Somalia - ReliefWeb News
Almost 50,000 Somalis have fled their home during the last month and sought refuge elsewhere in the country. A very volatile security situation and fear of fighting and violence have forced people on the run. The Danish Refugee Council is working hard to address their needs.
Fear of being in the middle of the fighting and violence around Somalia has forced 50,000 Somalis to flee their houses and thus becoming internally displaced. AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) has launched operations against Al Shabaab in several districts in Somalia and people fear the consequences of these operations. The largest influxes have happened in the towns of Mogadishu, Luuq and Baidoa - all places where the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is present and doing everything possible to support the newly displaced but the needs are immense.
“The situation in Somalia is very insecure and people are often forced to flee. The latest displacements are putting extra pressure on our operations but our staff is running as fast as they can to keep up with the newest influx. We are present all over Somalia and have a contingency plan which allow rapid responses and flexibility in situations like this,” says Rikke Johannesen, Deputy Regional Director, DRC Horn of Africa & Yemen.
Compared with the rest of Somalia, Mogadishu offers above average access to education, training and health services. Following the recent improvement in the security situation, the local economy is starting to recover. But there is a big difference between people voluntarily deciding to return to the capital and people who are pressured to leave their homes and forced to find refuge in Mogadishu – as is the case for the latest arrivals.
“Even though part of Mogadishu is relatively safe, 2013 and 2014 have seen an increase of security incidents. Additionally the new influx is happening while the city authorities and the international community is still working very hard to assist the 360.000 IDPs already living in very dire camps, as well during a time where neighboring countries are sending back people unassisted,” Rikke Johannesen says.
But people are not only fleeing to Mogadishu. In Luuq, DRC staff have conducted an assessment when the new arrivals appeared. The majority of this newly displaced population is made up of children, women and old aged persons. The socio-economic conditions of the women and children in the camps are extremely precarious, particularly as far as food security is concerned.
“In Luuq, temporary accommodation has been provided to the displaced persons in the major IDP camps within the district. These camps were set up before the latest arrivals by international humanitarian agencies with the help of locally based organizations. However, the number of new arrivals is overwhelming and requires immediate intervention,” says Rikke Johannesen.
A significant number of the displaced people are interested to return back to their areas of origin if security conditions allow. The new arrivals are mostly accommodated in the earlier IDP camps while some of them have sought refuge in host families.
The Somalia programme is the largest of DRC’s four country programmes currently carried out in the Horn of Africa & Yemen. Activities span from emergency response to longer term recovery and development aimed at strengthening resilience in the region. DRC has 19 operational field offices in Somalia where programmes are developed, designed and implemented by teams of international and national staff. This presence allows for rapid responses and flexibility in providing contextualized assistance to populations affected by humanitarian crisis in the region.
The Crackdown on Somalis Will Probably Backfire By Cedric Barnes (@CedricHoA)
The round-up and mass detention of Somalis in Nairobi, which began in earnest on 31 March, deliberately conflated immigration issues with counter-terrorism and has widened dangerous communal divides. Al-Shabaab and its extremist allies in Kenya will be very satisfied. What the attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall last September failed to do – sow division among Kenyans – might well be achieved by these detentions and deportations. This month’s events brought out the worst in Kenya, from the prejudice shown, especially in social media, by ordinary citizens, to petty point scoring by the political class, to police extortion of bribes from lawfully resident Somalis, to the extrajudicial execution of the controversial Muslim preacher known as Makaburi (“graveyard”).
The terrorist threat is real enough. In March, security forces seized a pick-up truck packed with explosives, reportedly part of a planned multi-pronged attack in Mombasa. (Authorities believed the truck was one of several devices.) Soon thereafter, armed gunmen killed six worshipers at a Christian Church in the Likoni area of Mombasa. There was also a spate of grenade attacks targeting Christians, and claiming another six lives, in the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh, where people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds live side by side.
The Westgate mall attack killed indiscriminately and brought a unified response: private Kenyan citizens, including of Somali origin, were applauded for their individual heroism and community support, and the nation, led by President Kenyatta, stood as one. By contrast, the recent attacks were targeted and the government’s security operations in response quickly exposed divides between majority and minority communities, even between MPs within the ruling Jubilee coalition. The operations also drew a belated but firm response from the opposition Orange Democratic Coalition.
