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As Somalia combats insecurity, drought worsens ‘more rapidly than projected’ – UN official

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A wide view of the Security Council meeting on the situation in Somalia. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

17 May 2017 – The humanitarian crisis in Somalia is worsening, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council, calling for more than $800 million in aid to offset the impact of a severe drought in a country that is already battling insecurity and poverty.

“The humanitarian crisis has deteriorated more rapidly than was originally projected,” the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Raisedon Zenenga, told the Council in New York.

He said that people are dying and need protection, particularly women and children, as drought conditions force them to migrate from rural areas to town, and as sexual violence increases in displacement camps.

“The scaled up response by humanitarian agencies has averted a famine in the country thus far, but the crisis is unlikely to abate any time soon. The needs for humanitarian assistance are increasing faster than the pace of response,” said Mr. Zenenga, who is also the deputy of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia or UNSOM.

At least $669 million has been received or pledged for the effort, leaving a gap of $831 million in the revised 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan.

More than six million people are affected, of whom only about three million have been reached with food rations.

In the longer-term, the country’s structural problems must be addressed and resilience built, so the country can withstand extreme climatic conditions, the senior UN official said.

Peacebuilding and State-building
Aside from the humanitarian needs, Somalia faces continued insecurity, predominantly from Al Shabaab.

In today’s address, Mr. Zenenga applauded the Security Council-mandated African Union troops, known as AMISOM, which have provided “the backbone of security in Somalia over the past 10 years.”

He called on donor countries to assist with “predictable funding,” ideally through assessed contributions, to support the troops.

The call echoes that of the Special Representative, Michael Keating, who took part last week in the London Conference on Somalia.

As a result of the Conference, the international community reached a security agreement and defined a so-called New Partnership for the country, which sets out a framework to meet the Government’s priority political, security and economic recovery plan. A follow-up meeting is planned for October.

These efforts build towards universal elections which are scheduled for 2020, what Mr. Zenenga called “a defining litmus test of the progress made towards a properly functioning State.”

This past February, the Parliament elected Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo to be the new President since direct elections could not be held safely in the country. In 2020, Somalia aims to hold direct elections.

Ahead of that vote, building up the country’s security and police force, so that it can start taking over responsibility from AMISOM, is a top priority.

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Diplomatic leaks: UAE dissatisfied with Saudi policies

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AL JAZEERA — Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) is working on breaking up Saudi Arabia, leaked documents obtained by Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar revealed.

Al Akhbar said that the leaked documents contained secret diplomatic briefings sent by UAE and Jordanian ambassadors in Beirut to their respective governments.

One of the documents, issued on September 20, 2017, disclosed the outcome of a meeting between Jordan’s ambassador to Lebanon Nabil Masarwa and his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdel-Al al-Qenaie.

“The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed is working on breaking up the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the Jordanian envoy quoted the Kuwait ambassador as saying.

A second document, issued on September 28, 2017, reveals meeting minutes between the Jordanian ambassador and his UAE counterpart Hamad bin Saeed al-Shamsi.

The document said the Jordanian ambassador informed his government that UAE believes that “Saudi policies are failing both domestically and abroad, especially in Lebanon”.

“The UAE is dissatisfied with Saudi policies,” the Jordanian envoy said.

The Qatar vote
According to the leaks, UAE ambassador claims that Lebanon voted for Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari in his bid to become head of UNESCO in October 2017.

“[Lebanese Prime Minister Saad] Hariri knew Lebanon was voting for Qatar,” the UAE ambassador said in a cable sent to his government on October 18, 2017.

In November last year, Hariri announced his shock resignation from the Saudi capital Riyadh.

He later deferred his decision, blaming Iran and its Lebanese ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah, for his initial resignation. He also said he feared an assassination attempt.

Officials in Lebanon alleged that Hariri was held hostage by Saudi authorities, an allegation Hariri denied in his first public statement following his resignation speech.

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Somalia’s Puntland region asks UAE to stay as Gulf split deepens

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BOSASO, Somalia (Reuters) – Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region urged the United Arab Emirates not to close its security operations in the country after a dispute with the central government, saying the Gulf power was a key ally in the fight against Islamist militants.

The dispute goes to the heart of an increasingly troubled relationship between Gulf states – divided by their own disputes – and fractured Somalia, whose coastline sits close to key shipping routes and across the water from Yemen.

Analysts have said the complex standoff risks exacerbating an already explosive security situation on both sides of the Gulf of Aden, where militant groups launch regular attacks.

The central Somali government said on Wednesday it was taking over a military training program run by the UAE.

Days later the UAE announced it was pulling out, accusing Mogadishu of seizing millions of dollars from a plane, money it said was meant to pay soldiers.

“We ask our UAE friends, not only to stay, but to redouble their efforts in helping Somalia stand on its feet,” said the office of the president of Puntland, a territory that sits on the tip of the Horn of Africa looking out over the Gulf of Aden.

Ending UAE support, “will only help our enemy, particularly Al Shabaab and ISIS (Islamic State),” it added late on Monday.

SUSPICION, RESENTMENT

The UAE is one of a number of Gulf powers that have opened bases along the coast of the Horn of Africa and promised investment and donations as they compete for influence in the insecure but strategically important region.

That competition has been exacerbated by a diplomatic rift between Qatar and a bloc including the UAE. In turn, those splits have worsened divisions in Somalia.

Puntland, which has said it wants independence, has sought to woo the UAE which runs an anti-piracy training center there and is developing the main port. The central government in Mogadishu last year criticized Puntland for taking sides in the Gulf dispute. Qatar’s ally Turkey is one of Somalia’s biggest investors.

One Somali government official said last week Mogadishu had decided to take over the UAE operation because the Gulf state’s contract to run it had expired. Another official said the government was investigating the money taken from the plane.

The competition among Gulf states in Somalia has fueled accusations of foreign interference and resentment in many corners of Somali society.

The loss of the UAE program could have a destabilizing effect, said one security analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The value of the UAE trained forces was two-fold – they were relatively well trained but, most importantly, they were paid on time,” unlike other parts of the security forces, the analyst told Reuters.

Somalia has been mired in conflict since 1991.

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Puntland President calls UAE continue its mission in Somalia

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