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Somalia calls for international support as floods displace thousands

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire has appealed to the international community for humanitarian support to help avert a humanitarian crisis as floods uproot hundreds of thousands.

Khaire said the situation was fast escalating as aid agencies warned that close to half a million people had been affected in south-central regions of the country.

“We have all agreed to put our efforts together to help those who have been affected the floods,” the prime minister said on Saturday evening after commissioning a 22-member team to spearhead the response.

He also called on envoys who also attended the meeting to step in while urging Somalis to contribute resources to stem the crisis after more than 400,000 Somalis have been affected by the flooding including 175,000 others who have been displaced.

“We urgently call on the various sectors of the community such as clerics, women, parliamentarians and aid agencies to consult on emergency response to our people affected by floods,” Khaire said.

Thousands were still moving Saturday from their homes in central regions as the River Shabelle burst its banks inundating Baladweyne town in central Somalia. African Union troops joined in on Saturday to transport families to safe grounds.

The Norwegian Refugees Council said on Friday that upwards of 400,00 people had been displaced along the Shabelle and Juba rivers which emanate from Ethiopia draining into the Indian Ocean.

The humanitarian appeal follows an ongoing drought relief efforts in the country which the UN has warned could still spiral into a famine.

The committee to be chaired by deputy prime minister will oversee the response in coordination with the ministry of humanitarian affairs.

The prime minister said his government will urgently respond to prevent the crisis from deteriorating into a catastrophe, adding that the committee will soon start efforts to help the victims who are currently in dire need of assistance.



Displaced persons in Somalia on receiving end as floods wreak havoc

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The internally displaced persons in Somalia are once again staring at a humanitarian crisis as torrential rains accompanied by floods wreak havoc in their makeshift dwelling place.

Both the government and relief agencies have sounded alarm over a looming crisis as flooding intensified in the strife-torn Horn of Africa state which has in the last one year grappled with acute drought.

The Somali government last week sent emergency appeal to humanitarian agencies to scale up response to flooding while insisting that millions of people especially those sheltered in the camps for the displaced were at risk of contracting fatal diseases.

At an Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camp in Mogadishu, Amina Sidow, a mother of five, has been spending sleepless nights as their makeshift camp which has now been battered by the vagaries of weather is fast giving way.

“We have not had adequate sleep for several nights now,” Aamina told Xinhua in an interview on Wednesday. “We are forced to remain standing throughout the night because our house is flooded,” she added.

Drops of water can still be seen as the tarpaulin which is now soaked in water drips, leaving no room for warmth in the house.

“These are the most difficult times for people who live in IDP camps,” Aamina says as she assembles wares in her house which for years now has been home to her children. It (house) no longer shelters us from the rain.”

Like millions of others uprooted from their homes by drought, clan skirmishes or escape from the militant group al-Shabab, Aamina has to contend with the difficult situation she could do little to prevent during the dry season.

The government and humanitarian agencies are now changing course from addressing a severe drought which almost degenerated into a famine last year, to the effects of too much rain.

Aamina says she now has to find urgent options to address the situation noting her children were increasingly exposed to diseases.

“Every day the situation is becoming worse because the rains keep increasing,” said Aamina.

Mogadishu alone has 350,000 internally displaced people cramped up in camps across the city, some of which have become permanent shelter for thousands who found way here several years ago.

With 2 million people now out of their homes, resources become stretched and the most vulnerable and unreachable are further pushed into risk of death.

“The IDPs, a majority of whom are women and children, live in poorly constructed shelters, exposing them to harsh weather and have limited access to hygiene facilities, thus heightening the risk of communicable diseases,” the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry said Sunday in its monthly update.

“In some areas, disease outbreaks such as AWD/cholera are already increasing,” the government said, calling for scaled up response in southern, south west and central regions.

Rahmo Muse, who is based in the same camp as Aamina, told Xinhua the situation in the camp was fast deteriorating.

“So far we have not had anyone to help us; either the government or humanitarian agencies,” said Muse.

“If help does not come our way soon, the risk of a major catastrophe is real,” she added. For IDPs in Somalia, the rains are accompanied by more curses than blessings.

The risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea become the more disturbing for parents as the children are highly predisposed.

“We fear the outbreak of diarrhea and malaria affecting our children. We need blankets and mosquito nets to cushion our children from these diseases,” Mowlid Bishar, a hawker in one of the camps, told Xinhua.

For Bishar, it is a double tragedy as hunger and the risk of disease conspire during such events.

“We are already hungry because there is no food but the thought of disease only worsens our plight,” said Bishar.


United Nations condemn suicide bombing in central Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) has condemned Saturday’s suicide bombing in the city of Galkayo, which killed seven people including government security officers and civilians.

Michael Keating, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia and head of UNSOM, said increased terror attacks by al-Shabab are clear attempts to derail reconciliation process.

“This attack occurred because extremists feel threatened by the progress that is being made with reconciliation efforts in Galkayo,” Keating said in a statement issued on Saturday night.

