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East African bloc discuss refugees situation in Somalia

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states discussed potential solutions concerning refugees condition and reintegration of returnees in Somalia.

Representatives of IGAD member states drawn from refugee agencies and ministries responsible for planning, local government and foreign affairs met in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Thursday to validate the roadmap and results of the Nairobi Action Plan on durable solutions for Somali refugees and reintegration of returnees in Somalia.

The Nairobi action plan was set to conclude preparatory work that laid out a regional roadmap on how to deliver the commitments made by IGAD Heads of State and Government at the Special Summit on Somali refugees held in Nairobi on March 25.

IGAD also revealed in a statement issued on Thursday that the first progress report concerning the preparatory work, which will take stock of the achievements by the countries and progress made at the regional level, will be presented in November 2017 at the Regional Inter-ministerial Committee meeting.

Accelerating solutions in Somalia by creating an environment conducive for voluntary and sustainable returns, and delivering durable solutions whilst maintaining protection and asylum space are at the core of the Nairobi Declaration and its accompanying Plan of Action.

It also promotes the self-reliance and inclusion of refugees in countries of asylum.

The preparatory work was coordinated by a core group of regional and international partners comprised of IGAD, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Other organizations, such as the UNDP and the World Bank, have since joined the initiative to support implementation of programs aimed at stabilizing Somalia and enhancing self-reliance and access to services and assistance for refugees and host communities across the East and Horn of Africa.


Al-Shabaab briefly seizes border near Kenyan border

MANDERA (Xinhua) -- Heavily armed Al-Shabaab militants on Saturday morning overran a Somalia National Army (SNA) camp at Bula Hache, a few kilometers from Elwak town near the Somalia border with Kenya.

Both Kenyan and Somalia officials said the militants briefly seized the town before they later withdrew after a fierce gunfight that had begun on Friday night and ended on Saturday morning.

Kenya’s Mandera South Deputy County Commissioner Daniel Bundotich said the militants overran the camp operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) before burning SNA belongings and rifles.

Somalia residents said the militants looted food aid, computers and seized some vehicles belonging to humanitarian agencies operating along the border.

Bundotich said Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) used aerial bombardment to free the camp from the militants in picking up trucks and battle wagons.

"KDF have managed to recapture the camp plus five armoured personnel carriers (APC) that the militants were trying to escaped with," said Bundotich.

"Our forces have managed to free the camp from the Al-Shabaab as they are our neighbours and saw it prudent to create a buffer zone along the border, " he added.

Residents in Elwak which is near the Kenyan border said the town fell into Al Shabaab hands after Somali government and Jubbaland forces withdrew from the town and fled towards Kenya.

The Somali residents said both sides engaged in hours of gun fight but the number of casualties has not yet been confirmed. Residents are in fear of possible counter-attacks.

The latest attack came after Al-Shabaab gunmen overran a police camp in Bula Hawa near Mandera town on Monday before Kenyan security forces recaptured it from the militants.

East Africa bloc decries increased terror attacks in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- East Africa bloc said Friday it was dismayed by the recent wave of terror attacks in Somalia by Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, which has left several people dead and others injured.

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said Al-Shabaab is bent on trying to destroy the gains that the people and Somali government have achieved through their indomitable spirit, hard work and optimism.

"IGAD condemns in the strongest terms possible the recent Al-Shabaab terror attacks on civilians carried out in Mogadishu and areas in the southern part of Somalia, and in which so many innocent citizens lost their lives and as many were injured within a span of two-week time," the bloc said in a statement.

The regional bloc offered its heartfelt condolences to all those who have been affected by the terror attacks.

"May those who lost loved ones have the strength to withstand the pain and may those who sustained injuries recover speedily," IGAD said.

The bloc, which comprises of Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti lauded the courage and bravery showcased by Somalia government soldiers in defending their territory, their government, and their people against the repeated attacks against the institutions of the country.

The regional bloc also appreciated the progress to the credit of the government made in bringing the country back to normalcy.

"IGAD, yet again, affirms its unwavering solidarity with and support to the government and people of Somalia," the bloc said.

The militants have recently increased their attacks against African Union and Somali forces especially in Mogadishu and southern Somalia, which has seen a surge of attacks that resulted in the loss of several strategic towns although the militants mainly held those towns briefly.

The African Union Mission in Somalia and Somali forces backed by U.S. military have also intensified airstrikes in southern Somalia recently, resulting in the killing of several militants and some defections.

U.S. urges Somalia to build strong democratic institutions to spur peace

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The United States on Friday called on Somalia government to build strong and credible democratic institutions that will promote peace and stability in the country.

The U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu lauded the government for its continued progress towards a more inclusive democratic governance system and the peaceful transition to a new government in early 2017.

"We encourage all stakeholders to rise above political distractions in order to work together to achieve progress in democratization and good governance," the embassy said in a statement issued to mark the International Day of Democracy.