The security sweep – at one point 6,000 police descended on Eastleigh and neighbouring Majengo and Pangani – and mass arrests are particularly poignant for Kenyans of Somali heritage, a significant minority population whose districts were for long years under a state of emergency. Security services’ abuses were common there; a memorial to one such infamous instance, the 1984 Wagalla massacre, was recently unveiled. Kenyan Somalis face stringent requirements for acquiring national identity cards – the vetting process can be arbitrarily suspended for months on end – even though widespread corruption enables others without birthright to acquire these documents illicitly with relative ease.
Concerted action against illegally resident Somalis was announced last year but halted at the eleventh hour by a legal ruling. Legality aside, the latest operation was poorly handled: that some 4,000 citizens were arrested in a few days suggests due process might well have been trumped by paranoia. Many Kenyans and Somalis with valid documents have been stopped in the street or visited by police in their homes, often in the middle of the night: 5,000 shillings ($60) was the going rate for a bribe to avoid being carted off into detention.
In the space of little more than a week, Kenyan Somalis (almost 2 million people), along with half a million refugees and migrants, have found themselves to be in a targeted class. Their experience resonates all too well with the sermons and speeches of radical preachers – a number of whom, most recently Makaburi, have been assassinated by persons unknown – who play upon Muslim marginalisation to promote support for Al-Shabaab and other radical groups. The government’s recent action threatens to create a greater constituency for Al-Shabaab, uniting grievances that are specific to the Somali community with those of the wider Muslim population. This includes the largely Muslim coastal counties, whose social indicators are among the lowest in Kenya. Security forces’ excesses also undermine the anti-Shabaab messages of Salafi/Wahhabi clerics – especially those of Somali heritage like Sheikh Umal and Sheikh Shibli – who turned against Al-Shabaab in 2009 and gave comprehensive theological condemnations of the Westgate attacks.
Another own goal, given Kenya’s fragile economic recovery, is the negative impact on the Somali business community. From their hub in Eastleigh, Somalis direct trade, transport and manufacturing from South Africa to South Sudan, and further afield in the Gulf and South East Asia. This enterprising community brings in an estimated $780 million per annum in foreign currency to Kenya’s exchequer. According to Somali business sources, many Somali-owned businesses, fearing further state reprisals, are sending their dollars to safer havens. This could devalue the Kenyan shilling, adding inflationary pressure.
The plight of Kenyan Somalis also reveals more general ailments, most particularly with regard to the police. Police reform has been very slow despite the promises that followed the post-election violence of 2007-2008 and the rights enshrined in Kenya’s 2010 Constitution.
Now, as the makeshift detention centre in Nairobi’s Kasarani stadium begins to empty, with more than 80 Somalis deported direct to Mogadishu and more expected to follow, along with several hundred refugees transported back to the camps on the border, what is the ongoing operation achieving? Not necessarily a safer Kenya, but rather an experience of persecution that risks being only of benefit to Al-Shabaab and their ilk. They have been quick to exploit the disturbing images of huddled Somalis in detention, as well as portraying the Somali Federal Government as weak and complicit.
Kenya can and must do better than this in countering the terrorist threat, as well as addressing illegal migration. Blanket actions that look like collective punishment of a particular minority and faith group can only marginalise – and radicalise – further. The president and senior security officials need to call out the terrorist tactics of communal division – as they did after Westgate – and build greater community and national cohesion. This is not only the right thing to do: such actions will enhance intelligence gathering and help interdict terrorist plots. The damage done in the past two weeks is not irreparable, but it is a real setback for a country that needs the trust and cooperation of all its citizens.
Cedric Barnes joined Crisis Group in December 2012 as Horn of Africa Project Director, and oversees research and advocacy activities in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan. He holds a Doctorate in African History from University of Cambridge, and a Masters’ degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, where he also researched and taught for five years. From 2007 until 2012 Cedric was Principal Research Analyst for the Horn of Africa at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with short-term postings in Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Cedric is a Research Associate at SOAS, and Fellow of the Rift Valley Institute.
United Republic of Tanzania: Climate Prediction Center’s Africa Hazards Outlook April 17 – April 23, 2014
- Significantly heavy amounts of rainfall are expected to worsen flooding conditions across eastern Tanzania.
1) Poorly distributed seasonal rainfall since February has led to deteriorating ground conditions in western Angola. As seasonal rains are expected to decline this month, these long-term moisture deficits are likely to negatively impact crop and pastoral conditions for many areas.
