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Somaliland ravaged by crippling drought, with families left without food or income



With hundreds of thousands of cattle dying in one of the worst droughts on record, the people of self-declared state Somaliland are struggling without income or food.
The self-declared state of Somaliland is ravaged by one of the worst droughts on records.

Hundreds of thousands of cattle have died, leaving families without income or food. More than 3.2 million people across Somaliland and Somalia need urgent food aid.

The drought has led to outbreaks of deadly diseases, such as cholera and Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD).

Hundreds of thousands of children are also suffering from malnutrition.

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991.

It has its own government, security forces and currency. But, it has failed to gain recognition from the international community.

It is now struggling to secure enough aid to keep hundreds of thousands of hungry citizens alive.

Somaliland is home to an estimated 4.4 million people. Many are pastoralists, relying on cattle for their income and survival.

Unlike Somalia, which has been wracked by terrorism, Somaliland has not had a major attack since 2008.
Some families have lost up to 90 per cent of their livestock because of the drought, leaving them without income, assets or food.
More than 50,000 cases of suspected cholera and AWD have been reported in Somalia and Somaliland since January.

A state of emergency was declared in the city of Burao, which has been hit hard by the outbreaks.

Women and children are the most vulnerable. More than 3.2 million people are in urgent need of assistance.

On average, families are spending more than half of their income on drinking water, because of the drought. Rains have failed to provide adequate supply for the past two years.

More than 700,000 people have been displaced by drought and hunger. Many have gathered in vast camps for Internally Displaced People (IDPs), where they are hoping to receive emergency food and water.

More than 1.4 million children in Somalia and Somaliland are at risk of acute malnutrition.

The hospital at Burao is dealing with three times as many suspected cases of cholera and AWD compared to last year. It has run out of funds to provide free treatment.

The staff haven’t been paid in the past month.

More than 730 people have died of suspected cholera and AWD across Somalia since January.

Briefing Room

US Defense Secretary Optimistic About Improving Somalia Accountability



PENTAGON — U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Friday that he was optimistic about improving Somali accountability concerning the distribution of American aid to Somali armed forces, much of which was suspended because of corruption concerns.

“I’m sure we can get this thing under control, even if it’s not for the whole, but for parts of it,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

The suspension reflected the Somali military’s repeated inability to account for aid items, such as food, fuel and weapons.

‘Pause’ in assistance

The massive “pause” in aid is being made “to ensure that U.S. assistance is being used effectively and for its intended purpose,” a State Department official said.

It will “affect the majority of U.S. logistical support and stipends assistance” to the Somali armed forces “until additional transparency and accountability measures are in place,” Marion Wohlers, the spokesperson for African affairs at the State Department, told VOA.

The Somali government has agreed to develop new accountability criteria that meet American standards, a State Department official said.

Mattis said changing a “culture of corruption” takes time, adding that Somalia had “finally got a president worth supporting.”
“We have a good relationship with President [Mohamed Abdullahi] Farmajo and his administration, but as you know, he inherited a very difficult situation,” Mattis said.

Some assistance to continue

Somali security force members who are actively fighting al-Shabab and receiving some form of mentorship from either the U.S. or a third party will continue to receive appropriate assistance, officials said.

According to documents obtained by the Reuters news agency, the Somali military has been unable to properly feed, pay or equip its soldiers, despite having received hundreds of millions of dollars of American support.

A U.S.-Somali team sent to nine Somali army bases between May and June of this year found that evidence of the arrival of food aid or its consumption by soldiers was present at only two of the bases, Reuters reported.

Plans to suspend the support will be a “big setback” to the effort by Somali security forces to fight al-Shabab, warned former Somali Defense Minister General Abdulkadir Ali Dini.

Dini, who worked closely with American officials in Somalia for many years, first as chief of the Somali national army and later as defense minister, said the decision did not come at the right time.

“If the United States suspends food, fuel and stipends, that will hamper the war and work against the enemy and terrorists,” he said. “It does not help these operations, and it damages morale.”

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Briefing Room

US orders new probe on alleged massacre in Somalia



DAILY NATION — The head of the US Africa Command on Thursday ordered a new investigation of claims that US troops massacred 10 civilians in an August raid on a farm in central Somalia.

The move by Africom Commander Gen Thomas Waldhauser follows media reports that children were among those killed in an attack based on faulty intelligence.

“Gen Waldhauser referred the matter to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to ensure a full exploration of the facts given the gravity of the allegations,” Africom said in a statement.

It added that “Africom takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and will leverage the expertise of appropriate organisations to ensure such allegations are fully and impartially investigated.”

Africom had said soon after the August 25 raid that all the dead were “armed enemy combatants.”

A pair of recent reports in the Daily Beast, a New York-based online news site, cited accounts by eyewitnesses and Somali officials of unprovoked killings of farmers in the US raid carried out in conjunction with Somali soldiers.

“These local farmers were attacked by foreign troops while looking after their crops,” Ali Nur Mohamed, deputy governor of the Lower Shabelle region where the attack occurred, had earlier told reporters in Mogadishu.

“The troops could have arrested them because they were unarmed but instead shot them one by one mercilessly,” Mr Mohamed added as 10 corpses were displayed in the Somali capital soon after the raid.

Africom’s acknowledgment that further investigation is warranted comes at a time of growing and shifting US involvement in the war against Al-Shabaab.


Defence Department officials have presented President Trump with a plan for less restrictive US military operations in Somalia during the next two years, the New York Times reported on December 10.

The proposed initiative would give greater discretion to US field commanders in launching strikes and rescind the State Department’s ability to pause offensive military operations in response to perceived problems, the Times said.

US forces have carried out about 30 airstrikes so far this year in Somalia — twice as many as in 2016. More than 500 US soldiers have also been dispatched to Somalia to assist in the fight against Shabaab.

Conversely, Washington is simultaneously suspending food and fuel payments to most units of the Somalia National Army (SNA) due to concerns over rampant corruption, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Only those SNA units mentored by US instructors will continue to receive the stipends, the report said.

“Documents sent from the US Mission to Somalia to the Somali government show US officials are increasingly frustrated that the military is unable to account for its aid,” Reuters said.

“The documents paint a stark picture of a military hollowed out by corruption, unable to feed, pay or arm its soldiers — despite hundreds of millions of dollars of support.”


A team of US and Somali officials who visited nine SNA bases earlier this year reported that expected consignments of food aid could not be found, Reuters revealed. The best-staffed base visited by the team had 160 SNA soldiers present out of a total officially listed at 550. Only 60 of the soldiers had weapons, Reuters said.

“The SNA is a fragile force with extremely weak command and control,” said an earlier leaked assessment by the African Union, United Nations and Somali government. “They are incapable of conducting effective operations or sustaining themselves.”

Kenyan forces have also been cited for allegedly failing to carry out assigned duties in Somalia.

A report last month by UN monitors charged that Kenyan troops operating under African Union command have failed to assist authorities in blocking illicit charcoal exports that are said to earn al-Shabaab at least $10 million a year.

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Briefing Room

Somalia Inaugurated a President, Dealt With Terrorism & Reeled From Drought in 2017



In 2017, Somalia elected a new president as it battled severe drought and a resurgent al-Shabab. In October, the worst terror attack in the country’s history killed more than 500 people. Meanwhile, the U.S. military is ramping up its military operations as the African Union draws down its 10-year-old peacekeeping mission. From Nairobi, Jill Craig has more.

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