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Hope,Peace and Solidarity, one Child at a time

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Sahro Abdikadir Arte shuffles through a mound of papers as she prepares for a morning meeting with her team of instructors ahead of another teaching session for street children.

For the past 17 months, Sahro and her team of instructors have been running a programme in the port city of Kismaayo that offers formal education to street children free of charge.

The programme, dubbed ubaxa rajada – or flower of hope, in English – is currently offering lessons to 50 street children who had lost hope of acquiring quality education.

“The reason why I established this programme is because I believe a country cannot achieve peace, stability and development until its children are educated and taught useful skills because they are the flowers of hope and leaders of tomorrow,” Sahro says.

The children attend classes five days a week to learn English, Arabic, mathematics and Islamic education (Tarbiyo). The education programme offers a great opportunity to students who might have otherwise fallen prey to extremist groups recruiting children as soldiers or forcing them into child marriage.

“The biggest achievement of this intervention is that the vulnerable children who used to be persuaded to do evil things against peaceful residents are now educated and know the importance of peace, not only in their lives but also in the entire community,” Sahro observes.

The 25-year-old teacher strongly supports the position of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the role of education in society. According to UNESCO, education should be a means to empower children and adults alike to be active participants in the transformation of their societies.

The programme has managed to change the behaviour and attitude of the children, enabling them to partner with the rest of the community in peacebuilding efforts. Society, on the other hand, can thus begin to change its negative perception towards street children, whose individual rights have been ignored for many years, according to Sahro.

“Initially, intellectuals, politicians and others in society were not viewing street children as important in conflict resolution, not knowing that vulnerable children can be easily influenced to carry out evil activities. This attitude is now changing in Kismaayo,” she says.

Thanks to the success of ubaxa rajada, similar programmes have been initiated in Kismaayo and other parts of Jubbaland State, a move that has seen more street children benefiting from free education.

Initially, however, her decision to establish a programme for street children did not go down well with everyone. Sahro had to overcome skepticism from friends and relatives who dismissed her idea as a waste of time and energy.

“My colleagues and workmates used to discourage me, and in several instances they asked me to stop teaching these street children as nothing good will come out it. But I never gave in to their advice and day in, day out, the enrollment of the children increased,” she notes.

Sahro is optimistic about Somalia’s future and strongly believes peace and stability will be fully achieved one day.

“Peace means life; it is the most valuable thing we can have as Somalis, since our country has been in anarchy for over two decades. Achieving peace in Somalia is as important as the gift of life,” she observes.

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Somali News

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince meets Somali President

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Abu Dhabi, Nov. 20 (BNA): Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and UAE Armed Forces Deputy Supreme Commander Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan received Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo, currently on visit to the United Arab Emirates.

The two sides discussed cooperation to combat terrorism, violence and armed groups and coordinate joint work to maintain security and stability in Somalia. They also reviewed regional and international developments and issues of mutual interest.

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Somali News

45 Years Ago, Somalia’s Siad Barre saves Idi Amin from Tanzanians

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Forty five years ago, Uganda was at war with rebels who had invaded its territory from neighbouring Tanzania.
The war that lasted no more than 72 hours started on September 16, 1972, when the enemy forces of the Front for National Salvation (Fronasa), led by Yoweri Museveni, and Kikosi-Maalum, commanded by Lt Col Tito Okello Lutwa, attacked Uganda from Mutukula and Isingiro border areas.

They were, however, easily repulsed by the Uganda Army. Kikosi-Maalum attacked Uganda from Mutukula while Fronasa entered Uganda through Isingiro and attacked Simba Barracks near Mbarara Town. Hundreds of their fighters were captured and killed.
Uganda Army lost 27 soldiers, among them Lieutenant Abdultif, the Air Force Company Commander of the Tiger Battalion, who was shot dead by a sniper in Mutukula.

Amin rushes to Mogadishu

Since the late 1980s, Somalia has battled with irregular regional forces, clan militias and now Islamist militant group al-Shabaab.
In 2007, Uganda sent troops to Somalia to try and bring order to the failed state. Uganda currently has more than 6,000 soldiers and officers serving as part of a 22,000-strong Amisom force.

But as a peaceful and stable country in 1972, Somalia acted as Uganda’s saviour. Uganda’s president Idi Amin in October 1972 ran to Somalia for help from his counterpart Siad Barre to fight off the threat coming from Tanzania.

Somalia bailed out Uganda by sending a peace keeping force while Libya under Col Muammar Gaddafi sent a fighting force. They arrived in Uganda a week after the September 16, 1972 invasion.

Mogadishu Accord

The Mogadishu Accord between Uganda and Tanzania was signed in October 1972 following talks facilitated by president Siad Barre. The accord had four major articles which included:

1. To cease forthwith all military operations of any kind against each territory and to withdraw not later than October 19, 1972, all their military forces to a distance not less than 10 kilometres from the common border,
2. To effect an immediate cessation of hostile propaganda invested against each other through radio, television and press,
3. To refrain from harbouring or allowing subversive forces to operate in the territory of state against the other,
4. Lastly to release nationals or property, if any, of the other state held by either state.

The accord was deemed to have come into effect on October 7, 1972, and it was simultaneously announced on radio in Dar es Salaam, Kampala and Mogadishu.

Uganda’s minister for Foreign Affairs Wanume Kibedi signed for Uganda. His counterpart John Malecela signed for Tanzania while Mr Jaalle Omala Arteh, Somalis secretary of state for foreign affairs, signed for his country.