2) Several consecutive days of torrentially heavy rainfall during the last seven days has resulted in widespread flooding, displaced populations, damage to infrastructure, and fatalities in the northeastern coast of Tanzania. A continuation of enhanced precipitation is expected during the middle of April, which may likely lead to additional flooding in the region.
In a courtyard at the Horseed Women Organization in Gaalkacyo, women sit in rows operating hand looms. Rhythmically moving the shuttle, right left right left and gently pressing the foot treadle down. This is the intricate art of weaving.
The organization was established in 2000 with the aim of empowering the local women: helping them gain skills that improve their lives. The centre offers short term courses in tailoring, weaving, catering, tie-and-die, hennaing (salon arts), basic arithmetic, reading and writing Somali language. It also plays role in educating women on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), HIV/AIDS, arbitration and reconciliation skills, business skills and awareness.
Through the Elmidoon (seeking knowledge) project, CISP is working with this organization to teach 30 women skills in weaving, and tie and dye. To be eligible for the training the women underwent a selection process and on qualifying were offered a full scholarship. The courses will take six months.
The technical skills learned here have changed lives of many women. Nasro Hassan is learning weaving and catering at Horseed. “CISP sponsored me in 2012 to learn tailoring at this centre. Before then I was a housewife and I had no income. Now I make clothes for people. My husband is unemployed but I can support our family,” she says.
This is the third month since the training began and the trainees are already enjoying the fruits of their labour. Some of their products have found their way to the market and shops in Gaalkacyo; they include head scarves and dresses.
Shukri Sheikh, the organization’s manager, states that CISP’s involvement in empowering women through Horseed has been a continuous engagement. Previously the organisation donated sewing machines and cash grants to graduates to enable them start their own business ventures after training.
By Hussein Somo, Communication Officer, Mogadishu
04/16/2014 14:38 GMT
MOGADISHU, April 16, 2014 (AFP) - Armed forces from Somalia's rival northern regions faced off on Wednesday over a contested region, with both the United Nations and United States calling for calm.
Troops from self-declared Somaliland in the northwest and soldiers from autonomous Puntland in the northeast have deployed around the town of Taleh, a contested zone in the northern Sool region.
The two regions claim several areas in border regions including potentially valuable oil blocks, with both sides in certain cases issuing overlapping exploration licences.
Rival forces have clashed repeatedly in the region before, a lawless area bordering Ethiopia that does not recognise the authority of the weak central government based far to the south in Mogadishu.
"The situation will not be resolved by military means," UN special representative Nicholas Kay said in a statement.
"All parties must refrain from violent actions, and make immediate efforts to de-escalate the situation and resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue and compromise," he added.
US special representative James McAnulty expressed "deep concern" at the "mounting tensions" between the regions.
"We call upon all parties to refrain from violence and to seek resolution through peaceful dialogue," he said in a statement.
Mogadishu, 16 April 2014 – The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG), Nicholas Kay, expressed his concern as tensions mounted between forces from Somaliland and Puntland in the northern region of Sool, and in particular the town of Taleh.
“I call for calm. The situation will not be resolved by military means. All parties must refrain from violent actions, and make immediate efforts to de-escalate the situation and resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue and compromise. The Somali people have suffered enough and know that no good can come from further violence and insecurity. UNSOM is coordinating our response with international partners to urge the utmost restraint. We stand ready to support any mediation efforts with all parties” said SRSG Kay.
Somalia: Internal and External Displacement among Populations of Southern and Central Somalia Affected by Severe Food Insecurity and Famine during 2010-2012
For well over two decades, large numbers of the Somali population have been in flight— internally and externally—from violence and conflict, famine and severe food insecurity, and the impoverishment and uncertainty these bring in their wake. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia have averaged over 1 million per year since at least 2007 (with numbers spiking to nearly 2 million during the early 1990s). The number of refugees averaged nearly 600,000 per year since 1990. As of 2012, about 1 million Somali refugees lived in 124 countries worldwide, with the largest numbers by far in Ethiopia (223,000) and Kenya (512,000). The world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab in Northeastern Kenya, is home to the largest concentration of Somalis outside of Mogadishu. In recent years, the situation in Somalia has been described as among the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
Inflation: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) declined in Central zone (3%) but increased marginally (2%) in other parts of Somalia in March 2014. Annual price inflation did not change much in the Northern zone although it increased (6-9%) in Southern and Central zones. The CPI increased moderately in Somaliland Shilling (SlSh) regions and significantly in Somali Shilling (SoSh) areas when compared to the base period (March 2007).
