GBC radio resumes its operations

June 22, 2010 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 

GBC independent radio station which was among the radio stations in Mogadishu resumed its operations on Monday after two months of closure, officials said.

Hizbul Islam rebel group closed the radio station after they accused of airing songs they banned from Mogadishu radio stations.

The management of the radio said Hizbul Islam group allowed them to operate after two months.

The management added that the Islamist group mistaken them with Radio Bar-Kulan, a Somali broadcaster of the African Union Mission  in Somalia (AMISOM), which used the FM position of GBC.

Bar-Kulan radio which is based in Nairobi transmits its progarmmes through an FM in Mogadishu and plays music and songs.

Mareeg Online

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Speaker elected in Mogadishu for first time in 20 years

May 29, 2010 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 

Somali lawmakers have on Friday elected a new parliament speaker in Mogadishu for the first time in nearly 20 years , Radio Garowe reports.

Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden accumulated a total of 217 votes against his closest rival, Abdi Hashi Abdullahi, who garnered 143 votes. The election was decided on the second round when Abdullahi abandoned his bid.

This is the second term in office for Sharif Hassan, a close associate of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. He was the speaker of the Somali parliament from 2004 to early 2006 but lost it to Sheikh Adan Mohammed Nur Madobe, who recently earlier this month as Speaker.

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Life getting harder for Mogadishu displaced

November 11, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 

Photo: Mohamed Garane/IRIN
An internally displaced person in Somalia (file photo)

Heavy rain, lack of medical services, few latrines and reduced aid have worsened the plight of the growing number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) camping on the outskirts of Mogadishu, sources said.

“We have two clinics in the area covering over 30 camps, with an average population of 550 families (3,300 people) per camp,” Hussein Ali Mohamed, a doctor with the UK-based charity Islamic Relief, said.

“I am seeing more and more cases of malnutrition and water-related diseases,” he added. “There are not enough latrines and those that there are, are being used by three or four times the number of people they were designed for in 2007.”

“You have people weakened by lack of food and poor health with minimum shelter,” Mohammed told IRIN on 9 November, adding that the main problems were respiratory tract infections and diseases related to malnutrition.

“Yesterday [8 November], a two-year-old boy weighing 3.5kg was brought to the clinic… Normally he should have weighed over 10kg. Unfortunately, that is becoming more frequent than in the past.”

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates there are some 900,000 IDPs in the Mogadishu-Afgoye corridor. Virtually all of them are in camps of one sort or another.

Asli Aden, a 30-year-old mother of four, has been an IDP in the Arbiska area, 20km south of Mogadishu, since 2007. While visiting the clinic with her sick child, she told IRIN that life in the camps was becoming even more difficult.

Food aid cut

In 2007 when she first came to the camps, her family used to get 100kg of sorghum, 10kg of beans, 10kg of porridge and 3ltr of cooking oil each month from aid agencies.
“First they reduced it [sorghum or maize] to 75kgs per month, and about four months ago they cut all food aid by half so that we now get 37kg of maize or sorghum, 5kg of beans, 5kg of porridge and 1.5ltr of cooking oil,” she said. “Now, we don’t get oil or beans. I don’t know what we will do but it is getting harder and harder to feed the children.”

The plastic sheeting covering her makeshift home also had so many holes in it that it no long provided shelter from the rain. “Some nights, when it rains, we have to move to the corrugated-iron sheet latrines for shelter,” she explained.

Aid agencies in Somalia have recently said they needed more money but some donors are holding back, concerned at where resources might end up in areas too dangerous for international staff.

Many IDPs also used to go to Mogadishu to look for work and return to the camps with some earnings to supplement aid handouts. “Now because of the deteriorating security conditions many are afraid to go,” Jowahir Ilmi, head of local NGO Somali Women’s Concern, said.

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Rains wash away IDP shelters in Mogadishu

October 19, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 

Flash floods have rendered homeless thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in camps in and around Mogadishu, the Somali capital, locals say.

“The rains that fell on Friday and Saturday [16 and 17 October] destroyed many of the makeshift shelters,” Jowahir Ilmi, head of the Somali Women Concern (SWC), a local NGO, said. “The resulting floods washed away many of the shelters.”

Ilmi said many IDP families lost everything – “the floods took their utensils and anything that was not fixed to the ground”.

Bilmo Nur, who is looking after four grandchildren, told IRIN she sought shelter with another family after the rains destroyed her makeshift home. “My grandson [18 months old] was almost swept away by the water.”

