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Over 70 Somalis deported from U.S.A. arrive home in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- More than 70 Somali citizens arrived in Mogadishu on Friday after being deported from the United States, a government official said.

Minister of Internal Security of Somalia, Abdirisak Omar Mohamed said this is the second time such people have arrived in the country as Washington launches crackdown on illegal immigrants following President Donald Trump’s executive order.

"We were aware of the arrival of 70 Somali citizens here and they arrived today.

"They had been in detention centers for two years in U.S after missing asylum," Mohamed said.

"Somali embassy in U.S and U.S officials agreed to let these people back home, the embassy facilitated their travel documents and came here voluntarily," he added.

More than 90 people including two Kenyans were deported in January from the U.S. on Jan 26.

The deportation came after President Trump’s executive order that include a temporary ban on most refugees and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries.

Analysts say it’s still unclear if President Trump has scrapped plans to undo the 2012 Obama executive order shielding from deportation of nearly 800,000 people brought to the country illegally as children.

Trump promised on the campaign trail to "terminate immediately" a program started by Obama to temporarily protect the young people from deportation and offer them two-year renewable work permits.


UNHCR steps up repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency said on Friday that it has repatriated some 52,591 Somali refugees in Kenya since the return exercise begun in December 2014.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its bi-weekly Update said out of the figure, some 13,277 were supported in 2017 alone.

"Road convoys were organized from Dadaab to Dhobley respectively on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays," the UN refugee agency said.

It added that flights to Mogadishu have resumed on Feb. 27 after a long suspension due to security restrictions in Mogadishu since December 2016.

The move comes after President Uhuru Kenyatta while meeting the UN Chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday said Dadaab refugee camp will be closed.

Kenyatta insisted that the closure is not only good for Kenya in the fight against terror but for the Somali refugees who he said need to replant their roots back home in the interest of rebuilding their nation and restoring their dignity.

"Our policy has been clear for some time, the events that led to the establishment of Dadaab are terribly tragic and the best response to that tragedy is to help refugees to return and rebuild their nation and that is Kenya’s policy and our efforts to hasten the repatriation and resettlement of refugees," Kenyatta said.

His comments came after the High Court in Nairobi last week ruled that the planned repatriation of refugees would be unconstitutional, saying government officials had no powers to order closure of the camp, despite claims that there were serious security, environmental and economic concerns.

Kenya is expected to host an extraordinary summit of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on March 25 to deal with the refugee issue.

The UNHCR said its Monthly Cross Border Coordination Meeting on voluntary repatriation to Somalia held on Feb. 28 and attended by representatives from Government of Kenya, Government of Somalia, UNHCR Kenya and Somalia resolved to step up repatriation despite looming famine in Somalia.

"Participants deliberated on the drought situation and the looming famine in Somalia and its impact on voluntary repatriation.

"It was agreed that voluntary repatriation from Kenya to Somalia will continue, while the drought situation will be closely monitored," it said.

Aid agency warns of surge in cholera cases in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- A global aid agency, Save the Children, on Friday warned of an increase in cholera cases in Somalia which has claimed 200 lives since January amid a looming famine.

The charity said its health and nutrition clinics are reporting "all the early warnings signs" of an avoidable catastrophe, with deaths from cholera and acute watery diarrhea rising sharply.

"These diseases are death sentences for children whose bodies have been weakened by hunger.

"More than 8,400 cases of the diseases have already been confirmed in 2017, 200 of which have been fatal," the charity said in a statement.

Save the Children officials are warning that the scale of the suffering is even greater than at the equivalent stage in 2011.

It also warned that the international community is repeating the failures that led to the deaths of over a quarter of a million Somalis in 2011.

"The surge in deaths during the 2011 drought happened in April—and the drought was less severe then.

"The international community ignored the early warning signs, failed to act decisively and waited until July to declare a famine.

"They are now repeating all of the mistakes from the 2011 playbook," said Hassan Saadi Noor, Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia.

The number of cases has relentlessly increased since the drought began late last year; from fewer than 200 in the first week of November to nearly 1,400 in the second week of February.

Save the Children has dispatched an emergency treatment team to the epicentre of the cholera crisis, across the Bay region and its capital Baidoa, where 72 percent of the cases have been reported.

