Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
By Alex Whiting
Jan 26 (AlertNet) – Where most expat aid workers fear to tread in Mogadishu, recently arrived Turkish aid workers have been driving in the streets, swimming in the sea and praying in local mosques.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visited Somalia in August, the first head of a non-African state to do so for nearly 20 years. The Turks have since opened an embassy, started work on the international airport, offered Somalis university places in Turkey and made plans to build a new hospital.
“Turkey is an animating force in Somalia … The people honestly love them,” said Mustakim Waid, who worked in Mogadishu for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) — the second-largest intergovernmental organisation after the United Nations.
From Turkey to Brazil, India to Saudi Arabia, a growing number of non-Western donors are bringing fresh funds, a different mindset and their own experience of managing natural disasters to the global humanitarian aid scene.
By Abdi Sheikh
MOGADISHU, Jan 26 (AlertNet) – Nurto Isak’s food rations are feeding her, her three children, and — she suspects — the militiamen guarding the camp in Mogadishu where she and other uprooted Somalis have taken refuge.
The city is host to more than 180,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) who, like Isak, have fled a killer combination of conflict, drought and hunger back home.
By Aaron Maasho
Ethiopia did it five years ago, the Americans a while back. Now Kenya has rolled tanks and troops across its arid frontier into lawless Somalia, in another campaign to stamp out a rag-tag militia of Islamist rebels that has stoked terror throughout the region with threats of strikes.
The catalyst for Nairobi’s incursion was a series of kidnappings by Somali gunmen on its soil. A Frenchwoman was bundled off to Somalia from northern Kenya, while a British woman and two female aid workers from Spain, abducted from a refugee camp inside Kenya, are also being held across the border.
I’m blogging from the African Union’s annual summit in Addis Ababa and can see the Somali delegation from where I’m sitting. They’re mingling right now, cups of coffee and croissants in hand, pressing the flesh and smiling and joking with leaders and ministers from all over the continent and beyond. Delegates are responding warmly to the men who represent a government hemmed into only a few streets of the capital Mogadishu as they fight an increasingly vicious Islamist rebellion.
But you get the sense the other delegates are responding so warmly to compensate for something: The fact that the Somalis are here looking for help and nobody is really willing to stick their neck out and give it to them.
We often hear of the human cost of war. We don’t often see the cash cost laid out so baldly as in the price list that went with my colleague Abdi Sheikh’s feature from Mogadishu on the arms market that thrives in the city amid Somalia’s tragedy.
Among popular weapons, a 120 mm mortar costs $700, plus $55 for each mortar bomb. A 23 mm anti-aircraft gun (truck mounted), fetches a hefty $20,000.
A new spate of attacks on shipping has made it quite clear that Somali pirates are not going to stop their activities just now, even though military operations by the United States and France have killed five of the buccaneers.
The international naval flotilla is stretched to protect the thousands of ships that use the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
How times change. Somalia’s new Islamist president has been feted in Ethiopia, whose army drove him from power two years ago – with Washington’s backing – when he headed a sharia courts movement.
Sheikh Sharif Ahmed was greeted with a standing ovation from African Union leaders at a summit in Ethiopia, which pulled the last of its troops out of Somalia last month, leaving the government in control of little beyond parts of Mogadishu. The hardline Islamist al Shabaab militia control much of the rest of southern Somalia.
The withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia has left a nation beset by conflict for nearly two decades at a crossroads.
Ethiopia invaded to oust Islamists from the capital, but insurgents still control much of southern Somalia and more hardline groups that worry Washington have flourished during the two-year intervention.
The news from Somalia seems to be relentlessly negative, writes Reuters Somalia correspondent Guled Mohamed. So it has been for the best part of 17 years since warlords overran the country in 1991 to usher in the modern period of chaos in this part of the Horn of Africa.