon Talks With TFG

21 April 2012. Garowe Online (Garowe)

Mogadishu — Authorities in Somalia's separatist region of Somaliland have abruptly pulled out of proposed dialogue with TFG of Somalia after President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed included two Puntland ministers in the dialogue committee he appointed last week, Radio Garowe reports.

Somaliland Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Omar told a press conference in Hargeisa said that Somaliland would not hold talks with the TFG as long as Puntland officials remain on the committee.

"The dialogue should be between TFG and Somaliland. We see no reason for involvement of Puntland ministers, who hail originally from Somaliland regions. So Somaliland will not engage in these talks," said Minister Omar.

Somaliland's foreign minister went on to add that the appointment of the "two additional ministers from Puntland" had a hidden agenda. Minister Omar claimed that President Sharif "originally appointed five TFG ministers and then issued a second list with seven ministers, including two ministers from Puntland."

Somaliland Minister Omar claims that Puntland Interior Minister Abdullahi Jama Ilkajir and Puntland Planning Minister Daud Mohamed Omar are "from Somaliland regions of Sanaag and Sool." Sanaag and Sool regions, etched between Puntland and Somaliland, are claimed by both Puntland and Somaliland. In the past, Puntland and Somaliland have fought pitched battles for control over Sool and Sanaag regions.

Mogadishu media reported TFG President Sharif appointed a 7-member committee chaired by TFG Interior Minister Abdisamad Moallim Mohamud. The committee includes two Puntland ministers and is mandated with facilitating dialogue between TFG and Somaliland, as recommended by the London Conference of February 2012.

Puntland response

Puntland Planning Minister Daud Mohamed Omar responded to Somaliland's claims during a BBC interview on Friday. Minister Daud said: "Puntland is part of Somalia and shares land with Somaliland so it is very important that Puntland is part of the dialogue."

Minister Daud continued: "Puntland is a state in Somalia and is entitled to representation but Somaliland officials for whatever reasons want to discontinue dialogue and they should rethink their decisions."

Puntland's minister said "Somaliland fears being held to account for the killings, looting and displacement of civilians in Las Anod area." In March, Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole declared that TFG-Somaliland dialogue that excludes Puntland is "illegal and unacceptable."

TFG officials led by President Sharif have not yet responded to Somaliland's decision to pull out of proposed dialogue.

UN Special Representative to Somalia Augustine Mahiga landed in Hargeisa on Friday and has reportedly held a meeting with Somaliland officials over their decision to cancel proposed dialogue with the TFG committee.

NUSOJ Appalled by the Continued Arbitrary Arrests of Journalists by Somaliland Police in Somaliland's disputed Regions

By: National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) 20/04/2012.

MOGADISHU, Somalia, April 20, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns the continued arbitrary arrests and hunt for journalists following the arrest of TV journalists and NUSOJ Executive committee member in the town of Laas-Anod in Sool region.

Somaliland police arrested Mohamed Shaqale, a correspondent for the Somalisat television, who is also member of the executive committee of the National Union of Somali journalists (NUSOJ), in the town of Laas-Anod, the regional headquarters of Sool region on Thursday 19

April, 2012, around 8:00am Shaqale is still in detention.

Somaliland authorities did not comment on the arrest, but NUSOJ believes that it is part of Somaliland administrations' crack down for independent the media, following the announcement of Khatumo State, an independent state of Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn, which declared independent from Somaliland regions, in January, which Somaliland authorities arrested dozens of journalists and silenced media stations that covered that conference.

“We are appalled by the continued manhunt for journalists who covered the Khatumo 2 conference by the Somaliland police and it is an act to suppress the freedom of expression and follow of information in the regions under their control.” Burhaan Daahir, NUSOJ Supreme Council president said, “We call for the Somaliland administration to immediately release Mr. Shaqale and stop the continued harassment, intimidation, arrests against the journalists aimed at silencing the journalists.”

Last Wednesday, two journalists; Ahmed Ali Farah of Royal Television and Abdisamad keyse, freelance journalist, were released from jail, after spending for more than two weeks in jail.

Somaliland sets new condition on the talks with Somalia’s TFG

April 19th, 2012. (RBC Radio) By; Abdalle Ahmed

The foreign minister of the breakaway administration of Somaliland Mohamed Abdullahi Omar Hargeisa (RBC) The foreign minister of the breakaway administration of Somaliland Mohamed Abdullahi Omar has set new a condition on the recently proposed talks between the transitional government of Somalia TFG and the Somaliland administration, RBC Radio reports.