Exchange rate: The SoSh posted a monthly drop in value against the United States Dollar (USD) in most southern regions but remained relatively stable in Central and Northern regions. The SlSh also depreciated slightly in March 2014. Compared to the previous year (March 2013), the SoSh depreciated significantly in southern regions and marginally in central and northern regions; the SlSh also showed a marginal annual depreciation. The annual trend in southern regions could be attributed to on-going conflict affecting economic and humanitarian activities. However, the SoSh shows a strong gain in value compared to the five-year average, particularly in southern regions, resulting from high dollar inflows through humanitarian assistance, foreign direct investments and remittances.
Local grain prices increased in March 2014 on a month-on-month basis in most markets with a significant increase observed in Bakool (Hudur market), Middle Shabelle (Jowhar market) and Juba regions. The trend in the latter regions is attributed to ongoing conflict which curtailed supply into these areas as well as reduced cereal stocks following below normal/ poor Deyr 2013/2014 harvest. Cereal prices were well above their levels in comparison with the previous year (March 2013) but below the five-year average (March 2009-2013) levels across many regions.
Prices of imported food (rice, sugar, vegetable oil & wheat flour) quoted in local currency showed slight monthly changes at regional levels with the exception of Bakool region where the prices of all commodities increased significantly due to prevailing insecurity. Annual price comparison indicates increases in conflict-affected regions of Lower Shabelle and Bakool regions and declines in most other markets.
Compared to five-year averages, prices declined in all SoSh areas but rose mildly in SlSh areas. The latter is attributable to an appreciation of the SoSh currency against the USD over the five year period increased port supplies and a general decline of prices on the international markets.
Livestock prices exhibited mixed trends in most areas on a month-onmonth basis. The prices of large ruminants (camel and cattle) showed relative stability in most southern markets, moderate increase in central regions and mild to moderate declines in northern markets. Goat prices remained relatively stable in most markets apart from central regions where they decreased moderately due prevailing insecurity affecting trade activities. Annual price comparisons show mild changes (increase /decline) in most markets. However, prices are considerably higher than their five-year average levels in most markets.
The Gu season (April – June) had an early onset in a few areas of the country (2nd and 3rd dekad of March) and was marked by scanty to moderate rains. The recorded rainfall data from rain gauge stations (Map 1) include Erigavo (31mm), Hargeisa (2mm), Cadaadly (10mm), Jowhar (7mm) and Bardhere (12mm) [Table 1]. The data indicates slightly above average rains compared to the long term mean (LTM) in Erigavo and Jowhar stations but below LTM levels in other stations. Satellitederived rainfall estimates (RFE) based on TAMSAT data confirm the rains in March showing a gradual increase in area coverage in the 3rd dekad; the RFE data are close to rainfall amounts recorded by rain gauge stations (Maps 2-5). In addition to the above areas, field reports also indicate rainfall activities in Bakool region in the South.
The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for March 2014 shows continued normal vegetation conditions in the northern and central regions. Improved vegetation conditions are observed in the Northwest (Golis and Guban livelihoods), which is attributed to Hays (Dec-Feb) rains. In the South, small to large decrease of vegetation is evident in Lower Shabelle (agropastoral irrigated areas and Southeast Pastoral) livelihood zones and pastoral livelihood zones of the Jubas (Map 10).
Land preparation and sowing activities started in some parts of the country, mainly due to the early rains. However, high prices of seeds constrain poor farmers’ ability to cultivate. The increased cost of farm inputs is attributed to ongoing hostilities in the South, which have also impacted the intensity of farming activities in March. Pasture and water conditions are near normal in most pastoral and agropastoral areas and are expected to improve once the Gu rains pick up. Field reports indicate that the desert locusts that emerged in the Golis mountains in November 2013 have brought limitted damage to browse and vegetable farms in the area. Livestock body conditions are generally good with normal livestock migration being observed across the country.
Swarms move into eastern Ethiopia
At least ten immature and mature swarms have been reported appearing in eastern Ethiopia from adjacent areas of northwest Somalia on 5-10 April. The swarms were initially seen in Awbere District north of Jijiga and later spread to eight districts in the Somali region. The swarms varied in size from one to 20 sq. km. and are highly mobile. Some of the adults have become mature and nearly ready to lay eggs. Aerial and ground control operations treated six swarms.
