Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Operation Somalia: The U.S., Ethiopia and now Kenya

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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.

The incidents caused concern over their impact on the country’s vital tourism industry, with Kenya’s forecast 100 billion shillings or revenue this year expected to falter. The likes of Britain and the United States have already issued warnings against travel to some parts of the country.

Kenyans have so far responded with bravado towards their government’s operation against the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group. Local channels regularly show high approval ratings for the campaign, some as high as 98 percent.

from Photographers' Blog:

The children of Dadaab: Life through the lens

Through my video “The children of Dadaab: Life through the Lens” I wanted to tell the story of the Somali children living in Kenya’s Dadaab. Living in the world’s largest refugee camp, they are the ones bearing the brunt of Africa’s worst famine in sixty years.

I wanted to see if I could tell their story through a different lens, showing their daily lives instead of just glaring down at their ribbed bodies and swollen eyes.

from Photographers' Blog:

Me and the man with the iPad

By Barry Malone

I never know how to behave when I go to write about hungry people.

I usually bring just a notebook and a pen because it seems somehow more subtle than a recorder. I drain bottled water or hide it before I get out of the car or the plane. In Ethiopia a few years ago I was telling a funny story to some other journalists as our car pulled up near a church where we had been told people were arriving looking for food.

We got out and began walking towards the place, me still telling the tale, shouting my mouth off, struggling to get to the punch line through my laughter and everybody else’s.

from Photographers' Blog:

AUDIO SLIDESHOW: Two Decades, One Somalia

In the 20 years since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled, Somalia has faced hunger, flooding, fighting, suicide attacks, piracy and insurgency.

Prevailing violent conflict inside Somalia makes it difficult if not impossible for aid agencies to reach people.

Update on the refugee camp that now lives in the sky

- (Updates reaction from ECHO in paragraph 9) 

 

Screen grab of the introduction to the online game "The City That Shouldn't Exist"

A few months ago I wrote a story about a controversial online game posted on Facebook called the “The City That Shouldn’t Exist” that was consequently pulled off the Web days after its launch amid claims it objectified refugees and lacked sensitivity.

Is Eritrean policy shift just “tactical”?

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ALGERIA

Eritrea’s arms seem to have been folded in a sulk for a long time now. The Red Sea state has, for some, taken on the black sheep role in the Horn of Africa family. But President Isaias Afewerki is looking eager to get off the naughty step.

His opponents say he was put there for good reason. Eritrea became increasingly isolated in the region after a 1998 – 2000 border war with neighbouring – and much bigger – Ethiopia.

Why is the world ignoring Somalia?

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somaliaI’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.

Some questions about al-Shabaab

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Have the Islamists started to go too far in Somalia?

The reaction among ordinary Somalis to an al-Shabaab car bomb attack on African Union peacemakers last week may be instructive.

The attack was billed as an act of revenge against America for a commando raid carried out a few days earlier by U.S. troops, who killed one of the most wanted al Qaeda men in Africa.

from Our Take on Your Take:

Too busy with pirates

My initial contact with Abdinasir Mohamed Guled was when he submitted a photo to our user-generated content service, called You Witness at the time, now Your View. The caption read "hi reuters" and the location was listed as Mogadishu suqa holaha district. This was enough to peak my attention.

I spoke with Abdinasir, who at the time was busy covering the story of pirates off the Somali coast. Below is his account of his journey from contributor to You Witness to regular stringer for Reuters.

The cash cost of war

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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.

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