Topic: NGOs
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Two Staff Members Wounded in the Attack

At 5:30pm on Wednesday, three foreign NGOs working for International Aid Service were kidnapped after they returned from a trip to Ba'adweyne in Mudug region 30 kilometers from Galkayo, which borders the Puntland and Galmadug regions. A fourth person, believed to be their driver, was wounded but not abducted. The hostages are believed to be two Kenyans and one Somalia doctor.

Puntland official Jamaa Mohamed told Somalia Report that security guards tried to fight off the armed kidnappers for a few minutes but failed to deter the hijackers. The NGOs were travelling in two vehicles including an escort car with three armed Puntland Police Officers who were overpowered.

Cabdi Xiiso, a pirate in northern Mudug Region, told Somalia Report by phone, "The foreign aid workers are three including one lady, the gangs took these hostages by force from their staff." The aid workers were kidnapped from area between Ba’adweyn and Xarfo in Mudug Region late Wednesday, while they returned from Ba’adweyn and were trying to go back their office in northern Galkayo which is under control of the Puntland Administration.

The kidnappers of these hostages are believed to a group of pirates from the Sacad and Omar Mohamoud clans in the Ba’adweyn area. "They were planning this operations for the last few days. They can move hostages to the sea in Garacad, Dhinooda, Buq and also south where the Sacad has a power clan,” Cabdi Xiiso added.

Galmadug and specifically Galkayo have been the scene of a number of recent high profile kidnaps of foreigners. Michael Scott Moore and two Danish Demining Group employees were both kidnapped on the way to the airport.

A number of foreigners hijacked at sea are kept on land by pirates, among them are crews of the MV Leopard, MV Albedo and two Seychellois fishermen. There are currently just under 300 foreigners held hostage in Somalia, most of them in Galmadug region.

By ABDIQANI DEEQ 07/04/2012
Galmudug's Flag

The Galmudug administration in central Somalia has issued a warning to aid agencies operating in the region, particularly those working in Galkayo, the capital of Galmudug.

The chairman of the Galmudug administration Mr. Max'ud Nuur Gulled, along with other officials, warned aid agencies against holding unauthorized meetings with locals, and indicated that they have gone beyond their mandate. The officials further added that such actions would not be accepted or tolerated.

"We strongly condemn the activities of the aid agencies in our territory. We cannot accept these groups interfering with our internal affairs," the chairman said in a press conference in Galkayo.

The chairman said that any agency that does not meet the required condition of registration, which will authorize and legalize their activities, will be banned and suspended.

The agencies that were were warned include two United Nations agencies, the World Food Programme (UNWFP) and UNICEF, as well as two other nongovernmental aid agencies, namely SOFPA and Relief International.

Abdullahi Mohamed Hassan, the assistant health minister of Galmudug, accused the agencies of corruption and said the humanitarian aid did not reach those most in need.

Galmudug Map
Wiki Map
Galmudug Map

"By asking them to register, this does not mean we are oppressing them. We only want to emphasize and improve their service delivery. Our regulations are not exempted from any agency; rather it applies to all agencies in the region and those that will come in the future," he asserted.

Relief International, which operates in Galmudug, told Somalia Report they had not been notified of any such statement or law.

"We have not received any official notices about this. We operate in the region through express written permission and meet regularly with officials," a Relief International representative told Somalia Report.

Officials have accused aid agencies of enticing and fuelling insecurity in the region. To avert tension, Galmudug came up with measures to regulate the activities of various agencies and ensure that they are in line with mandate and that they don't interfere in the internal affairs of Galmudug and continue with their operation, provided that they are registered.

Residents welcomed the decision and urged the administration to ensure the effectiveness and implementation of the new rules.

"We see the new laws set up by Galmudug as ways to improve coordination between all parties concerned and we welcome it and it will enhance the mode of distribution of aids well," Ali Mohamed told Somalia Report.

Recently, the United Nations Development programme (UNDP) promised to set up exclusive feeding centres, which will be established in drought afflicted regions of Somalia including Galmudug state. This project will see thousands of malnourished children fed and cared for, across all Somali regions. Mark Bowden, UN humanitarian coordinator, visited Galakayo twice and discussed with officials how to ensure and stabilize aid distribution in the region effectively.

Hostages From Norway, Canada, Pakistan and the Philippines
By MHD 06/29/2012
Refugees at Ifto 2 Dadaab Camp
©Somalia Report
Refugees at Ifto 2 Dadaab Camp

Unidentified gunmen today kidnapped four Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) aid workers, including two women, in Dadaab, a Kenyan refugee camp 100km (62 miles) from the Somali border, according to Kenyan police and the NRC.

The aid workers - one Norwegian, two Canadians, and one Philippine national - were kidnapped at Ifo2 West Dadaab refugee camp at 10:00 am local time while preparing to board a convoy to oversee the operations after gunmen managed to enter their compound, according to witnesses who spoke to Somalia Report. Today was reportedly the first day of their visit to the camp after arriving from Nairobi.

AP reported that one of the Canadians is of Pakistani origin.

Among those kidnapped were the Head of Emergency Program, Stephen Denis (Norway), Shelter Project Officer, Glenn Costes (Philippines), Assistant Country Director, Korat Sadazi (Canada) and Astrid Shel, a livelihood officer whose name is yet to be confirmed, according to sources who spoke to Somalia Report. NRC has not yet confirmed the identity of the aid workers. NRC Secretary General Elisabeth Rasmusson and Country Director Hassan Khaire were there, and are both unhurt and in safety, according to the NRC.