The blast occurred after a man with suicide vest detonated explosives strapped in his waist as he approached the soldiers at a busy restaurant in northern Galkayo on Saturday.

The al-Shabab has reportedly claimed responsibility for the latest attack in the Horn of African nation.

Keating said Somalia has suffered enough violence and bloodshed, noting that it is time for reconciliation.

“The people and authorities in Galkayo are courageously finding a way forward; they should not be derailed by this assault on their chances of a peaceful future,” said the UN envoy. 


Seven killed in suicide attack in central Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- At least seven people including three senior military officials were killed and eight others injured in a suicide bombing in Galkayo town in central Somalia, official said on Saturday.

A military commander who declined to be named told Xinhua by phone that a suicide bomber wearing explosive vest targeted forces at a popular restaurant in Galkayo.

“I can confirm to you that seven people including the commander of the joint forces Abdihukun Abdullahi Horeye were killed in the attack. We are establishing more details on the incident,” the commander said.

The blast occurred after a man with suicide vest detonated the explosives which were strapped in his waist as he approached the soldiers at a busy restaurant in northern Galkayo.

The joint forces have recently formed to secure the town of Galkayo that witnessed insecurity for the past few years.

Witnesses described the attack as “huge” saying the restaurant is frequented by government officials.

“We heard the blast and learnt that forces were targeted at a restaurant in our town. The place was cordoned off by the security forces,” A witness Mohamed Omar told Xinhua.

Extremist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the latest attack that has caused panic in the in the town in Mudug region.


Somalia plans integration of pro-gov’t militia into security force

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said Friday it has kicked off a two-day training on biometric registration for Somalia government staff to help spearhead the integration of pro-government militias into the national security forces.

The course which is being conducted by AMISOM Police is aimed at training officials from the ministry of internal security to acquire the necessary skills needed to register members of armed pro-government groups operating in Galmudug state in central Somalia.

“This particular exercise is being done to capacitate the officers to go to Galmudug state to also register the regional forces there,” Paul Kissi Frimpong, AMISOM Police Deputy Coordinator in charge of Reform, Restructuring and Development said in a statement released in Mogadishu.

Frimpong said the pan African mission’s Police decided to train Somali officers to be part of the exercise after the Federal Government requested the AU Mission’s aid in registering the pro-government armed groups.

“Apart from the Somali National Army, some of these states have some security forces that have been supporting them to fight the al-Shabab. These forces are outside the SNA and (those are the ones) we are going to register,” he added.

Frimpong said the exercise was part of AMISOM’s plans to develop capacity of the Somali national security forces to enable it take over security responsibilities once AMISOM exits.

“We want to capacitate them (Somali officers), give them the skills to be able to assist in the ongoing exercise of registering the regional forces. As you are aware AMISOM is transitioning which means that the Somali security forces must take over all security responsibilities,” said Frimpong.

The AU mission has already trained a team of officers in Jubbaland and South West states to perform the same function.

In March, AMISOM and Somali security officers commenced the registration of Darwish militia in Jubbaland to pave way for their integration into the Somali national security forces.

The Darwish militia group has been helping the Jubbaland administration fight al-Shabab militants and restore law and order.


UN envoy calls for investment on renewable energy in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The UN top envoy in Somalia has called for more investment in Somalia’s renewable energy sources.

Michael Keating, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, appealed to investors to support development of renewable energy sources as he highlighted the challenges and potential of Somalia’s energy sector.

“Somalia has a population that is growing and urbanizing very fast. Unfortunately, the environment has been very badly damaged through conflict and unregulated exploitation of forests and pasture lands,” Keating said in a statement issued on Sunday.

The UN envoy made the call late on Saturday during a visit to the Enee thermal power-generating plant in the capital, Mogadishu.

“Using fossil fuels is very bad in terms of protecting the natural environment upon which so many depend,” he added at the plant, which is owned by the Beco Power Generating Company, one of the country’s leading electricity utilities.

Keating said investing in renewable energy sources and trying to bring the cost of energy down in ways that are good for the consumer can protect the environment and bring communities together.

The Horn of Africa nation’s energy sector has been devastated by many years of armed conflict, forcing residents to use non-renewable sources of energy that pollute the environment.

According to the UN, Somalia has one of the African continent’s most expensive electricity rates, with a kilowatt of electricity in Mogadishu costing as much as 1 U.S. dollars an hour owing to its reliance on imported fossil fuels.

The Beco Company’s Chief Technical Officer Mohamud Farah Ali his company has set itself the goals of boosting its solar power generation capacity by 5.5 megawatts annually and eventually reducing the amount of power generated by fossil fuels to less than 40 percent of the company’s total production.

“Sustainable energy is the key. In Somalia we have more than five hours (of sunshine), so we really need to invest in renewable energy,” Ali said. Beco which was founded in May 2014 and currently supplies 50 MW of power annually to consumers in Mogadishu and other five towns.

He said the company’s consumption of diesel fuel is reduced by 10,000 barrels for every 2.5 megawatts of energy generated by solar technology. The utility currently uses up to 17,000 barrels of diesel fuel per month to generate electricity.



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