Nur said the children were weak and she was worried the cold weather would make matters worse.

“We don’t have food but we need shelter more urgently,” she said, adding that there had been a break in the rains but it was not expected to last long. “I hope we will get some tents and plastic sheeting before the next [flood].”

Khadra Ali, a community activist in the camps, told IRIN that many in the Ali Somali displaced camp, home to 350 families (2,100 people), were sleeping in the open. “If, as expected, we get another downpour today or tomorrow, we don’t have any place to shelter.”

Ilmi said the rains were also making the sanitary conditions of the camps worse. “The conditions were bad to begin with but the rains are making them worse.”

Photo: IRIN
The displaced outside their makeshift shelters in Mogadishu: Officials say rains that fell on 16 and 17 October destroyed many of the shelters (file photo)

At the mercy of mosquitoes

Meanwhile, in the southern coastal city of Kismayo, 500km south of Mogadishu, heavy rains are adding to the misery of the displaced who fled the city during the recent fighting between two Islamist groups, a local activist told IRIN.

The source said thousands of IDP families who had not returned to city were at the “mercy of the rains and mosquitoes”.

“Around 6,000 families [36,000 people] are living in the open or in very poor conditions,” the source said, adding that most of those who fled the city [on 30 September and 1 October] had not returned.

Some 900,000 people who fled the fighting in Mogadishu between the government and Islamist insurgents have settled in the Mogadishu and Afgoye corridor, according to aid agencies.

Conflict, drought and hyperinflation have combined to create a humanitarian crisis in Somalia, with some 3.6 million needing food aid, according to the UN.

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Mogadishu hospital threats condemned

October 8, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 

Doctors and civil society groups have condemned anonymous threats made against personnel in Madina Hospital, the main health facility in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

The threats were made in leaflets found near the hospital on 7 October, said Mohamed Yusuf, the hospital’s director-general.

“The leaflets had pictures of a handgun and grenades and warned us not treat what the authors described as enemies,” Yusuf said. They described the hospital as an “enemy compound”.

He said those behind the leaflets should know that the hospital treats everyone “no matter what groups or organization. We don’t ask anyone who they belong to. We just do what we can to help them.”

Yusuf, who now lives inside the hospital compound after escaping an assassination attempt earlier this year, said this was the first time the hospital had been threatened.

“We are taking the threat seriously but what we won’t do is abandon our obligations to help our people,” he said.

He added that health personnel in Mogadishu operated under “tremendous difficulties and we definitely don’t need this”.

Ali Sheikh Yassin, deputy chairman of the Mogadishu-based Elman Human Rights Organization (EHRO), condemned the leaflets and those behind them.

“These people [medical personnel] should be commended not threatened,” he said.

Abdi Ibrahim Jiya, a member of the Somalia Medical Association, told IRIN he was “sickened and saddened” by the threats.

“This is really a sad day when the few doctors left are faced with these kinds of threats,” Jiya said.

He said there were not enough medical personnel in Mogadishu and the ones at Madina were dedicated to helping the population.

He said many of the medical personnel could easily find jobs in “safe” countries but had opted to stay with their people, but admitted such threats “could have a chilling effect. My hope is that they will continue helping and ignore this.”

Photo: Abdi Hassan/IRIN
Dr Mohamed Yusuf, the director-general of Madina Hospital

Escalating danger

Over the past few years, access to medical care for civilians and displaced persons in and around the city has decreased due to escalating violence between government forces and Islamist insurgents.

Jiya said with daily shelling and fighting, some medical staff had resorted to staying in medical compounds “both for safety and to be available when needed”.

Despite the difficulties faced by medical personnel, Jiya said, most doctors and nurses he knew had remained in the city. “I honestly don’t know of any who want to leave,” he said.

Yusuf said many of his colleagues had been killed, kidnapped or threatened over the years; however, “this latest threat is not going to change the way we do our work. People need to understand that health workers are neutral and provide treatment to everyone, even the ones writing the leaflets and their relatives.”

On 8 October, some 165 injured people, mostly injured in the ongoing fighting, were being treated in the hospital, said Yusuf. “Some would most likely die without our help. How can we abandon them?”

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Blast kills group of disabled war veterans in Mogadishu

September 14, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 

Photo: Yasmin Omar/IRIN
A person injured in the Mogadishu blast is taken to hospital

At least 12 disabled people were killed in Mogadishu when a shell landed in their compound, according to eyewitnesses.

