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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Fierce fighting erupts between Somaliland and Puntland forces

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Heavy fighting between Somaliland and Puntland forces erupted on Tuesday on the outskirts of Tukaraq town in Sool region, north of Somalia.

The clashes which started on Monday flared up on Tuesday when heavily armed forces from Somaliland ambushed bases manned by Puntland troops.

Puntland in a statement from the office of the president accused Somaliland of deliberately provoking conflict in disputed areas in a cynical bid to restore legitimacy in the colonial border areas of the defunct historic British Somaliland.

“This cynical policy of armed aggression represents a clear proof of the hostility of the regime in northwestern Somalia,” said the statement.

The presidency said Puntland which has been determined to avoid shedding of innocent Somali blood has been striving to preserve peace and promoting reconciliation of Somalis in addition to restoration of just governance across the country.

“For these reasons, Puntland has acted responsibly and demonstrated restraint in the face of constant provocation and persistent hostility and the attacks unfortunately emanating from Hargeisa,” it said.

With the latest attacks, Puntland threatened to “respond robustly to any attack on either the territory or the people of Puntland.”

“Puntland shall no longer tolerate any further attack or preparations for attack initiated by the regime in Hargeisa,” the presidency warned.

The exact number of causalities has not yet been released, although Abdi Hersi Ali, Puntland’s Minister of Information said the state troops managed to repulse Somaliland troops.

Nouh Osma’il, Somaliland army chief, also said that its soldiers had pushed back Puntland forces, claiming victory over the clash. Osma’il said their troops encountered counter-offensive from Puntland state forces during the clashes.

Tension has been building in Tukaraq in the past three months after Somaliland troops have seized control of the strategic town in January following an incursion against Puntland Defense forces stationed there.

The two regional Somali states have clashed previously since 2002 over control of disputed regions in Northern Somalia.

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UPDATES:

Somalia, UN call for immediate end to fighting in northern region 

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and the UN have called for an immediate cessation of hostilities between Somaliland and Puntland forces following intense fighting in the Tukaraq area of the Sool region.

In separate statements, Farmajo and Michael Keating, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, called on warring parties to resolve their differences through dialogue.

Keating urged both sides to engage in dialogue to work towards a ceasefire and political agreement after fighting flared up on Tuesday when heavily armed forces from Somaliland launched an ambush attack on bases manned by Puntland troops.

“It also emphasizes the enormous risks posed by the fighting. These range from the possible displacement of tens of thousands of people—at a time when humanitarian needs are already outstripping available funds—to fuelling instability and discord, which support the objectives of violent extremists,” said Keating.

He encouraged the authorities of the two regional states of Somalia to urgently seek a peaceful solution to their differences.

The statement comes a day after Puntland threatened to “respond robustly to any attack on either its territory or the people of Puntland.”

In his statement, Farmajo called on both Puntland and Somalia to cease hostilities especially during the Holy month of Ramadan.

“The hostilities in Tukaraq must cease immediately, it has already caused death and damage, it is senseless and must stop forthwith and everything should be resolved through negotiation. It is unfortunate, we are bleeding as we prepare to enter the holy month of Ramadan,” he said.

The president called on elders from both sides to resolve the differences through negotiations and urged the warring parties to respect the sanctity of life.

There were no exact number of causalities have not yet been released, although Puntland officials said the regional State troops managed to repulse Somaliland troops.

Somaliland army official also said their soldiers had pushed back Puntland forces, claiming victory over the clash.

Tension has been building in Tukaraq in the past three months after Somaliland troops have seized control of the strategic town in January following an incursion against Puntland Defense forces stationed there.

The two regional Somali states have clashed previously since 2002 over control of disputed regions in Northern Somalia.

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UN Security Council approves “technical rollover”
for mandate of AU mission in Somalia

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The Security Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution to approve a “technical rollover” for the mandate of the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Somalia to give time for consideration of an assessment report before a longer re-authorization.

Resolution 2415, which was unanimously adopted by the 15-member council, extends the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) until July 31, 2018.

