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Young people can 'open new chapter' for Somalia, UN Youth envoy says in Mogadishu
2 October 2014 - The United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi on a trip to Somalia this week reiterated his unwavering commitment to empowering young people to participate in development and peace processes, calling them the long-troubled country's 'biggest asset'. Meeting with the UN officials in Somalia, Mr Alhendawi reiterated support for two initiatives: a comprehensive strategy on youth that aims at increasing youth participation in governance processes, prevent violence and promote reintegration, stimulate employment and economic empowerment of youth including through providing employment skills to the youth. (more)

Somali warlord agrees to talks, boosts government peace efforts
31 August 2014 - A Somali clan leader who fought for years to retake a strategic southern port city he once controlled has laid down arms and joined talks, bolstering government efforts to show it can restore order to a chaotic nation. The African Union force AMISOM, which has been involved in reconciliation efforts, said Barre Hirale and nearly 100 members of his militia gave up their weapons on Saturday after discussions with clan elders and Somali federal government delegations. (more)

Somalia ambassador arrives in US
14 July 2014 - Somalia has posted an ambassador to the United States for the first time in more than 20 years. It is a step forward in a nearly two-year effort to improve relations between the US and Somalia as the war-ravaged African nation struggles to regain stability against extremist attacks and a weak government. The US Embassy closed in 1991 when Somalia's government collapsed in civil war. (more)

Somalia: New Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed
21 December 2013 - The top United Nations official in Somalia congratulated Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, who was appointed on 21 December following a vote in the Federal Parliament, calling the process a key step heading into 2014, which will be 'pivotal year' for the country. (more)

Agreement ends fight over Somali port city
28 August 2013 - Officials say Somalia's government has signed a deal over the administration of a southern port to end months of dispute that threatened wider conflict in the region. According to an agreement signed Wednesday, officials meeting in Ethiopia agreed to a two-year Interim Jubba Administration, a leadership period that would pave the way for the creation of a federal state controlled by the central government. (more)

Somalia to restart mail after 22-year hiatus
26 April 2013 - Somalis may soon be receiving letters from abroad for the first time in more than 20 years after a deal was struck with the United Nations' postal agency, the latest step towards ending Somalia's isolation following two decades of civil conflict. The Swiss-based Universal Postal Union said in a statement on Friday that international postal services could start operating again in Somalia within the next few months. (more)

Somalia: Mogadishu festival helps move past sounds of war
8 April 2013 - Mogadishu's first music festival in decades acted as another step in moving past a city soundscape once filled with gunfire and mortar shells. The Reconciliation Music Festival was organized by a Somali rap group who moved overseas, Waayaha Cusub. Last week's performances attracted international artists to a capital city that until recently was music-free. (more)

Donors step up ties with Somalia; praise rebuilding efforts
28 February 2013 - Major Western donors have stepped up efforts in recent weeks to reengage with Somalia, opening the way for increased development assistance to a country trying to shake off years of conflict. A senior British official said in Washington that London will host a conference with the new Somali government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on 7 May. (more)

Somalia: Somalis enjoy first major music concert in two decades
20 February 2013 - Music is back in Mogadishu after being banned by Islamists who controlled much of south and central Somalia two years ago. A concert this week saw a top Somali performer appear before a happy crowd, which included government officials. Mogadishu has seen rapid growth and developments in the music sector as Somali singers based in the diaspora have returned to entertain Somalis in the capital Mogadishu -- a hugely symbolical and significant gesture. (more)

US/Somalia: Minnesota congressman arrives in Mogadishu
20 February 2013 - A US congressman visited Somalia's capital on Tuesday, the first visit in years by a member of Congress to what until recently was considered one of the world's most dangerous cities. Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, said his visit to Mogadishu fulfilled a request from his constituents with ties to Somalia. Minnesota has one of the largest populations of Somali-Americans in the US. Ellison was greeted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The President said that Ellison's visit was a big day for Somalia. (more)


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U.N. warns of famine risk in Somalia amid worsening drought
17 January 2017 - Somalia risks slipping back into famine, the United Nations, said on Tuesday, as worsening drought has left millions without food, water, or healthcare in a country crippled by decades of war. ... Famine last struck pockets of Somalia in 2011, killing 260,000 people. It was caused by drought, conflict, and a ban on food aid in territory held by [the Islamist militant group] al Shabaab . (more)

World's last wild frankincense forests are under threat
24 December 2016 - In a tradition dating to Biblical times, men rise at dawn in the rugged Cal Madow mountains of Somaliland in the Horn of Africa to scale rocky outcrops in search of the prized sap of wild frankincense trees. When dried and burned, the sap produces a fragrant smoke which perfumes churches and mosques around the world. But now these last intact wild frankincense forests on Earth are under threat as prices have shot up in recent years with the global appetite for essential oils. Overharvesting has led to the trees dying off faster than they can replenish, putting the ancient resin trade at risk. (more)

Islamist rebels attack intelligence site in Somalia
31 August 2014 - Islamist rebels blew up a car bomb and gunmen attacked a national intelligence site in Somalia's capital where suspected militants are held, in an assault on Sunday that left at least 12 people dead. Three soldiers and two civilians were killed along with seven militants, including the suicide bomber who detonated the vehicle packed with explosives, government officials said. One intelligence officer, who identified himself only as Nur, told Reuters the gunmen had entered one building, forcing security personnel to fight room-to-room to clear them out. 'All the attackers perished in the end,' Nur said. Some of the attackers wore stolen uniforms of the security forces, the Information Ministry said in a statement, adding that all the militants were killed with 45 minutes of the attack starting. It said the two civilians killed had been passers-by. Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's spokesman for military operations, told Reuters the group was behind the attack, the latest in a series of raids in Mogadishu in recent months, including a July assault on the presidential compound. (more)