In a press conference in Hargeisa on Thursday, Mr Omar said that the breakaway region will not hold talks with TFG unless the president of TFG changes to his newly appointed committee for the negotiation.

“Until now Somaliland was ready to communicate with TFG as the talks were specially designated between TFG and Somaliland, but on appointing two members from Puntland region Somaliland will not proceed the talks.” The foreign minister of Somaliland Mohamed Abdullahi Omar said.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed announced on April 15 a ministerial committee comprising seven members which two of them were Puntland officials. The autonomous region of Puntland has already asked to be included in the talks with Somaliland.

“We accepted the talks with Somalia but not with Puntland region therefore we demand from TFG president to remove from the committee the two members from Puntland.” Mr. Omar suggested.

The announcement from Somaliland came as both TFG and Somaliland were getting prepared for holding first face-to-face discussions since 1991 when Somaliland (north Somalia) declared its separation from Somalia.

Political Party opposes committee appointed for talks with Somaliland

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 19 Apr 2012. Shabeelle Media Network website, Mogadishu, in Somali 19 Apr 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

Hiil Qaran political party has condemned planned talks between the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia [TFG] and the Somaliland Administration. A meeting was today held in Mogadishu attended by senior officials of the party which is among a number of political parties in the country. The meeting was also attended by various sections of the population as well as members of the party.

The meeting was first addressed by the Chairman of the party, Ibrahim Ma'alin Mursal who said their party was there to safeguard interests of the Somali people and urged the public to unite and be brotherly to each other. The meeting was also addressed by the party's political leader, Professor Ahmad Ismail Samatar who expressed serious reservations about the committee appointed by the TFG to start talks with the Somaliland administration. This also comes at a time when a number of Somali MPs also opposed committees appointed by both the TFG president and the Somaliland leader to start talks between the two administration.

New radio equipment arrives in Somaliland

BBC Monitoring Africa [London] 18 Apr 2012. Jamhuuriya, Hargeysa, in Somali 18 Apr 12/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC

The Somaliland Ministry of Information has imported radio transmitters whose signal could reach the whole of Somaliland, the independent Somaliland newspaper Jamhuuriya has reported.

The radio equipment, possibly SW transmitters and aerials are currently at the Berbera port and are meant to serve the whole of Somaliland administered regions and neighbouring countries, according to the report.

The report said the building which will house the transmitter is ready and is located inside the information ministry compound in Somaliland's capital, Hargeysa.

Somaliland President Ahmad Muhammad Silanyo had promised two years ago to set up a state-owned SW radio which will reach "the whole country". If launched, this will be the first Somali radio to be heard in most of the northwestern region in 21 years.

Somalia: Loud dispute disrupts ruling party convention in Somaliland

HARGEISA, Somalia Apr 16 2012 (Garowe Online) - Abdirahman Abdulqadir Farah the deputy chairman of the Kulmiye ruling party in Somalia's separatist region of Somaliland was forced out a party convention after other party members voted to remove him from his position, Radio Garowe reports.

Abdirahman Abdulqadir Farah was forced out by guards at the Kulmiye central committee meeting on Sunday after he was refused to rebut accusations of violating Kulmiye party laws and was removed as deputy chairman. Mr. Farah who at one point was forced back into his seat after trying to object to the accusations made.

Mr. Farah complained about his back which was injured while he was forced back into his seat , "I broke my back for this government, for Silanyo and this is how I am treated," screamed Mr. Farah, shortly after the melee he was taken to Al Hayat hospital in Hargeisa.

According to local sources in Hargeisa Mr. Farah was advised not to attend the three day Kulmiye meeting but showed up anyways, top ranking officials disliked Mr. Farah because of his disputes with former party chairman.

Kulmiye was founded by Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo who resigned after he won the election. Mr. Muse Bihi, who was the acting chairman, was confirmed on Sunday as the party's official chairman.

Somaliland, located in northwestern Somalia, unilaterally declared independence in 1991 but has not gained international recognition.

Somaliland: Improved Communications Technology

April 13, 2012.

Google links on email to SMS

A new service has been launched in Somaliland which will provide users with email-to-text message compatibility, and in turn lead to an ease in how people communicate for work and leisure purposes.

