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Facing famine and insurgency, Somalia reaches out to international community
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres chair the London Conference on Somalia at Lancaster House in London, 11 May 2017. (Reuters/Hannah McKay)
At a London conference this week, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed met with foreign dignitaries including US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and pleaded with the world leaders to help him fight the terror, corruption, and poverty “raging” in his country. On 11MAY, Somalia’s government and foreign backers signed a security pact, which they presented as a road map toward building a functional Somali national army capable of taking on the fight against al-Shabaab militants. The insurgent group continues to inflict heavy damages in the region: the last week saw at least six separate al Shabaab attacks that killed nine Somali civilians, 22 Somali security forces, two Kenyan civilians, and injured six Kenyan security officers. Until now, an African Union force has been doing most of the fighting against the insurgents, but the AU wants to start withdrawing from Somalia in 2018. The Somali President expressed concern about the national security force’s ability to counter al-Shabaab after AU forces withdraw, and he requested that world leaders end the arms embargo on his country. He noted that Somali government forces are currently only equipped with the same light weapons as the insurgents, and he hopes that heavier weaponry would enable them to defeat al-Shabaab. World leaders expressed reluctance at lifting the embargo, but responded positively to the president’s call for help fighting poverty. It is estimated that as much as one-half of Somalia’s population is in need of assistance, and the United Nations announced it is increasing its funding appeal for the country by $900 million to a total of $1.5 billion. The additional funds will allow aid agencies to cope with a humanitarian crisis caused by the severe drought. The European Union’s ambassador to Somalia also pledged new funding of $53 million to boost the country’s education sector.
News summary of events during the week of 08MAY17 – 15MAY17
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about Somalia’s attempts to fight al-Shabaab and strengthen ties with the international community
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding Somalia’s attempts to fight al-Shabaab and strengthen ties with the international community
Matt Bryden, Director, Sahan Research (Kenya)
“Stepping up military engagement is only part of the solution: it won’t address fundamental problems. Al-Shabaab is constantly evolving — it adeptly appropriates local social and political grievances — so defeating al-Shabaab requires a focus on engaging the population, not simply going around and killing militants.”
Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, President, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (Germany)
“This is the last chance for the international community to stop risking hundreds of thousands of lives. There has to be quick, determined and extensive action now to compensate for previous neglect.”
Tristan McConnell, Foreign Correspondent (Freelance based in Kenya)
“Providing financial support for famine relief while creating political space for talks with al-Shabab are the best paths to mitigating the coming famine and preventing the others that will surely follow if the wrong action — or no action — is taken.”
Abdurahman Sharif, Director, Somalia NGO Consortium
“Reports of upcoming military offensives in the country are concerning as past experience shows that military offensives make it harder for people to reach help and create even more displacement. We believe it is imperative that the focus be on humanitarian response and averting famine and that armed conflict is not escalated in the current environment.”
Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive, Save the Children
“You’ve basically got the most fragile state in the world being scripted out of major finance.”
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to Somalia’s attempts to fight al-Shabaab and strengthen ties with the international community
Media: New York Times
Byline: Helene Cooper
Date: 09 May 2017
LILONGWE, Malawi — The member of the Navy SEALs who was killed last week in Somalia was moving alongside — not behind, as the Pentagon initially said — Somali security forces approaching a complex inhabited by Shabab militants when the insurgents opened fire, American military officials said on Tuesday.
The SEAL member, Kyle Milliken, a 38-year-old senior chief petty officer, died on Friday during the mission in support of Somali Army forces fighting the Shabab, the Islamist militant group. Two other Americans, including a Somali-American interpreter, were wounded when they came under fire during the mission around 40 miles west of Mogadishu, the capital.
Media: Xinhua (China)
Date: 09 May 2017
MOGADISHU, May 9 (Xinhua) — At least six Somali soldiers were killed and several others injured in a landmine blast in Bay region of southwest Somalia on Tuesday, an official said.
Information Minister for Southwest State, Ugaas Hassan told Xinhua the soldiers were killed after their vehicle hit a landmine as they were rushing to help to provide reinforcement to regional forces who were engaged in heavy fighting with Al-Shabaab.
Media: Xinhua (China)
Date: 10 May 2017
MOGADISHU, May 10 (Xinhua) — The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for increased humanitarian response and further funding to help avert looming famine in Somalia.
In a statement issued on the eve of the London Somalia Conference, Guterres called for strengthening of the partnership between the international community, Somalia government and humanitarian partners to prevent famine.
Media: Associated Press
Date: 11 May 2017
LONDON (AP) — Somalia’s president on Thursday called for an end to the arms embargo on his long-chaotic country, saying that if the military doesn’t have more sophisticated equipment in the fight against the al-Shabab extremist group, “definitely this war will continue for another 10 years.”
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has repeatedly vowed to defeat al-Shabab within two years. He spoke to reporters at the end of a high-level conference to address the Horn of Africa nation’s deepening humanitarian and security crisis.
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 11 May 2017
London, May 11, 2017 (AFP) – Somalia struck a new stability pact with the international community on Thursday, aimed at steadying the fragile state by bolstering its security, staving off famine and rebooting its economy.
New President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed hailed a “historic day for Somalia” after concluding the pact between Mogadishu and the international network propping up the crisis-wracked country at a conference in London.
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