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Somalia forces capture southern villages from al-Shabaab       

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Somalia security forces have captured several villages in southern Somalia from Al-Shabaab, an official said Wednesday.

“The government captured Mukay Dumis, Digta Gosarow and Idow Gudow villages in Lower Shabelle and is now in full control,” Abdifitah Haji Abdulle, a local administrator in Lower Shabelle region, told journalists.

Abdulle said the capture followed an operation by the security forces, noting there was no resistance as Al-Shabaab militants vacated the area following reports of troops’ movement.

The move came amid a security meeting in Mogadishu chaired by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ahead of an expected offensive against Al-Shabaab.

The president who has also sought increased support from neighboring countries pledged to avenge the Oct. 14 truck bombing, which killed over 350 lives.

Mohamed said Tuesday he would be pushing for the quick integration of federal and state security forces to wage a common front against Al-Shabaab. The group still controls large swathes of the Lower Shabelle region.



Somalia president pledges speedy integration of security forces

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has pledged speedy integration of federal and state security forces to wage a coordinated offensive against the militant group Al-Shabaab.

Speaking on Monday evening during the opening of a security conference bringing together heads of federal states in the country, Farmajo said Somalia needs a united approach to defeating Al-Shabaab which he blamed for the Oct. 14 truck bombing claiming over 350 lives.

The group has however not taken responsibility but claimed credit for the Oct. 28 attack at a city hotel that killed 27 people.

“A plan must be put in place to integrate forces in the regions and those of the federal government to defeat and eradicate the brutal Al-Shabaab from our country,” Farmajo said.

“We hope to finalize this matter by the end of this conference,” the president said, noting mobilization of resources is also critical.

The meeting came following twin terror attacks in the Horn of African country within a span of two weeks claiming hundreds of lives.

The president also sought enhanced support from neighboring countries which also contribute troops to the African Union Force here to bolster the expected military offensive.

A National Security Architecture adopted in May and presented for international funding during the London conference in May envisages the formation of a 22,000-strong military forces in addition to 32,000 police forces to be shared between the federal and state governments.


UN, AU agree on reimbursement of lost equipment in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The United Nations and the Africa Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have reached an agreement on reimbursement of claims by troop and police contributing countries during operations in the Horn of Africa nation.

A statement from AMISOM said Thursday that Boards of Inquiry (BOI), an analytical and managerial tool used within UN peacekeeping missions, will be critical in facilitating claims for reimbursement made by countries contributing troops and police officers to the AMISOM,

Speaking at the end of a two-day meeting in Mogadishu, the Special Representative of the African Union Chairperson for Somalia Francisco Madeira said most troop contributing countries (TCCs) and police contributing countries (PCCs) had lost a substantial amount of equipment because of the hostile and harsh environment in which they operate yet they were unable to seek reimbursement as they did not know the procedures of setting up a BOI.

“It’s important that the troop and police contributing countries, UN and the AU are in agreement and comfortable with the way forward and how we operate so that we can expedite the outstanding claims and move forward with the new ones,” Madeira said.

He said the process of a tripartite agreement between the UN, AU and troop and police contributing countries on how to seek reimbursement for contingent owned equipment was now complete and awaiting signing by the nations involved.

The AU envoy said the major success of the workshop has been the agreement by UN that equipment lost during war or battle will be compensated.

He asked the participants to communicate to share the message with their respective countries and organizations.

Madeira asked the countries which were yet to append their signatures on the tripartite agreement to move with speed so that they can be reimbursed for the lost or damaged equipment.

While Uganda and Ethiopia have signed the tripartite agreement, Kenya and Djibouti have yet to finalize on some issues they had sought clarification.

In addition, Burundi which also contributes troops to the mission is yet to sign the document.

Head of the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) Hubert Price said the reimbursement for Contingent Owned Equipment (COE) to African Union TCCs/PCCs commenced in 2012 through the UN Security Council Resolution.

Price said the workshop was designed to ensure that all TCC/PCC obtain a good understanding of the process to follow in seeking reimbursement and pledged continued UNSOS support to the process.

The tripartite Boards of Inquiry arises from a Memorandum of Understanding that the UN reached with troop and police contributing countries to provide reimbursement for assets for COE that may be lost or damaged through hostile action or abandonment while in the mission area.


Global charity calls for joint efforts to fight pneumonia in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- International charity Save the Children has called for joint effort to fighting pneumonia, the forgotten killer disease in Somalia.

The charity said in a report released on Thursday that pneumonia kills more than two children every hour in Somalia, even though it can be treated with antibiotics costing as little as 0.50 U.S. dollars.

“The situation is worse in Somalia. Food shortages as a result of drought in the country has left millions of children malnourished; making them more vulnerable to diseases including pneumonia,” Abdiqafar Hange, the Area Representative for Save the Children Puntland said during the launch of the report in Garowe.

“We are doing all it take to save these children. We should not ignore pneumonia at this critical time,” Hange added.

The report, Fighting for Breath is part of the global report which also marks the launch of Save the Children’s effort against pneumonia, which aims to save a million lives in the next five years.

The report indicates that 14,561 Somali children succumbed to pneumonia in 2015 alone -which is more than two children dying every hour.

This implies 24 percent of all under five mortality is due to pneumonia. The situation may get worse if drastic measures are not taken to save children’s lives.

Puntland Minister of Health Abdinasir Osman Isse who launched the report said the government has prioritized prevention and treatment of pneumonia.

“However, we cannot do it alone. We need all the key stakeholders to join efforts and ensure children have access to quality health services at all levels of service delivery,” Isse said.

He said there is a need to increase investment in the primary health care systems as well as prioritize effective prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia.

Pneumonia is responsible for the deaths of more children under five than any other disease - more than malaria, diarrhea and measles combined.