Amisom’s current mandate expires on May 31, 2018. The Security Council was expecting the results of a joint AU/UN comprehensive assessment before it would make a decision on the longer renewal of the AU mission’s mandate.

But the assessment has been delayed and a report would not be available until June 15. The situation forces the Security Council to arrange for a “technical rollover.”

Resolution 2415 reiterates the Security Council’s decision to reduce Amisom’s uniformed personnel to 20,626, and to include a minimum of 1,040 police personnel, by Oct. 30, 2018. 

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UN to provide health services to 48,000 Somalis in drought-hit regions

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The UN migration agency said Tuesday it will partner with ministries of health in both Somaliland and Puntland to provide emergency health services to 48,000 Somalis in drought hit regions.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it has secured funding from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to provide critical life-saving health services to the drought-affected people in the Sool, Sanaag and Mudug regions over the next five months.

Abdikadir Abdow, IOM Somalia’s Health Program Officer, said eight teams will provide life-saving primary health services to 48,000 Somalis including consultations, nutrition screenings, referral services and health education.

“There is a continuous need for health services due to the critical health gaps across Somalia,” Abdow said in a statement.

He said crisis-affected communities in Sool, Sanaag and Mudug regions are disproportionally affected by food insecurity, malnutrition, and disease outbreaks.

Abdow said migration from rural to urban and peri-urban centers in Somalia has placed a strain on the capacity of municipal authorities to provide basic services.

This, the UN official said, has further exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, particularly among women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities and marginalized communities.

He said the IOM will provide access to emergency primary healthcare for IDPs and host populations in the targeted regions, noting that the UN agency has deployed four Integrated Emergency Rapid Response Teams (IERTs) in each of the targeted states.

“In close partnership with regional and federal ministries of health and local communities, IERTs are deployed to underserved regions with limited access in order to prevent deterioration of the health status of vulnerable communities, especially women and children,” Abdow said.

According to UN agencies, more than two million people remain internally displaced in Somalia.

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China donates 1.5 million U.S. dollars to help flood-hit Somalis

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government on Monday donated 1.5 million U.S. dollars to assist Somalis affected by the raging floods that have displaced thousands of people across the Horn of Africa nation.

Qin Jian, the Chinese Ambassador to Somalia who handed over the donation in Mogadishu, said such gesture demonstrates the deep friendship and brotherhood of the Chinese people to the Somalis during the difficult times.

“The Chinese government has decided to provide 1.5 million dollars in cash to the Somalia government and people for humanitarian assistance to the Somali people affected by the floods,” Qin said.

He said in January Beijing provided some 6 million dollars with 72 containers of assorted goods to the Somali government as part of humanitarian assistance to the country.

“We will provide further 1 million dollars worth of police uniform which will arrive in Somalia from China soon,” he added.

Ahmed Isse Awad, Somali Minister of foreign Affairs, who received the cash donation, lauded the Chinese government for providing such important assistance, saying it arrived at very crucial time following an international appeal for assurance by the president.

“I thank the People’s Republic of China for providing us this humanitarian assistance that came at the right time, we also thank Chinese Ambassador to Somalia for his active role here, ties between the two countries is deepening  and we will expand areas of cooperation,” Awad said.

The Chinese assistance comes amid heavy rains pounding several parts of Somalia especially in central parts of the country.

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Somalia vows to speed up constitutional review process

MOGADISHU Somalia  (Xinhua) -- Somali President Mohamed Abdullah Farmajo has vowed to speed up law review process to enable the Horn of Africa nation to have a new constitution process ahead of “one-person, one-vote” elections scheduled for 2020.

In speech delivered on his behalf by Speaker of the House of the People, Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman during the closing of a three-day convention in Mogadishu late Tuesday, Farmajo stressed the need to finalize constitutional review process by end of this year.

“We are determined to put to an end the review and finalize Somalia’s constitution by the end of 2018,” Farmajo said, adding that the process of developing new laws to govern the country and replacing the Provisional Constitution, developed in 2012, had taken too long, noting that it was time Somalia had a new political charter.

