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Wednesday: April 2, 2014 

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in Mogadishu (3)

Tuesday
Feb212012

Signs of Progress Amid the Chaos of Mogadishu

By Nazanine Moshiri in Africa 

Somali families fled from al-Shabaab held towns after the group was reported to have joined ranks with al Qaeda (AlJazeera)

We are on the maiden flight of Jetlink Express - from Nairobi to Mogadishu. Along for the ride, a few hardened journalists, and mainly diaspora Somalis, returning home, some for the first time in almost 10 years.

Somalia's Transitional Federal Government has a message for the World, Mogadishu is safe and, crucially, open for business.

It is as important point to get across. Somalis living abroad send around a billion dollars home every year.

If they actually start heading home, and staying, well, then that investment could double.

Driving around the capital Mogadishu, there is plenty of activity.

Freshly painted luxury villas are popping up everywhere; one close to airport has a price tag of half a million dollars.

But most are lying empty, landlords have invested in the hope that the Turks with their good intentions, or eventually the United Nations will take their building over.

But there is one entity that stands in the way of all this planned order and peace. The Islamist group al-Shabab is promising to step up its bombing campaign in the run up to the London Somalia conference on February 23rd.

They have warned  "all Muslims of Somalia to stay away from the enemy bases in order to avoid being unintentional victims of this new campaign".

On Friday February 17, Shabab managed to sneak a car laden with explosives into Mogadishu's Central Intelligence building.

According to authorities, two of the group's members stole mobile phones as a ruse to get themselves arrested, and get their vehicle inside. The explosives were then detonated by remote control injuring several soldiers.

Attacks thwarted

Since I arrived here last week, several car bombs have been discovered, just in time, before they could wreak any major damage.

Deputy Commander Colonel Omar Mohamed, is worried. He believes "al Shabab are hiding themselves among people returning" from the Afgoye corridor just outside Mogadishu.

It isn't difficult for them to do, thousands of people have been fleeing the region, concerned about an imminent attack by the African Union.

The security situation has overshadowed any political progress that may have been made in Garowe, the capital of Puntland - a region of north-east Somalia, which declared itself an autonomous state in August 1998.

For three days Somali leaders gathered there to discuss what will replace the current transitional government, whose mandate comes to an end in August.

It concluded Somalia would become a federal state, with Mogadishu as the federal capital. The meeting comes days before a London conference, where heads of states and Somali representatives will gather to discuss the future of the country.

The British Foreign Minister calls the London conference, a "moment of opportunity", but for Somalis who have lived through twenty years of civil war, there is a sense of deja vu.

There have been so many conferences, and so many agreements that have come to nothing.

Every time I come back to Somalia - what never ceases to surprise me is that amid all this uncertainty and violence - life goes on.

"Welcome to Mogadishu", someone shouts out, as I walk around the city. I can't tell who, as the sun is so bright it almost blinds me.

- Originally published by AlJazeera under Creative Commons License 

Tuesday
Nov152011

Mogadishu: Five Years On (REPORT) 

By Nazanine Moshiri in Africa 

There is a reason why Al Jazeera English chose Mogadishu as one of the cities from which to launch its new channel. The conflict in Somalia is one of the longest running in Africa, and one of the most under reported. The Somali people have lived without a central government for 20 years. War and famine have claimed perhaps a million lives.

When my colleague Mohammed Adow reported from the streets of Mogadishu on November 15, 2006, the Islamic Courts Union was in control of the city and much of Southern Somalia. 

At the time, Adow painted this picture in his report:

Before the Islamic Courts took control of Mogadishu, it would be too dangerous to venture out. The chaotic streets were ruled by dangerous militia men. Today one of the world’s most dangerous cities has been tamed.”

Having spoken to vendors in Mogadishu’s Bakara market on November 15, 2011, they agreed.

Yes, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) implemented strict Sharia law. It was against dancing, television and music. That would have scared most moderate Muslims, but Somalis were willing to put up with it because the ICU ended the rule of Somalia’s dreaded warlords, who would kill, torture and rape.