In adjacent areas of northwest Somalia, there has been a decline in swarm reports compared to the last week of March. On 10 April, an immature swarm passed over Boroma and, two days later, a swarm was seen on the outskirts of the town.
Survey and control operations are continuing in eastern Ethiopia while new surveys are expected to be underway shortly in northwest Somalia to confirm the latest developments.
The adults will mature and lay eggs in the coming weeks in those areas where rains have recently fallen in eastern Ethiopia. Hatching, which is expected about two weeks later, will probably cause hopper bands to form.
Syria: Violence is intensifying in Damascus, with increased attacks from both the Government and the opposition. In Aleppo, fighting between Syrian troops and opposition fighters is causing further casualties. In the east, infighting between rival opposition factions has led to a reinforcement of Iraqi troops’ positions on the Iraqi side of the border. To date, over nine million people are in need of assistance, and more than 2.6 million have fled the country. In early April, humanitarian assistance was allowed in besieged areas in Aleppo for the first time since June.
Central African Republic: The UN Security Council voted a resolution to deploy a UN peacekeeping operation, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) as of September. Violence continued, with an attack against a Chad-bound convoy of Muslim civilians causing renewed mass displacement in Boguila, Ouham. Between 5 and 8 April, 35 people were killed in clashes in Dekoa, Kemo province, and in Bangui.
Nigeria: Violence is escalating across the country, with almost daily attacks by suspected Boko Haram insurgents. In Abuja, a bomb attack killed over 70 people at a crowded bus station. This was the first attack in two years and the deadliest ever on Nigeria's capital. A string of attacks killed up to 200 people in Borno state, near the border with Cameroon. To date, six million people are affected by the violence and over 57,000 people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries since May 2013.
Last update: 15/04/2014 Next Update: 23/04/2014
Locally heavy rainfall may ease moisture deficits in parts of western Angola
Africa Weather Hazards
- Poorly distributed seasonal rainfall since February has led to deteriorating ground conditions in western Angola. These long-term moisture deficits may negatively impact developing crops and pastoral areas. However, precipitation forecasts indicate the potential for locally heavy rainfall in the Benguela and Cuanza Sul provinces, which may provide some relief to moisture stress in the country.
The military offensive by the Somali National Armed Forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia in southern and central Somalia began one month ago.
Since then, six regions have been directly affected. The offensive has so far led to the temporary movement of over 40,000 people.
This is against a backdrop of 2.9 million people who need immediate life-saving and livelihoods support. Somalia continues to be one of the most volatile and operationally challenging environments for humanitarian workers.
Humanitarian partners require improved security, access and flexible funding to effectively assist people in need.
• Milling vouchers in South Sudan
• IYCF indicators in small sample surveys
• Surge support to CMAM services in Kenya
• Goat feeding and milk access in Ethiopia
• Nutrition impact and positive practice circles
• Sectoral integration with cash programming
• Barrier analysis on breastfeeding in Mali
• Material support to health posts in Ethiopia
Ration Card Exchange
Between 15th and 22nd March, UNHCR replaced old food ration cards with new ones in all five Dadaab camps. Refugees who collected their food rations stopped by the UNHCR desks in food distribution centres to receive their new cards. 80,424 new ration cards were validated which means that 97% of all households in Dadaab now have a new card. The remaining 3% of households can approach the UNHCR field offices for their cards.
The list of households to receive food rations in the first week of April was generated on the basis of the new and the remaining old card numbers. When refugees do not show up for food distribution for three consecutive cycles, their ration cards are invalidated. After six cycles, their ration cards are inactivated.
Each cell on the map represents the forecasted accumulated rainfall over the next 3 days / Xubin walba oo naqshadda koorkeeda ah waxay muujinaysaa guud ahaan saadaasha roobka ee saddexda maalmood ee soo socota
The full forecast grid is available for download at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/fews/africa/briefing.html 3 day accumulated precipitation forecast / Roobka guud ahaaneed ee 3 maalmood ee soo socota: 14/04/2014 to 16/04/2014
Many sources of water in Somalia have been damaged or have lacked maintenance since the outbreak of conflict in the early 1990s. Making sure that Somalis have access to safe water supplies is thus a central part of the ICRC’s work in the country.
In 2013, nearly 375,000 people – and crucially also their livestock – had their access to water improved by the ICRC.