Below is an article published by the Somaliland Sun:

Work to provide email-to-mobile service to nearly 1 million mobile subscribers in Somaliland has been completed, officially with Somaliland.

The new service will provide email-to-text message compatibility.

A popular Telesom new service gives users the convenience to access emails via their mobile phones without relying on cyber cafes.

Telesom is preparing to launch the long-awaited service in the next few weeks after partnering with American multinational Internet and software corporation Google to deliver the technology, said Mohamud Hajji Abdirahman, head of Telesom's international department.

Telesom partnered with Google to provide the new service, which will allow Google users to communicate with Telesom customers through free text messages.

Last month, Google representative for Sub-Saharan Africa Divan Lan surveyed Telesom's equipment at company's Hargeisa headquarters ahead of the awaited launch.

Under the partnership, Gmail users worldwide will be able to send email messages to Telesom mobile numbers that can then delivered to the Telesom subscriber via text message. Phone users can then be able to respond via text message as well, converting emails into mobile text messages would allow Telesom users who do not have access to the Internet opportunities to communicate more efficiently.

This frees individuals from constantly searching for cyber-cafés, as it is not always possible to find computer access.

With this service, users will be able to quickly reply to messages because they can carry their phones everywhere.

The service will have a big impact on how people will communicate for work and leisure purposes, said Abdi Osman Ali, an information technology professional in Hargeisa. "It shows the progress Somaliland has been able to achieve in terms of communications [technology]," he said.

The Telesom-Google partnership is important for reasons beyond the text-to-email service they will provide, according to economist Abdirahman Aden Ismail.

Said he "the agreement is significant because it creates a precedent for other big international companies to invest in Somaliland." However he also added "It could lead Telesom to partner with other international companies"

Telesom was founded in 2001 by a group of Somalis, some of whom were living abroad, to provide a wide range of telecommunication services to users in the region.

The company was the first mobile provider to bring the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) standard to Somalia, which allows subscribers to roam, among other features.

Last year, the company introduced the 3G network to Somaliland and now services more than 1 million residents in Somaliland in a estimation.

The company hopes to partner with Google again to develop services that boost the economy and specifically address private-sector needs.

SOMALIA: Clashes in Hargeisa wound five civilians

April 16th, 2012.

The violence between the police and residents in Hargeisa resulted five civilians to be hospitalized for bullet injuries

HARGEISA (RBC) At least five civilians, three of them in serious condition were wounded after armed clashes erupt between Somaliland police and residents in Hargeisa who protested against ban on building illegal houses in the centre of the town, RBC Radio reports.

The clashes broke out on Sunday after the local police attempted to ban from residents in Dumbuluq village setting up new houses in Inji area where the government already issued order of ban.

Armed conflict between the police and the residents urging the ownership of the land has reportedly resulted five civilians to be hospitalized for bullet injuries.

Dozens of people were also detained late on Sunday as other residents begun demonstration in the town deploring the use of force by the police.

Meanwhile the interior minister of Somalia’s breakaway administration of Somaliland Mohamed Arale Dur who reached the place shortly after the clashes ended called for calm as he demanded the residents to return to their homes without violence.

The situation has been calm today as the police were keeping guard on the disputed building.

Somalia: TFG-Somaliland Talks and the Role of Britain

April 15th, 2012. Liban Ahmad.

For the first time since the collapse of state in Somalia in 1991 a committee from Somaliland administration will hold talks in London with a committee from Mogadishu-based Transitional Federal Government (TFG) . The talks were made possible by the British government which organised a conference on Somalia in February. Unlike past reconciliation conferences for stakeholders ( clan representatives), the London talks will be more complex and may bound to fail if the participants and mediators do not pay attention to both core political differences of two groups and the realities obtaining in the ground.

The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia subscribes to the view that political and territorial unity of Somalia is not negotiable. This position has not led the TFG to destabilise Somaliland administration. The TFG president Sharif Ahmed lauded Somaliland for putting its house in order. Somaliland subscribes to the view that it seceded from Somalia in 1991, and backs up its argument with a referendum the government of the late somaliland president Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal ( Somali prime minister 1967-69) conducted in areas under Somaliland administration in 2001, and two presidential elections held in 2002 and 2010. Somaliland uses the concept of sovereignty to attack areas populated by unionists while its television, Somaliland National Television, broadcasts war propaganda in the form of coverage on visits to battlefront ( jiidda) by Somaliland army chief. This belligerent policy has caused wars in Kalshaale and Sooljoogto in Togdheer after Somaliland forces attempted to advance to Buuhoodle district which unionists inhabit.