“We were preparing to break our fast when a shell landed on our compound in Demartini hospital; 12 were killed on the spot and 16 injured and taken to hospital,” said Abdullahi Hassan Hussein, a disabled activist.

The killing of the disabled is the latest act of violence in an increasingly conflict-ridden city, which has seen the displacement of hundreds of thousands from their homes since the end of 2006.

Ali Sheikh Yassin, deputy chairman of the Mogadishu-based Elman Human Rights Organization (EHRO), told IRIN the killings showed that parties to the conflict had reached a new low.

“We condemn this attack in the strongest terms possible and call on both sides to allow an independent investigation to find out who was behind it,” he said.

Both the government and the opposition have denied being behind the attack.

The disabled were veterans of Somalia’s 1977 war with Ethiopia and were considered heroes. The hospital compound is home to 90 of them and their families, said activist Hussein. “They have been here since the civil war started… I don’t know why they were targeted… These were our heroes and we are killing them now. No one is safe.”

EHRO’s Yassin said more than 60 people were killed and 106 injured in fighting in Mogadishu in the last two weeks.

The fighting, between government forces backed by AMISOM (AU peacekeeping troops) and two Islamist insurgent groups, was entering a very dangerous phase “with both sides believing that it is now or never,” he said.

People on the move

More families were leaving the city due to the uncertainty, he told IRIN, adding that the internally displaced persons’ camps on the outskirts of Mogadishu were getting overwhelmed by the new influx.

Other people were moving towards the Kenyan border, said Asha Sha’ur, a civil society representative in Mogadishu. She said conditions in the camps around Mogadishu were deteriorating.

Previously, people fled north to the central regions but those regions have also become war zones. “Unfortunately no place seems safe inside our country,” Sha’ur said. “How many more must die from hunger, disease or wounds, and how many more must lose their homes before this ends?”

Fighting has been going on in Mogadishu since Ethiopian troops withdrew in December 2008, leading to thousands of deaths and injuries, as well as thousands being displaced.

An estimated 3.76 million people – half the population – need assistance, according to the UN Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit.

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Mogadishu battle “marks turning point”

July 16, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 

Al-Shabab, Somalia’s Islamist opposition group, has suffered its first serious military setback in fighting in the capital, Mogadishu, giving the government a much-needed morale boost, say analysts.

“Whether the tide has turned against them is too early to tell but they have taken a beating [in fighting on 12 July],” a Somali observer, who requested anonymity, said.

Clashes between the Islamist insurgents and the forces of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, backed by African Union (AU) peacekeeping troops, known as AMISOM, reportedly left at least 51 people dead and injured 212, locals said.

“Most of those who died [on 12 July] were combatants,” Ali Sheikh Yassin, deputy chairman of the Mogadishu-based Elman Human Rights Organization, told IRIN.

Other sources said the insurgents lost significant territory. “They have been pushed from a number of neighbourhoods in north Mogadishu which they had controlled,” said one.

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Mogadishu: The city the world forgot

May 29, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 

Mogadishu’s best barometer of ­violence is the little blackboard on which Dr Taher Mahmoud daily records the number of patients in his hospital. For the last 20 years the tall surgeon with huge hands has been operating on the victims of the city’s civil war.

“It’s good times now,” he told me when we met a few weeks ago. “We are only getting four to six gunshot casualties a day. That’s very good.” He pointed at the blackboard covered with his neat white handwriting: it recorded that 86 patients were undergoing treatment. “During the Ethiopian war [2007-08] we had 300 in this hospital.”

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Aid work in Mogadishu grinding to a halt

May 26, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 

(IRIN) – Local NGOs in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, have set up a task force in a bid to mobilise urgent help for thousands of displaced civilians.

“The situation is so bad that if nothing is done many will die,” Asha Sha’ur, a civil society activist, told IRIN on 25 May. “We are appealing to the international aid agencies to help these desperate people before it is too late.”

Aid work in Mogadishu has virtually ground to a halt because of increasing violence. An estimated 57,000-60,000 people have fled their homes since the latest fighting flared on 8 May, according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

According to Ali Sheikh Yassin, deputy chairman of the Mogadishu-based Elman Human Rights Organisation (EHRO), 207 people have been killed since the latest clashes began on 8 May. He said that on 22 May alone some 59 people were killed in the city but the figure reflected only the deaths the group could verify. “Many people have been buried where they died.”

Yassin said the death toll included seven policemen killed by a suicide bomber on 24 May.

The violence has forced Médecins Sans Frontières to close its outpatient clinic in Yaaqshid district. The health facility would re-open once there was minimum security, it said.