“The main reasons for water shortage in Somalia are the recurrent droughts and floods, the strain on the few available water supply points, and the absence of state services that would otherwise create and maintain water supplies,” said May Mousa, who is in charge of the ICRC’s water and habitat activities in Somalia.
“Somalis also find their access to water prevented by insecurity arising from the ongoing conflict. These problems demand a multifaceted response that combines meeting emergency needs with investing in the maintenance of existing water sources, or creating new ones,” she added.
Acute and chronic water needs
While major widespread droughts like those experienced across Somalia and the Horn of Africa in 2011 and 2012 draw a lot of global attention, localized serious droughts affect communities in Somalia every year. “Such was the case in the second half of 2013 in parts of Gedo region, in the south-west of the country, when the normal water sources dried up in some 50 villages between September and November,” explained Ms Mousa.
Major floods, too, disrupt access to clean water in most years, as regular sources become contaminated by heavily silted floodwater. This was the case in late 2013 in both Jowhar in the south, and Puntland in the north. Additionally, people forced from their homes due to conflict and insecurity may find themselves in very vulnerable conditions on the peripheries of towns and cities, where access to water is also limited.
“We respond to the most acute needs, when all other options are exhausted, by trucking water in tanks to communities,” said Ms Mousa. In Gedo, emergency water rations were provided for some 42,000 people and their livestock during the drought months. In Jowhar District in September 2013, 11,500 people displaced by fighting moved Jowhar town, where the ICRC has since been providing lifesaving water rations through trucking. At the same time, the organization has been rehabilitating a hand-dug well and constructing two rainwater catchments back in their home area, to which many of the displaced people hope to return in the coming months.
For water sources contaminated by floods, the ICRC helps decontaminate and clean them once the floodwaters have receded. In 2013, 10,000 people were forced to flee to different parts of Jowhar town when the Shabelle River burst its banks, making living conditions deplorable. “Shallow wells and other sources of water were contaminated, presenting a major health hazard,” recalled Ms Mousa. Of 19 hand-dug wells cleaned by the ICRC, 13 were also upgraded, enabling access to clean water for over 20,000 people.
In Puntland, a cyclone that struck in November 2013 left dozens of people dead and up to a million head of livestock wiped out by freak freezing temperatures, high winds and severe floods. In addition to providing food and essential household items, the ICRC also made available water and chlorine tablets, as well as the basins, jerrycans and bladder tanks needed to store and distribute water – benefiting more than 4,000 people.
Investing for the long term
The ICRC invests much of its resources into projects that promote long-term sustainability of water sources, and which also seek to maintain the number of access points to water. It does so by repairing and rehabilitating existing water sources, such as boreholes, hand-dug wells and pumps, and drinking-troughs for animals. For example, five boreholes that had been damaged in Galguduud, Mudug, Nugaal and Lower Juba regions were re-drilled, providing water to over 25,000 beneficiaries and their livestock.
Around these and other existing boreholes and wells, the ICRC builds infrastructure such as elevated water tanks, generator houses, tap-stands and animal troughs to enhance access to water. The ICRC also helps local communities to upgrade their existing water sources by improving traditional rainwater harvesting techniques through the construction of berkeds (traditional Somali water cisterns) and rainwater catchments, and sometimes by drilling new boreholes.
Last year, over 90,000 people benefited from such actions. In Tuulo Ooman, Puntland for instance, the ICRC constructed a berked which now serves three villages. Water harvested by the berked during rainy seasons is then used in subsequent dry seasons. Traditionally, Somalis build berkeds in a rectangular shape – however, the ICRC encourages communities to build them in a circular form, which makes them stronger and more durable.
UNMAS programme staff is almost 50% female.What motivates these women? What makes this work so fulfilling? In their own voices UNMAS officers tell what they seek to achieve and how mine action work brings them satisfaction. Officers from Afghanistan to Somalia describe what they do to save lives and help re-establish stability.
Somali refugees and asylum-seekers living in Kenya are being trapped in a catch-22 situation by the government’s counter-terrorism crackdown, Amnesty International said as thousands of Somalis continued to be rounded up by security forces in Nairobi.
Registration of Somali refugees in Kenya has been largely halted since December 2011, preventing many who should qualify for refugee status from obtaining papers. Without these they could be returned to Somalia, where they may be at risk of human rights abuses.