It is not unionist groups which are attacking Somaliland; it is somaliland forces whose government justifies attacks on the principle of ‘sovereighty’ although the international community recognises the Transitional Federal Government as the government vested with sovereignty of Somalia.

The Somaliland Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation website states : ” The Republic of Somaliland recognises and shall act in conformity with the United Nations Charter and with international law, and shall respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” but Somaliland government’s warmongering and attacks on unionist bases in northern Somalia are in violation of article Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. “ For talks to become a serious attempt at solving complex political problems, Somaliland ought to declare cessation of hostilities and propaganda.

The international community has a leverage to bring the two sides closer to each. This leverage is manifested in the diplomacy of the the international community. It has recognised the TFG as the sole national government for Somalia although the TFG does not rule many parts of the North on one hand, and directly gives Somaliland development aid although Somaliland forces are hell-bent on using sovereignty principle to advance and capture territories under unionists in what was once known as Ex-British Somaliland on the other. Whatever role Britain takes in the talks– mediator or observer–advising Somaliland against secession-based hostility will be a timely intervention in the talks.

SOMALIA: TFG hails Somaliland’s willingness for talks

April 11th, 2012. (RBC Radio) By; Abdalle Ahmed

Mogadishu (RBC) The transitional federal government of Somalia has hailed the announcement from Somaliland president Ahmed Mohamed Siilanyo who said his administration was ready to negotiate with the transitional government in Mogadishu.

Somaliland president has appointed a ministerial committee which comprises 5 ministers to hold discussions with the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) early this month. The first such move by Somaliland since it has unilaterally declared independence from Somali republic in 1992.

“The willingness of peace and brotherhood talks between the transitional government and Somaliland administration is a positive step and I hope it can help resolve the crisis in Somalia and can bring a long lasting peace.” The interim president of Somalia Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said.

“We will soon set up special committee in charge of the negotiation.” President Sharif confirmed.

Somaliland’s decision followed as London conference in February urged the both sides to hold political discussions on the future of the north regions.

Al-Shabaab Subverting Politics in Somaliland?

Al-Shabaab Seen to Adopt Guerilla Tactics and Political Subversion in Somaliland

By ABDI HUSSEIN 04/10/2012.

While al-Shabaab militants now facing defeat in parts of southern and central Somalia and their fighters are fleeing north, the northern population embracing Salafism, also popularly known as 'Wahabism' (see Editor's Note below) has increased. The hardline militant group is quietly gaining a foothold in Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia which seeks independence from southern Somalia.

Since their ouster from southern strongholds in Mogadishu, Beledweyne and Baidoa, al-Shabaab's foreign fighters have allegedly fled to Yemen, due to proximity with Somalia and with alleged support of pirate clans, to join al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), while some of those al-Shabaab's Somali militants who escaped from allied advances in the south have apparently moved to Somaliland and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, both in northern Somalia. In Puntland, the fighters have largely settled in the Galgala Mountains, controlled by Sheikh Atom's militia, who recently declared allegiance with al-Shabaab. Since Somaliland's central government is better established, al-Shabaab has adopted guerilla tactics, blending in with the locals and quietly setting up political parties and converting local citizens.

Locals Radicalized

There definitely are some al-Shabaab members and sympathizers amongst Somaliland's population and even administration, but how many are there and how strong? Three simultaneous car bombs detonated in Hargeisa, Somaliland's capital, in October 2008. This attack killed 28 people in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) compound, the Ethiopian consulate and Somaliland's presidential palace. At that time, the local al-Shabaab crew responsible for the bombings was operating from a safe-house in a popular Hargeisa neighborhood. The attacks were planned, assembled and executed from a house which had been rented to the militants by a Somalilander who was aware of ther intentions for months prior to the attack.

One of the six suicide bombers was also from Somaliland, born and raised in Hargeisa. Al-Shabaab's current commander, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was similarly born and raised in Hargeisa, before he left for academic studies in Pakistan, which he left for Afghanistan where he was trained by al-Qaida. Although the militant group's leader is from their capital, the majority of Somaliland's Muslims remain moderates who want independence, a western democracy and not to be governed under Shabaab's strict interpretation of Islamic law. Their constitution is a blend of secular, customary and Islamic laws and a testimony to Somalilander's moderate leanings is that the last presidential elections had an 80% voter participation rate, despite the western-style democratic process being bitterly ideologically opposed by al-Shabaab.