Photo: Hassan Mahamud Ahmed/IRIN
A family flees Mogadishu following fighting between government troops and insurgents

“Even local NGOs are afraid to respond because of the uncertain security situation,” a local humanitarian worker said.

Last week, the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) reported the looting of its compound in Jowhar, 90km south of Mogadishu, when Al-Shabab militia captured the town.

More than 50,000 severely malnourished children and at least 85,000 moderately malnourished children in south-central Somalia have been affected by the interruption in nutritional and medical supplies.

The 17 May looting resulted in the destruction of humanitarian supplies, assets and equipment. “The cold chain [vaccine storage] equipment was affected, destroying thousands of doses of measles, polio and other vaccines meant for Somali children,” UNICEF said.

Sha’ur and other civil society leaders urged the international community and Somalis in the diaspora to help the thousands of desperate people displaced by the violence that has pitted government forces against insurgents.

“The reason we set up this task force is to make sure that we accompany [aid agencies] wherever they want to go,” Sha’ur said. “We were at some of these camps [on the outskirts of the city] and found the conditions heart-wrenching.”

The newly displaced were living in dire conditions. “Many of them have no shelter and so are sharing small spaces with others and have very little food, if any,” Sha’ur said. “They need help in all areas but shelter is most urgent.”

Nasteho Osman, a 29-year-old single mother of four, returned last week to the camps for the displaced which she left only a month ago.

“I was in Bakara market when the fighting began [on 8 May]; I had to rush back to my house to make sure my children were safe,” Osman said. “I got out six days ago with only what we could carry.”

The situation deteriorates whenever it rains. “We only have one small shack that we use for shelter and when it rains, no one can sleep,” Osman added.

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Exodus continues despite lull in Mogadishu fighting

May 23, 2009 by Webmaster · Leave a Comment 

(IRIN) – Hundreds of families are still fleeing the Somali capital, Mogadishu, despite relative calm in the past week following intense fighting between insurgents and government troops.

They are joining hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps on the outskirts of the city and in safer neighbourhoods inside Mogadishu.

“Even today [21 May], many families are leaving because they believe the current break in the fighting is just temporary,” Ali Sheikh Yassin, the deputy chairman of the Mogadishu-based Elman Human Rights Organisation (EHRO), told IRIN. “I think many people have lost hope that this city will ever return to normal.

“Many markets and businesses have shut down because of the security situation.” He said Suuq Ba’ad in the north, the second-largest open-air market in Mogadishu, was closed.

“There is not a single store or shop open there,” Yassin said. “This market did not close at the height of the conflict in 2007-2008.”

People’s livelihoods have been destroyed, “so anyone who can leave is doing so”, he added.

The impact of the current displacement is also being felt in neighbourhoods that had escaped much of the recent violence in the city, such as Madina in the southwest, and Huriwa in the north.

“Almost every family in these neighbourhoods is hosting one or more families,” Yassin said.

Photo: ReliefWeb

Relying on relatives

Mogadishu resident Abdiwali Nur returned to the city with his family from an IDP camp in April, hoping the situation would improve. However, he is staying with a relative in Madina, with his wife and three children.

“We could not afford to go the IDP camps again so my relative has given us a small place in his house,” Nur said. “All the neighbours are hosting people.”

Another returnee, Halima Warsame, mother of five, fled her home in Towfiq, north Mogadishu, last week to Arbiska area near Afgoye, 30km south of Mogadishu, where she was previously an IDP.

“I left a month ago thinking this was the end of our ordeal but I was wrong,” Warsame said. “I thought with the Ethiopian troops gone and the new government [in place] everything would be alright, only it got worse.

“I don’t see any hope that our situation will ever improve.”

Warsame’s husband and son were killed in 2007 after a shell landed on their shop. She told IRIN their situation in the camp was desperate: “We have no shelter from the constant rain.”

Sporadic shelling has been continuing between government forces and insurgents since major clashes ended on 17 May.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the number of people displaced since 8 May has reached 45,000.

In a briefing note on 20 May, the agency said the deteriorating security situation was hampering aid delivery.

“Even local agencies that have often provided a lifeline to the IDPs are encountering new risks as they try to help out the needy,” UNHCR said.

It said the most urgent needs were shelter and non-food items, “which humanitarian agencies led by UNHCR plan to provide first to over 100,000 people in the Afgoye corridor and neighbourhoods in northwest Mogadishu, and afterwards to others in other affected areas of the city as soon as the security permits”.

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