"Saving these lives and rebuilding livelihoods will require concerted action by the international community, and that action needs to start now," Noor said.

The charity and other agencies are reporting a dramatic deterioration in child health and nutritional status.

Some 6.2 million people, around half of the country, are in urgent need of support.

"Given the weight of evidence, the scale of suffering and the memory of 2011, the international community’s response to the crisis facing Somalia’s children is indefensible and unforgivable," said Noor.

Save the Children called on donors to deliver immediate financing for Somalia.

"We need to see the G7, other donors, and UN agencies drawing up a plan for delivering real money," said Noor.

Union Mission consider new approach to stabilize Somalia

by Chris Mgidu NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is seeking new strategies to help bring peace and stability in the Horn of Africa nation which is beset with frequent terror attacks by Al-Shabaab.

African Union (AU) Special Representative for Somalia Francisco Madeira also called on the AU troops to step up measures to help the new government and its security forces to stamp its authority in areas already liberated by the AU troops.

"We have achieved a lot in the past ten years; we are keeping the government in place; nobody can question that.

"We are keeping the regional governments in place; we supported the two elections, the latest one, we secured that election; and the president was elected in a very consensual way; we did all these things," Madeira said in a statement issued in Nairobi on Friday.

The AU envoy who was addressing a high-level meeting of AU officials, donors and other stakeholders in Nairobi on Thursday said the current military onslaught against the militants may not achieve its desired goals, of delivering sustainable stability in the Horn of Africa country.

"The way we handled it militarily is that we would go there, flash out Al-Shabaab and protect the government.

"We then started training Somalis to take over.

"We were to liberate Mogadishu.

"We felt that we could do it and the Somalia National Army (SNA) would come in later," he added.

The AU mission has been in the Horn of Africa nation for exactly a decade this week and the two-day meeting in the outskirts of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, is taking stock of the Mission’s performance within that period and charting the next way forward.

The meeting is part of events that culminate in May, to mark ten years of the Mission’s presence in Somalia.

Madeira said the Somalia security forces in their current state cannot adequately exercise authority on areas liberated by AMISOM.

He said SNA has its inadequacies and has not been able to take full charge of Somalia’s security, as it should.

"Those who should be fighting expect us to protect them," he said, adding that AMISOM was fighting Al-Shabaab and protecting the Somalia government, at the same time.

"It’s time we made it known that AMISOM is not going to stay forever," he noted, suggesting the key issue to is to form a full functional national Army, have government exercise authority and address the problems facing the population such as historical clan rivalry, land ownership and sharing, power sharing, and reasons that attract the youth to the Al-Shabaab.

"We have to form the army, we have to help the government to exercise its authority all throughout the country and we have to have the government address the real problems that are dividing the people of Somalia," said Madeira who is also the head of Amisom.

He urged donors to stay with Somalia at this critical hour, when the country has a promising and forward-looking federal government.

The AU envoy said AMISOM requires more funds to engage in a comprehensive approach to peace, which involves not just military response, but also mediation, negotiation and engaging an all-inclusive mechanism to conflict resolution.

ICRC sounds alarm over high rates of child malnutrition in Somalia

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has raised an alarm over increasing cases of severe malnutrition among children in Somalia, terming it a threat to their survival.

A statement from ICRC received in Nairobi noted that the number of undernourished Somalia children in urgent need of life-saving interventions has spiked against a backdrop of biting drought currently engulfing the horn of Africa state.

"This rise in child malnutrition is a serious warning sign for Somalia, one that demands both attention and immediate response," said Jordi Raich, the head of ICRC Somalia delegation.

The statement from ICRC indicated that mothers with malnourished children have been trooping its stabilization center in Kismayo General Hospital and other parts of south and central Somalia to seek medical attention.

According to the statement, 369 new patients were admitted to the stabilization centre in February this year, a 40 percent increase in one year period.

The statement added that 414 new patients were admitted at the center in December last year.

"Since November 2016, we are feeling the strain as the number of patients increases," remarked Mohamed Gedi who oversees the stabilization center in Somalia.

"These patients are coming from the rural areas; the pastoral areas where farmers have had their crops fail twice now," Raich said.

ICRC aims to reach 1.4 million people in Somalia with food aid, clean water and cash grants this year as part of its drought response in the country.


UN Chief insists: 'World must act fast to avert famine in Somalia'



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