As long as people were not being killed and they had the opportunity to go about their businesses peacefully, most were ready to comply.

Tony Burns, the operations director for SAACID, Somalia’s oldest NGO, reflects: “Under the Islamic Courts Union, Mogadishu was peaceful and secure. There was a sense of law and order.  For the first time in decades the diaspora was returning to Mogadishu.”

Just a few months later, Ethiopia – backed by Washington – invaded. There was concern that Somalia would become a hotbed for extremists around the world. 

It was a self-fulfilling prophesy. The ICU was replaced by al-Shabab, which has become a far greater threat. Its fighters are loyal to al-Qaeda and their battle for control of Somalia has raged on for the last five years, killing tens of thousands of people.

Al-Shabab, once seen as a defender of Somalia against Ethiopian aggression, has lost much of its popularity because of its reluctance to allow aid to reach the victims of the country's famine. In August, it decided to withdraw from Mogadishu, which meant losing its economic and strategic strongholds, like Bakara market and Mogadishu's stadium. 

Al-Shabab is much weaker now, but the atmosphere on the streets of Mogadishu is still one of apprehension.

In Bakara market, no one dared talk to us on camera. One trader selling shoes told me that if he is seen speaking to a foreigner journalist in the morning, by the afternoon al-Shabab would send someone to pick him up and he would be executed.

As a foreign journalist in Mogadishu, you either travel in an African Union armored personnel carrier or with private security – that means on average 10 to 15 armed guys.

The Somali people don’t have that luxury. Every day they face the threat of suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices (IED), grenade attacks and shootings.

Everyone you speak to in Mogadishu will tell you that peace and security are what they want. Only then can they begin to rebuild what was once one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Originally published by Al Jazeera under Creative Commons Licensing

Friday
Aug052011

Famine in Somalia: Children Pay the Greatest Price (NEWS BRIEF) 

(HN, August 5, 2011) The International Red Cross is asking for $86 million in donations to help feed the people of Somalia.

Many Somalis, starving and searching for safety, are risking their lives to get to camps which are now spreading all over the capital of Mogadishu. Others continue to cross into Kenya and taking up residence in Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp which is currently home to 420,000 people. It’s official capacity is 90,000.

Children are paying the greatest price in this crisis. The United Nations says 640,000 children are acutely malnourished and calculates that, in the worst hit areas, ten percent of children under the age of 5 could perish in the coming weeks.

The U.S. estimates the drought and famine in Somalis have killed more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 in the last 90 days in southern Somalia alone.

World Food Program Executive Director, Josette Sheeren, warned in a article published on the WFP site on July 24th that “In the Horn (of Africa), we could lose a generation. Those that survive could be affected deeply” she said. It is particularly critical for young children to get the nutrition they need as their brains develop.  

To make matters worse access to aid is a huge problem in Somalia. David Orr, of the WFP told Al Jazeera that the largest problem continues to be access – “the worst of the famine, which is in the south is very difficult area to access”.

The access to aid is primarily impeded by the hardline Islamic militant group al-Shabaab, whose control of much of southern Somalia and ties to al-Qaeda discourages Western aid.

The U.N. refugee agency reported on Friday that al-Shabaab is boosting its ranks in the region by giving people money at a time of rising food prices and as other options dwindle for Somali families who cannot find handouts or afford to pay for food themselves.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State  Hillary Clinton called on the militant organization al-Shabaab, which controls much of the southern section of Somalia, to offer Western aid workers “unfettered access” to more than three million famine victims.

On Friday Hillary Clinton said Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, will visit Kenya this weekend to lead a U.S. fact-finding mission to East Africa to see what more America can do help victims of the famine sweeping the region.

The foreign minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, called for an urgent meeting of Muslim nations to discuss the famine in Africa. He said the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation could meet in Istanbul or in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, to discuss the crisis.  

 -      To help and learn more about aid needed in Somalia and the Horn of Africa click here and here

 -      HUMNews Staff