While support for al-Shabaab is still in its formative years in Somaliland, what raises eyebrows among locals and neighboring countries like Ethiopia is the trend and pace at which the doctrinal teachings of al-Shabaab-aligned Salafis are growing among the population. Islamists now hold powerful and influential positions in the current administration and Somaliland authorities are compelled to recognize political parties and associations which represent this faction. The propagation of Salafi teachings in Somaliland become evident when you look the change in dress and behavior, people whose lifestyles were marked by moderate Islamic influences have clearly embraced stricter cultural and social norms. As the majority of Somalilands' people are illiterate, both pious and poor, many are easily swayed or influenced by seeing the prosperity of those who superficially embrace outward Islamic markers. Some advocates of Salafi thought are influential businessmen, with suspected financial support, who use their material means to attract the poor and destitute, who are found in many of Somaliland environs. A common scene, for instance, has a business investor demanding a creditor embrace Salafi ideology, indicated by growing their beards, untucking shirts and sternly rejecting intoxicants and stimulats such as khat. Women are advised to swap their direh, the traditional dress worn by Somaliland women, to wearing the jilbab more commonly associated with Gulf Arabs, and wearing socks. Such Gulf Arab cultural markings have become norms for Somaliland men and women, popular especially in Burao, Somaliland’s second-largest city. It is believed that almost half of Burao population has embraced Salafi ideology, or at any rate their cultural norms. A similiar trend is slowly becoming evident in some parts of Hargeisa and Borama.

Security Threats

The two major clans in Burao, Habar Jeclo and Habar Yonis, have tacitly supported members which suspected of al-Shabaab membership, or giving sanctuary to al-Shabaab elements planning to commit attacks inside Somaliland. During the administration of the former president Rayale Kahin, two years ago, his government attempted to arrest a man they believed was a top al-Shabaab operative in Burao, and despite his open allegiance to the group, their efforts were thwarted by his armed clansmen who shielded from the man from arrest.

Days before the last presidential election, (link to Somaliland presidential election) security forces raided a hideout in Burao where al-Shabaab planners were believed to be assembling bombs and planning to disrupt the election. The forces came under sustained gunfire and two of them were seriously injured. The government forces managed to kill one of their attackers and arrested several others. They also confiscated mines and bomb making materials. Ironically, the suspected al-Shabaab plotters were being housed and supported by the clan (Habar Jeclo) of the current president Silanyo, but he was well-known a clear front runner and eventually won the election.

Sympathy From Officials

Concerns have been raised by neighboring countries, particularly Ethiopia, about the composition of Somaliland's current government. Ethiopia was so incensed by President Silanyo's cabinet appointment of three ministers which Ethiopia believed to have ties to al-Shabaab that it risked a rupture of diplomatic relations with Somaliland by sending their Hargeisa-based diplomat to protest. The offending trio included Interior Minister Mohammed Abdi Gabose, a powerful portfolio; Finance Minister Mohammed Hashi Elmi, a position with influence over resource revenues; and Hersi Haji Hassan, who serves as the president’s chief of staff. Gabose has since resigned from the cabinet and formed his own political organization, Wadani; and Elmi, who is known for his straight-talking, was sacked three weeks ago and immediately replaced by Abdiaziz Samaale, considered an Islamist hardliner, who previously served as deputy parliament speaker.

Mohammed Elmi’s son, a Somali-Canadian, was killed by Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu in late 2006 when he joined and fought alongside the Islamic Courts Union, then including the current TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and other members of the southern Somali regime. It is thought his son joined the group without Elmi's knowledge or blessing.

Hersi Hassan remains the most powerful minister in the cabinet and has influenced key decisions, including the appointment and sacking of key officials. Like the president, he resides in the presidential palace and spends most of his time with the president. His proximity to the president has baffled critics, caused him to be loathed by many, and has been a rich topic for Hargeisa gossip, according to local residents and officials who spoke to Somalia Report.