The pact also resolved that Siad Barre appoint a neutral military observer team to monitor the progress of the agreement.

Indeed Barre came up with the Somali Military Observation Team (SMOT) to make sure that the two states withdrew their forces from the common border.

In the first week of November 1972, SMOT, led by Brig Nur Adow, arrived in Uganda. On November 10, 1972, they visited Mutukula and the following day visited Kikagati in Isingiro. The team was accompanied by the Ugandan commander of the Air Force, Col Gad Wilson Toko.

Brig Adow was quoted by the Uganda Argus of November 13, 1972, as saying: “The friendship between Uganda and Somalia will never break. Uganda and Somalia are setting a good example to the rest of Africa and I hope that African countries will follow suit.”

This he said while acknowledging that African countries can solve their problems themselves. Indeed, the Mogadishu Accord averted what could have become a costly war for the continent given that Libya had already sent in troops to support Amin’s regime and Zaire was also willing, while Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia were ready to support the invading forces in order to reinstate deposed president Milton Obote.

Jinja barracks renamed Gaddafi

During the burial of some of the soldiers killed during the Mutukula and Mbarara battles at the former Burma cemetery in Jinja, Amin told mourners that the Defence Council and Cabinet had decided that the military barracks in Jinja be renamed from King George VI Barracks to Col Gaddafi in appreciation of the military assistance he gave to Uganda when it was attacked. To this day, it is known as Gaddafi Barracks.

“Libya’s decision to come to Uganda’s aid was very historical and which the people of Uganda must never forget,” Amin was quoted as saying by the Uganda Argus of September 28, 1972.

Road named after Said Barre

In appreciation of Said Barre’s role in mediating a peace deal between Uganda and Tanzania, former Mackinnon Road in Kampala that joins Kampala Road to Nile Avenue was renamed Siad Barre Avenue, a name it carries to date.

As a return to the kind gesture, a road in Mogadishu was named Uganda Road.

During the naming ceremony, according to the Uganda Argus of October 23, 1972, the mayor of Mogadishu, Osman Mohamad, said: “Uganda Road is one of the most important roads in Mogadishu and symbolises true love which the people of Mogadishu and Somalia have for Ugandans.”

Exchange of prisoners of war 

On November 15, 1972, George Joseph Masanza, a Tanzanian spy captured inside Ugandan territory in August 1971, was released from Luzira Maximum Security Prison and handed over to SMOT’s Brig Adow who later handed him over to the Tanzanians.

Earlier on November 2, 1972, four Ugandans taken prisoners by the Tanzanian forces in 1971 were set free. The four were Suleiman Amule, Ali Ramathan, Ali Nasur and Moses Galla.

The four were handed over by the Tanzanian government to acting commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade in Masaka, Maj Isaac Malyamungu, in the presence of Mr Abdurrahman Hussein Mohamed, Somalis ambassador to Tanzania. The hand over was carried out at Mutukula border.

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Somalia seeks help from US firm to further relations

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The Somalia government has retained a former US senator to lobby the Trump administration officials and members of Congress.

Under the terms of a recently signed contract, Somalia is agreeing to pay $120,000 (Sh12m) to a lobbying firm headed by Alfonse Marcello D’Amato, a Republican who represented New York state in the US Senate from 1981 to 1999.

The one-year deal also requires Somalia to reimburse Mr D’Amato’s firm, Park Strategies, for up to $36,000 in expenses such as travel and lodging.

PARK STRATEGIES
Documents on file with the US Justice Department include a pledge by the Somali government not to use foreign aid or humanitarian funds to pay for Mr D’Amato’s services.

“Park Strategies will provide strategic advice, counsel and advocacy to and on behalf of the Somali Republic in a collaborative effort to improve relations between the Somali Republic and the United States government,” the lobbying contract stipulates.

Somalia’s government has a life-or-death interest in ensuring that its relations with the US remain on a positive basis.

AMISOM
The US has provided Somalia with close to $2 billion in development aid and humanitarian relief during the past decade.

In addition, Washington has allocated $900 million in support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), which includes forces from Kenya and four other East African nations.

Another $720 million in US funds have helped finance the United Nations operations in Somalia.

About 500 US troops are now on the ground inside Somalia, providing training and logistical assistance to Somalia’s army in its war against Al-Shabaab.

But this bounty is not entirely secure.

CORRUPTION

Critics in the US suggest that the US should rethink its commitment to Somalia due to evidence of massive corruption on the part of political and military leaders.

State Department and UN reports indicate that Somalia’s army remains incapable of effectively fighting Shabaab on its own despite a decade’s worth of training by US military advisors.

Mr D’Amato, who has remained active in Republican Party affairs, appears well-placed to defend Somalia’s interests in the Republican-controlled Congress.

He is also on friendly terms with the White House, having supported Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency.

FIXER
As one measure of Mr D’Amato’s ability to influence power brokers, he was once paid $500,000 for making a telephone call to a New York transportation official that salvaged a real-estate deal for Mr D’Amato’s client, a Manhattan building owner.

He was in the news more recently for having been ordered to leave a commercial airliner that had been delayed for more than six hours for a January flight from Florida to New York.

Mr D’Amato, 80, got into a verbal altercation with the plane’s crew when he encouraged passengers to ignore the pilot’s request for changes in seating assignments prior to take-off.

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