He also highlighted that a new constitution would unite the country, protect the rights of its citizens and help bring about political stability.

Though the review timetable expects the new document to be ready by the end of 2019, Farmajo said his government is determined to complete the process earlier, in line with an earlier promise to deliver a new constitution before the end of his four-year term.

The convention was held as the Horn of Africa nation prepares to move towards “one-person, one-vote” elections in 2020/2021 in which the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) is working to achieve this.

Somalia is currently governed by a Provisional Constitution and the promulgation of a new and permanent constitution is expected before the country holds a “one-person, one-vote election” in 2020.

A statement from the UN mission said Michael Keating, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, praised the Somali government for its efforts in developing a timetable for the new constitution.

“This is a major milestone for Somalia, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to see this day and how proud I am to be the representative of the international community congratulating you on what is happening,” Keating said.

The UN envoy added that a successful review process should be approached in the spirit of unity and reconciliation, adding that he would mobilize financial resources from the international community to add to the 3 million U.S. dollars pledged earlier this week by the Federal Government of Somalia to help conclude the process.

“Politically, my colleagues in UN will do their best to provide technical advice and will also do our best to mobilize financial resources,” Keating said.

The National Constitutional Convention, which drew more than 350 delegates from all sectors of Somali society, kicks off a review process that will address a number of unresolved constitutional issues, including the future status of Mogadishu and the sharing of powers and resources between the federal government and the Federal Member States.

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Somalia enhances security ahead of Ramadan

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somalia security forces have beefed up security in major urban centers in the restive capital city, Mogadishu ahead of Islamic holy month of Ramadan which begins worldwide this week.

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire who toured several districts in Mogadishu on Monday to assess the security has directed security forces to increase patrols in Mogadishu and its environments to ensure peace prevails during Ramadan.

He also urged the police to remain vigilant and reinforce security by arresting any suspicious characters that may utilize the Ramadhan period to stage attacks in the country.

Based on past experience, the al-Qaeda allied militant group normally stages attacks during the holy month of Ramadan and their main targets have been urban centers, military bases and other public places such as hotels, markets and busy restaurants requested by many people including military bases.

Last week, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said, in collaboration with the Somali Police Force, it will conduct patrols throughout the Ramadan period.

“We have always had challenges during that month of Ramadan; we always get propping attacks from the al-Shabab but this time, we want to ensure that our brothers observe the fasting peacefully,” said Brigadier Paul L’Okech, the Uganda contingent commander in Somalia.

L’Okech said the allied forces will carry out pre-emptive measures to thwart all attacks by the insurgents in Mogadishu and its environs.

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Somalia to set up internet exchange point to enhance digital services

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somalia on Wednesday announced plans to establish the country’s first Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Mogadishu to help enhance digital services across the country.

Abdi Ashur Hassan, the Minister of Post, Telecom and Technology, said establishing the first IXP is a very positive step forward in building Somalia’s ICT infrastructure which will enhance the digital services being offered by local institutions in business, education, health, government services.

“We want this infrastructure to be owned and managed by the stakeholders. I hope you will discuss and come up with the best governance model for MogIX and form an interim committee from the community that will run the facility,” Hassan told participants at a forum in Mogadishu.

He said his ministry and its partner organizations, such as World Bank and Packet Clearing House (PCH) would only help establish the facility, but noted that the government wants the local internet providers to run it in the best interest of both the sector and consumers.

The minister said the IXP will allow local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to connect their networks and exchange Internet traffic locally, providing high-bandwidth and low-latency access.

Nisha Goburdhan, an IXP expert from Packet Clearing House (PCH), said a domestic IXP could serve as a catalyst for developing local content and local Internet applications.

Goburdhan said MogIX would provide an incentive for entrepreneurs and innovators to create local Internet-based services that take advantage of the availability of more local bandwidth.

Representatives from telecom operators, ISPs, academia, content providers, government and Somali Network Operators Group expressed their interest in joining MogIX.

             

 

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