Use of Political Organization

Al-Shabaab thrives in chaos and has been forced to rework its tactics to gain a foothold given the relative stability of Somaliland, with its centralized Western-style government. Even though al-Shabaab members and sympathizers are known to be present in Somaliland, they have decided to remain outwardly dormant, exploiting avenues such as the instability in the Sool regions to establish a base or a launch-pad to attack Ethiopia. Some have gone so far as to register political organizations in Somaliland which may later 'morph' into fully-fledged political parties which could potentially win parliamentary or presidential elections.

Their inspiration comes from from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which via their Freedom and Justice party dominate both houses of parliament through their numerical advantage, and are well-placed to influence the constitutional review process, and the introduction of Shariah law.

In December, Sheikh Mohamud Abdullahi Gelle convened a press conference and declared the formation of an Islamic Party, Hizbullah. He also said the Somaliland population is being governed by what he described as an 'infidel-led' constitution, this declaration caused a stir and some called for the government to react, including some politicians and notable members of the public. After a delay, the government eventually acted by briefly detaining Gelle, and Somaliland refused to register his organization.

The Somaliland government has allowed the registration of Badhbaadho, a political organization which loosely translates to 'Salvation'. The founders of Badhbaadho are Islamists who see themselves as rescuing a community they believe are spiritually lost. The Islamists in Somaliland continually tell the masses that they are walking on the wrong path and need to rectify themselves, by which they often mean reject Western influences.

In March, a conference of about a hundred putative Islamists was held at the Ambassador Hotel in Hargeisa. Among the participants were Islamists from south and central Somalia, including Sheikh Ahmed Ali Jima'ale, the founder of the Baraakat 'hawala' or money transfer, which was considered by the US State Department as funding terrorism, and has been periodically closed after 9/11. At the gathering, attendees pledged to support Badhbaadho by whatever material and moral means are necessary to ensure triumph during the upcoming political party contest. (Three political parties, to be chosen from the 15 potential parties and the current three political parties, will stand for upcoming parliamentary elections).

Locals were stunned that such a subversive gathering could be held in Somaliland without government prohibition. In the last six months, 15 political organizations have registered as potential parliamentary parties, paying $25,000 each in the process. The potential parties include Ummada , Midnimo, Nasiye and Gurmad. Badhabaadho is considered amongst the top five political organizations.


Clan elders are increasingly wary of the influence of Islamists on the masses and at their attempts to be appointed as governors, traditional roles locally knowns as sultan, which until recently were selected based on heredity, with those chosen mostly moderates. Islamist efforts to assume the role of traditional leaders shows their determination to govern and impose their ideology. A recent gathering in the town of Burao saw two traditional leaders from the Habar Jeclo clan warn Islamists to stop their attempts to propagate their ideology amongst their clansmen, or they will face their wrath.

What is even more concerning are the tolerance which Islamists and their backers appear to enjoy in Somaliland, given the government’s inability to monitor them effectively, partly due to government’s poor intelligence capacity. Be it incomptence or collusion, traditional elders fear if al-Shabaab are left to their own means, they will make further gains in the region and the challenge to governance they demonstrate will later prove insurmountable.

(*Editor's note: Salafism, also known as 'Wahabism', is an Islamic doctrine propagated by Riyadh and modern jihadi organizations including al-Qaeda, which considers itself to be purifying and returning Muslims to the traditional teachings of the early Muslims)

Somaliland Journalists still detained

By: Mohamed Ali Abdi (Royter) Apr 08, 2012

Somaliland authority in Las-anod the district of Sool region is supposed to bring a court two journalists, it arrested in separate times, as the report says.

The governor of Sool region, Mohamed Mohamoud Jeniyare said that they will bring to a court the journalists Ahmed Ali Farah and Abdisamad Kayse and also keep with the work of any journalist, who writes, reports or televises news against Somaliland desires.

On Saturday morning 07, April 2012, Somaliland police in Las-anod went the house of Mohamed Shaqale a Somali TV Journalist works with Somali Sat TV and they were going to ask him news relating the arrest of journalists jailed in Las-anod, which he televised on Somali Sat TV, as Hassan Dubad (Dubadyare) a Somali journalist stays in Las-anod told to SOMJA.

Abdisamad Kayse was arrested on 03, April 2012, when he was going to visit his colleague Ahmed Ali Farah, who was also arrested by the Somaliland Authorities in Las-anod on 31, March, 2012.

Dubad adds that Sool Journalists started to evacuate and collect their equipment from Las-anod to Cayn region, after Somaliland Forces threatened them that they intimidate arrest and beat them if they don’t abide by their rules and to write what Somaliland needs, but not to write the news from Khatumo State (SSC).