Washington also encouraged the Western-backed government to continue to enhance its commitment to democratization by putting in place the legal and institutional tools needed to make progress towards one-person one-vote elections in 2020/2021.

The U.S. also called on Somalia to hasten completion of the constitutional review, and build strong credible institutions that are accountable to the people of Somalia.

The statement said the Horn of Africa nation is a country recovering from many years of conflict, and the road to democracy is long and full of challenges.

"The United States remains a strong partner to Somalia in its effort to build strong, credible, and democratic institutions that will promote peace and stability in the country," it said.

The global community observes the International Day of Democracy on Sept. 15 to raise public awareness about democracy.

This year’s theme of democracy and conflict prevention focuses on the critical need to strengthen democratic institutions to promote peace and stability.


UN and U.S. mourn death of Somali journalist in suicide attack

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The United Nations and the United States on Wednesday mourned the passing away of Somali journalist, Abdullahi Osman Moalim, who succumbed to injuries sustained from an Al-Shabaab terrorist attack on Sunday in Beledweyne, central region.

The U.S. embassy in Mogadishu extended condolences to the family of journalist Moalim, who worked for Jubbaland TV and Radio Codka Hiiraan.

“The United States condemns Al-Shabaab and its indiscriminate attacks on the Somali people,” the embassy said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

“We salute and encourage Somali journalists to continue their work despite the daily struggles and risks, in defense of the inalienable right of freedom of expression on behalf of the Somali people,” the embassy said.

On its part, the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) also regretted the death of the journalist who was among other journalists seated at the teashop as they waited for the press conference by the regional administration.

“UN Somalia deeply regrets death of Jubbaland TV journalist Abdullahi Osman Moalim from wounds in the Sunday suicide attack in Beledweyne,” UNSOM said.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) said it was shocked to hear the death of Moalim due to severe injuries he sustained during the attack.

At least four people were killed and 15 others injured including two journalists during the suicide bomb attack.

Al-Shabaab terrorists who have been fighting to topple the Western-backed government claimed reasonability for the attack which comes amid surge in terror incidences in central Somalia.


Somalia radio station spurs recovery process through promoting enterprises

By Abdi and Wang Xiaopeng MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- A new radio station in Somalia that airs business programs round the clock is behind hastening the Horn of Africa State’s recovery process through promotion of entrepreneurship.

Goobjoog Business that has over 25 radio stations across Somalia usually airs content rich in economics, finance and entrepreneurship to the delight of citizens and local leaders.

It commenced operations early this year and has stood out as the only channel dedicated to business while providing a platform for entrepreneurs and their clients to interact.

Abdiwali Jama Bare, the director of Goobjoog Business, told Xinhua recently that the decision to start a business radio was informed by the growing need for specialized coverage of topics related to entrepreneurship.

“We started this idea because we realized there were no media outlets dedicated to covering business and we felt the need to fill this gap in the market,” said Bare.

“We offer opportunities to make visible business ideas for entrepreneurs in Somalia. Since we do not spend time on politics as most stations do, we are able to build our expertise in covering business and gradually becoming a reliable source for business news in Somalia,” he added.

The World Bank said in its Somali Economic Update last month, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to have reached 6.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, adding the Horn of Africa country lost about 1.7 billion dollars in livestock deaths and another 60 million dollars lost in crop production during the recent drought.

Bare said the increasing number of Somali Diaspora returning to the country and foreign investors find it difficult to get a clear picture of the country’s investment opportunities and challenges but Goobjoog Business is now addressing that need.

“Different companies want to invest in Somalia because of the improvements in terms of security and general business environment. We help them get accurate and latest business news round the clock. We also carry out in-depth programming covering market research,” Bare said.

After signing out his daily business show, Abdisalan Ali Hussein, a business reporter told Xinhua his choice as reporter with Goobjoog Business was an opportunity to bring positive changes to the society.

“I wanted to present our listeners with something new; something different from what we get on radio every day. Most journalists in Somalia do not cover business but we are fully committed to giving our listeners the best of business news and in-depth analysis,” said Hussein.

Managing to keep the station on air sixteen hours a day is not easy for Bare since business requires specialized understanding by the journalists and the absence of established media schools in Somalia makes it more difficult for journalists to build expertise.

Nevertheless, Bare said his venture is slowly building a team of journalists who are keen on developing their capacity and interest in business journalism.

The station also publishes online monthly market watch reports covering currency performance, prices and other market developments.

A trader in Mogadishu, Mahad Fiqi, told Xinhua he relies on Goobjoog Business for information on business climate in Mogadishu and surrounding regions.

“I am happy with this radio because it presents new business ideas and this for us is encouraging. People know the new things in the market and this is another good thing that was not previously available,” Fiqi said.

Somalia which largely depends on foreign donor funding and Diaspora remittances is working to reverse these trends by building its domestic market to finance its budget and create job opportunities especially for the youths which account for some 75 percent of the population.



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