UN warns of alarming malnutrition rates in Somali capital
27 July 2014 - The United Nations has reported alarming rates of malnutrition in the Somali capital where aid agencies cannot meet the needs of 350,000 people due to insufficient funds, drought, and conflict. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the Somali government had compared the situation to the run-up to a 2011 famine that killed 260,000 people. The United Nations has sought to improve its early warning mechanisms after its failure to spot indications of crisis in 2010 was blamed for the scale of the famine that followed in a nation torn apart by years of conflict. 'Alarming rates of malnutrition have been observed among displaced communities in Mogadishu,' OCHA said in a report released at the weekend, citing a study by a unit of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization. It said aid agencies were unable to meet the needs of 350,000 people who had fled to Mogadishu, saying the aid organizations faced a shortage of funds and violence in the capital that could restrict deliveries. (more)

Somalia: Islamist rebels in Somalia kill three as Ramadan starts
29 June 2014 - Islamist rebels shot dead three members of Somalia's security forces in the capital on Sunday, police and witnesses said on the first day of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month when insurgents had warned they would stage attacks. The government and African Union peacekeepers have stepped up security to try to prevent assaults during the month by the Islamist al Shabaab group, which has waged a seven-year campaign to impose its strict interpretation of Islamic law. Al Shabaab has a strong presence in the north of the capital, residents say. The group claimed responsibility for all three killings. 'This marks the beginning of our operations. More are to follow,' the spokesman for al Shabaab's military operations, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, told Reuters. Al Shabaab also staged a series of gun and bomb attacks last year during Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. (more)

Al Shabaab attacks Somali parliament, at least 10 dead
24 May 2014 - Al Shabaab militants stormed Somalia's parliament on Saturday, killing at least 10 security officers in a bomb and gun assault that the United States condemned as a 'heinous act of terrorism'. The attack started with a car bomb at a gate to the heavily fortified parliament compound, followed by a suicide bombing and then a gun battle that continued for hours. Al Shabaab is an al Qaeda-linked group that killed 67 people at a Kenyan shopping mall last year. The attack on parliament, a building about 300 metres (328 yards) from the President's palace that is guarded by African Union peacekeepers and Somali forces, showed that the al Qaeda-linked group remained capable of hitting the centre of Mogadishu despite being pushed out of the capital two years ago. Somalia's government is struggling to impose any sense of order, more than two decades after the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre tipped the country into chaos. (more)

Somalia: Bomb planted in government vehicle kills five
3 May 2014 - Five people died and six others were wounded when a bomb exploded in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, an official said Saturday. A top police officer, who was the apparent target of the attack, was among the five killed, said Captain Mohamed Hussein, a senior police official. Somalia's Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack which killed police officer Abdikafi Hilowle. The Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants are waging an insurgency against Somalia's weak, United Nations-backed government. Al-Shabab has resorted to terror attacks in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, since African Union troops backing the Somali government pushed the militants from the city in 2011. Somalia is struggling to rebuild after decades of conflict following the ouster of the dictator Siad Barre in 1991. (more)

UN monitors warn of 'systematic' Somali arms diversion
13 February 2014 - A confidential UN monitors' report warns of 'systematic abuses' by Somalia's government, which the monitors say has allowed the diversion of weapons that Somali authorities purchased after the UN Security Council eased an arms embargo on Mogadishu last year. Some of the arms believed to have been diverted were earmarked for a leader of the al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group al Shabaab, the monitors said in their report, which was obtained by Reuters. In its 14-page report to the Security Council's sanctions committee, the UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group recommends either restoring the full arms embargo or at least tightening notification and reporting requirements related to arms deliveries. The new report details difficulties the monitors have had in getting access to weapons stockpiles in Somalia and information about its growing arsenal. It says the government cancelled several inspections of armories that the monitors and UN officials had planned to undertake. (more)

Smuggling cartels, militants hinder revival of Somali port
4 December 2013 - Al Qaeda-linked militants, drug smugglers, and shadowy criminal networks stand in the way of the Somali federal government's hopes of hiring a foreign firm to manage the lucrative but run-down southern port of Kismayu. One of only three deep-water ports in Somalia, Kismayu's proximity to northern Kenya and Ethiopia has for decades made it integral to a thriving business smuggling arms, sugar, and increasingly narcotics across porous east African borders. Foreign powers trying to curb militant Islam in Somalia fret about the money-spinning charcoal trade that remains a big earner for the Islamist group al Shabaab. The UN Security Council has banned charcoal exports but the trade continues unabated in areas where the government holds little influence. Rehabilitating the port is not only essential for generating new state revenues and creating jobs for former Islamist fighters, it is also vital to cutting off a steady flow of cash to al Shabaab, which showcased its threat to regional stability with September's bloody attack on a Nairobi mall. (more)

Suicide bomber kills 16 in Somali cafe attack aimed at foreign troops
19 October 2013 - A suicide bomber killed at least 16 people on Saturday in an attack on a cafe in a Somali town close to the Ethiopian border frequented by local and foreign soldiers fighting al Qaeda-linked rebels. Al Shabaab said it had carried out the bombing, in the town of Baladweyne, targeting troops participating in an African Union peacekeeping force fighting the Somali Islamist group. At least 16 people were killed and 33 wounded, local politician Dahir Amin Jesow told Reuters by telephone from Baladweyne. 'The death toll may rise.' Somali and African forces pushed Al Shabaab out of Baladweyne, about 210 miles north of Mogadishu, more than a year ago. But while the territory that al Shabaab controls has greatly dwindled over the past two years, it continues to control large rural areas and some towns and has ratcheted up guerrilla-style attacks. (more)

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