Somaliland authority does not give any details why it imprisoned the journalists it central jail of Las-anod and also there has not been any allegation against them, since it arrested therm. The journalists in Sool region have been under attack, since Somaliland occupied Las-anod in 2007 and the arrest of these journalists become as ordinary in the region as every news centers in Somalia writes.

SOMALIA: Elder Buurmadow brought before court after 24 days in jail

April 9th, 2012. By; Abdalle Ahmed

Hargeisa (RBC) Prominent traditional in Somaliland Boqor Osman Mohamud Burmadow sees the court in Hargeisa at the breakaway Somalia region on Sunday after 24 days in jail without any trial, RBC Radio reports.

The elder who was arrested on 15 March shortly after he returned from abroad, has been in Hargeisa main prison without court trial. He was accused of opposing the secessionist political of Somaliland.

RBC Radio correspondent in Hargeisa says Boqor Buurmadow was not allowed to speak to the news people and see his relatives gathering in front of the regional court. The police took him back to the prison.

Court magistrates said they did not yet details of the charges against the elder and that Sunday’s court stand was only to file the lawsuit.

The lawyer of the elder complained that the court was not independent to hear the case against the elder. “They are not free just they look and read what has been dictated for them.” Lawyer Mohamed Jama told reporters in front of Hargeisa regional court.

Buurmadow’s arrest drew large criticism from human rights organizations and local elders who demanded urgent release. Somaliland police and the regional court did not comment on the case yet.

The elder, who hails from northern Somalia, has been known for his efforts of reconciliation for rival clans in northern Somalia after the collapse of Somalia’s former central government in 1991.

He has been living in exile for the last four years after Somaliland administration issued a warrant of his arrest following his critics to Somaliland administration.

Somalia: President Silanyo sets up committee to hold talks with TFG

HARGEYSA, Somalia Apr 8 2012 (Garowe Online) – Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo has named a committee of ministers to hold discussions with the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Radio Garowe reports.

The committee which consists of 5 ministers will be the focal point between the TFG and the Somaliland government and will work on how they could be able to hold talks in the future. The London conference in February proposed such talks between Somaliland and the TFG.

The ministers that make up the committee are, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, Minister of Internal Affairs Mohamed Nuur, Minister of Justice Hussein Ahmed Aydid, Minister of Agriculture Farah Elmi and Minister of Transportation Ahmed Abdi Habsade.

Despite clan elders and some government officials opposing talks between the TFG and Somaliland President Silanyo has moved forward in setting up discussion between the two. Last month clan elder Buur Madow was apprehended by Somaliland authorities after arriving in Hargeysa airport. The clan elder was openly involved in political comments through the independent media and was quoted as saying it was a "political mistake" for Somaliland to engage in dialogue with the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia in Mogadishu.

Somaliland, located in northwestern Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of the country in 1991 but has not gained international recognition.

In Somaliland, two journalists detained without charge

CPJ. April 6, 2012.

New York, April 6, 2012--Authorities in Somaliland must immediately release two journalists who have been detained without charge for days in apparent violation of regional law, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Somaliland authorities arrested Ahmed Ali Farah, a reporter for Royal TV, in the northwest town of Las Anod, in the Sool region, on March 31, according to news reports. Local journalists told CPJ that Governor Mohamed Mohamud had ordered the arrest and said that Farah was being held in Central Las Anod Prison. Three days later, Abdisaman Isse, a reporter for Universal TV, was arrested while visiting Farah in prison, news reports said.

Somaliland law forbids detainees from being held without charge for more than 48 hours. Local journalists said authorities had not disclosed reasons for the journalists' detention.

Local journalists told CPJ they suspected Farah and Isse were arrested for their coverage of the Sool region. The two journalists had recently covered a conference in the town of Taleh that culminated in the announcement of a new independent region, Khatumo State, the journalists told CPJ, adding that they feared the arrests of other journalists who had covered the Taleh conference.

"Authorities are holding Ahmed Ali Farah and Abdisaman Isse without explanation, in violation of the law, and in apparent reprisal for political coverage deemed unfavorable," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "The journalists should be released immediately."

Control of the Sool region has been in dispute between the semiautonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland for two decades.

Somaliland authorities have repeatedly detained journalists this year in what appears to be an attempt to silence any reporting of instability in the region, according to CPJ research.