According to the charity, more than 80 percent of the victims are children under two years old, many with immune systems weakened by malnutrition or insufficient breastfeeding and unable to fight the infection. Infants are at their most vulnerable in the first weeks of life.

Save the Children is calling for 166 million under-twos to be immunized and for action to help 400 million worldwide with no access to health care. Half of all mothers in Africa have no health care around the time of birth.

Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General and Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, who is backing the global effort, said the cost of vaccines - 9.15 dollars in poor countries - was too high.

“Pharmaceutical companies, governments, aid donors and UN agencies need to come together to make the vaccine prices more affordable to save more lives,” Annan said.


Somali youth meet over peace-building initiatives

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- About 30 Somali youth are meeting in Mogadishu on Monday to discuss how to take leadership roles to bring about social transformation and how to promote rebuilding in the Horn of Africa nation.

The week-long competitive United Nations Development Program (UNDP)-backed Youth Leadership Program (YLP) will also see young men and women seek ways of spearheading innovative ideas in reducing barriers to employment and economic development in Somalia.

UNDP Somalia Deputy Country Director David Akopyan who opened the meeting said the Horn of Africa nation has progressed quite far in recent years, on a very challenging road to peace and development.

“The road is still with many bumps, and at the recent Oct. 14 tragic attack, which devastated many families, we at UNDP lost a dear colleague, and four more people we worked closely with were killed in the blast. But we need to heal and together move forward,” Akopyan said.

“UNDP’s next program will work much closer with youth and for youth. The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are there for you to work with to ensure that Somali society moves from exclusion to inclusion and to more participatory political processes and economic development,” he said.

The training program which runs until Nov. 5  and selected participants will then go on to the larger regional event in Egypt in December, where they will receive further training, networking opportunities, and meet potential investors for their ideas.

The program is run by UNDP Somalia and UNDP Arab States, in partnership with Danleey organization and the Somali Federal Government.

Salad Addow, Director of Danleey, said his organization is working to make all Somali youth informed and actively engaged in the matters that affect them, to achieve a peaceful, prosperous and developed nation that creates opportunities for all.

“This training is a transformational step to peace and development as young people represent a major portion of the population. Young people are the leaders of today and tomorrow,” he said.

The program is the third year the event has been run as part of an annual “youth4peace” initiative that aims to support young men and women across the Arab states region to come up with innovative approaches to address sustainable development challenges, in particular gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The young people will receive support to transform their ideas into innovative, impactful and sustainable development solutions, whether these be social enterprises, nonprofit initiatives, or campaigns.


WHO trains community health workers in Somalia cholera fight

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday it will conduct a two-month training program for community health workers on the case management of acute watery diarrhoea/cholera.

WHO Representative in Somalia, Ghulam Popal, said in a statement that the program began on Wednesday with a three-day training program for 35 trainers, who will then conduct training at the community level.

“WHO will step up its support to the ministry of health to protect over 5 million people who are still at risk of contracting waterborne diseases in different parts of the country, and it is committed to building the local capacities to scale up preparedness and response to potential cholera outbreak,” said Popal.

He said the training of community health workers on cholera case-management is expected to contribute to a reduction of the number of acute watery diarrhoea/cholera associated deaths.

The training program will be implemented between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 and cover the 11 south central zone regions.

Popal said the UN health agency and local authorities have succeeded in controlling the spread of the latest major cholera outbreak which started in November 2016 and ended September 2017.

“The number of suspected cholera cases has declined gradually, thanks to the joint efforts and collaboration between WHO, national health authorities and health partners,” said Popal.

By October, the acute watery diarrhoea/cholera outbreak had resulted in 78 240 cases and 1159 deaths from 55 districts in 19 regions across the country.

“Despite the significant reduction in the number of cases and deaths reported in the past three months, the risk of a potential outbreak during the coming rainy season is still high due to poor sanitation and access to safe water, limited access to health care services, inaccessibility in some of the hotspot areas, and possible importation of cases from neighbouring countries,” WHO warned.


AU meeting reviews gender strategy to empower Somalis

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) started a two-day meeting in Mogadishu on Wednesday to review and update its gender strategy plan aimed at empowering Somalis on gender issues.

The current plan, formulated in 2012 to help AMISOM integrate gender issues in its activities in compliance with the AU Constitutive Act and the various United Nations Security Council mandates, expires in December.

In his opening remarks, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia Francisco Madeira told the participants to ensure the updated strategy is not only aligned to the mission’s mandate but also focuses on empowering Somalis on gender issues.

“I am looking forward to seeing an updated gender strategy that responds to the latest mandate of AMISOM, the Comprehensive Approach to Security, and the knowledge that AMISOM has an exit strategy which underlines the imperative of transferring all pertinent skills to the Somalis,” Madeira said.

Madeira hailed the AMISOM Gender Unit for a job well done, noting that the strategy under review had registered tremendous success, which included, among others, advocating for Somali women’s participation in politics and highlighting the importance of women in peacekeeping.

“AMISOM actively worked to further the participation of Somali women in the electoral process and this appropriately led to a significant increase in female representation across the political spectrum of Somalia,” he said.

The number of women peacekeepers serving in the AMISOM military component has increased from 10 to 741 over the past decade, while the police component has managed to maintain the percentage of women peacekeepers at 20 percent, Madeira.

Other achievements under the strategy include the creation of a hotline to report sexual violence and abuse, gender training and sensitization of troops, implementation of measures and guidelines to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, and the continuous improvement of facilities within AMISOM to address women’s needs.

The UN Security Council in August extended the mandate of AMISOM to May 31, 2018, and approved a reduction of the size of its uniformed personnel to 21,626 by Dec. 31, as it plans for a gradual handover of responsibilities to Somali security forces.


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