“Thousands of unregistered Somali refugees and asylum-seekers are in an impossible situation: they face arrest and deportation because they are not registered, but it is extremely difficult for them to register,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Regional Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.
“The Kenyan government is punishing refugees and asylum-seekers for being in a legal limbo that it has created, while showing no consideration for their human rights.”
Somali refugees told Amnesty International they had faced intimidation, beatings and unlawful detention at the hands of security forces conducting house-to-house searches in predominantly Somali neighbourhoods over the past week.
Ahmed, 26, who was taken from his home to the Kasarani football stadium to have his papers checked on 7 April, said: “They came to my house in the middle of the night and demanded my papers. My ID had expired. They said ‘this is not real ID’ so they beat and kicked me and then took me to Kasarani.”
Unregistered asylum-seekers are at particular risk, though people with valid papers have also been arbitrarily detained, threatened and mistreated.
Mohamed, who was arrested on 6 April near Eastleigh, a predominantly Somali area of Nairobi, told Amnesty International: “Four policemen stopped me and asked for my ID. I showed them my refugee card; they said it meant nothing. They demanded 35,000 KSh ($400 US) from me. When I didn’t have it, they told me I was al-Shabab and forced me to go with them.”
He was detained at the Kasarani stadium, where many refugees have been taken for screening, before being moved to a police station overnight. The following day he was released along with 47 others, but he now has no ID.
“When they brought us back to Eastleigh they didn’t give me my refugee mandate back. They told me to come back the next day to Kasarani, but when I went I was told to come back another time,” he said.
Refugees and asylum-seekers without IDs are at high risk of arrest and detention. Though Mohamed is legally in Kenya, he is unable to move around freely for fear of arrest.
“I didn’t sleep last night. Now I don’t have an ID, if they arrest me right now, I have nothing to show,” he said.
The Kenyan government has been carrying out a large-scale anti-terror operation called Rudisha Usalama (“restore peace”) since 2 April, arresting more than 4,000 people throughout the country, mainly from the Somali community.
“Such blanket arrests are discriminatory and arbitrary. Marginalizing entire communities is not the way to deal with insecurity, and may well cause further insecurity,” Michelle Kagari said.
The government crackdown on refugees has escalated since Kenya’s Secretary of Interior, Ole Lenku, issued a directive on 26 March ordering all refugees to move to run-down and overcrowded camps in northern Kenya.
This followed a similar government directive in December 2012, which was quashed by Kenya’s High Court in July 2013.
The Court said relocation to the camps would violate refugees’ dignity and freedom of movement and risks indirectly forcing them back to Somalia. The Court also ruled that the Kenyan government had not proved that the move would help protect national security.
The current crackdown is not only in breach of the High Court judgement, but has also been implemented unlawfully.
Ibrahim, a Somali elder in Eastleigh, told Amnesty International: “The way they’re treating people is forcing people to go back to Somalia.”
Amnesty International’s report published in February, No Place Like Home: Returns and Relocations of Somalia’s Displaced, documented how widespread intimidation and lack of respect for human rights are forcing Somali refugees out of Kenya.
On 9 April, the Somali embassy in Nairobi said that Kenya had deported 82 Somalis to Mogadishu. More are expected to be deported in the coming days.
“These deportations to a volatile security situation in Somalia may well amount to refoulement,” said Michelle Kagari.
“Forcibly returning people to places where their lives or freedoms are at risk would violate international refugee law, which Kenya is bound to respect.”
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on
+44 20 7413 5566 email: email@example.com
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK
By PHILIP BWAYO
Police in Trans Nzoia have arrested 48 refugees of Sudanese and Somali origin who have been illegally staying outside their camps in an ongoing security operation.
The refugees, who were from the Kakuma and IFO refugee camps, were arrested during security checks in public service vehicles and raids on residential areas where some of them had rented houses.
“Some of them were arrested in a roadblock where they were headed to Kitale from the Kakuma refugee camp in Turkana County,” area police commandant Lilian Okembo told journalists in her office.
“We found out that most of the refugees we have arrested had started operating businesses outside camps and occasionally sneak back to camps,” said the police boss.
Some of those arrested have no identification to ascertain why they are in the country.
She said those found with documents indicating their refugee status have been handed to the Department of Refugee Affairs to be taken back to the camps while those with no papers will be arraigned in court.
Landlords in the region have been advised not to rent out their houses to tenants without ascertaining their identity.