The four were getting in a vehicle with "UNHCR property" painted on the sides when gunmen shot the driver, Abdi Ali, a Kenyan, according to sources who spoke to Somalia Report.

"I was inside agency compound. The aid workers just left after breakfast. I heard the sound of bullets just as they got in their vehicles. I heard shouting. The gunmen ordered them to hurry and get into a car and then they yelled at us to lie down. I was shocked and I laid down on my chest," recalled the witness.

"After they left, I witnessed a dying soul today (Inalilaahi wa ina illeyhi raajiun) - the driver - and two people who were also injured," the witness told Somalia Report.

Abdirizack Ibrahim (Kabahay) was seriously injured at the stomach while the identity and injuries sustained by the second victim are unknown. Efforts are underway to airlift the injured to Nairobi for medical attention.

Another witness, however, said the ambush happened while the vehicles were moving.

"The four were part of the delegation from NRC who were going to Ifo refugee camp to pick police for field visits but were abducted on the way before they could reach the police post," an aid worker who sought anonymity told Xinhua by telephone.

The Kenyan military, which has troops in Somalia as part of the African Union peacekeeping mission, and police immediately launched a massive manhunt for the suspects and hostages.

"I can confirm that military helicopters have been dispatched," Colonel Cyrus Oguna of the Kenya Defence Forces told Reuters.

The UNHCR vehicle was reportedly found abandoned 20km from the camp.

Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut
Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut

Although the gunmen remain unidentified, fingers are pointing to al-Shabaab, the hardline Islamist group battling for control of Somalia and linked to al-Qaeda. The group has suffered territorial and financial loses in recent months as allied forces advance to their stronghold in Kismayo, a port city in Somalia's Lower Juba region. Most recently the group threatened to attack targets in Kenya in retaliation for their involvement in Somalia.

Last October, two Spanish aid workers from MSF, Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut, were kidnapped from Dadaab camp and are still being held in Somalia.

Dadaab, was set up in 1991 and shelters nearly 500,000 refugees, recognized as the largest refugee camp in the world mainly those who fled famine and war in neighboring Somalia.

Somalia Report will continue to monitor developments.

2 Drivers, 2 Vehicles Rented by Save the Children Released for $10,000
By JD 05/20/2012

On Saturday afternoon (May 19th), Somali pirates released two drivers and two cars rented by the non-governmental organizations Save the Children and Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Agency (HADMA) after seizing them in an ambush near Isku-shuban, in the Bari region of Puntland, last Monday, pirates and local officials confirmed to Somalia Report.

“Yes, it’s true pirates released the hijacked cars from Save the Children. The two cars with their drivers arrived in Isku-shuban Saturday afternoon. Elders from the region played a role in the negotiations,” Mohamed Ahmed Samatar (Liligo), a police officer based in Isku-shuban, told Somalia Report.

Pirates told Somalia Report that ransom was paid for the release of the men and cars.

“The cars and drivers were released after at least $10,000 ransom was paid. The government paid the ransom to release these cars because they were rented by Save the Children which operates in the region doing humanitarian operations,” said a pirate based in the region.

Puntland officials, however, denied paying the ransom.

"Yes, a ransom was paid, but the government did not pay it. As we know, this conflict is between a group of pirates. One pirate group paid the ransom to another," said the police officer.

The man behind the carjacking is a pirate leader with the name of Abshir Gardheere (Garweyen) who hails from Ali Saleban clan. The hijacking was revenge for an incident in which Abshir's 4WD SURF was carjacked 10 months ago by pirate crew members who hail from the Osman Mohamud subclan after a disagreement over ransom shares. That SURF was stolen from Xiriiro and brought to Qardho at that time. Abshir asked clan elders to negotiate for the return of his car, but they failed. Abshir vowed to retaliate by carjacking Osman Mohamud owned vehicles that transit into his clan territory and it appears today he was successful.

The cars was transferred to their owners, local businessmen.

Save the Children has not yet commented on the release.

Cars and Staff Ambushed in Puntland's Bari Region as Pirate Revenge

Armed Somali pirates ambushed two Land Cruisers rented by the non-governmental organization Save the Children and Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Agency (HADMA) and seized the two drivers and passengers in Kiiley village, 30 km from Iskushuban (Iscuscuiban), district in Puntland's Bari region, while they were traveling to the port city of Bosaso on Monday, according to the Puntland officials.

Other reports indicate the incident occurred in Timirshe just north of Isku-Shuban, near the Golis mountains. Somalia Report is working to verify the location. Timirshe is also the site of the recent movement by the Puntland Marine Police Force. A third source said it occurred in Biki 20kms, northeast of Iskushuban.

Ahmed Mohamed, a police officer in Iskushuban police told Somalia Report that pirates fired on the vehicles, forcing them to stop. After the staff were removed from the vehicles and temporarily held they were freed and transferred to Qardo by commercial bus and are safe. Pirates are still holding the drivers and the vehicles, one of which is reportedly owned by MJ/ Osman Mohamoud.

"The two cars were belong to two different businessmen in Qardo district, but they were rented by Save the Children Agency. A group of pirates led by a well-known pirate called Garweyne fired at the cars and then robbed them. There are no casualties, but it is unclear why pirates robbed the cars," the police officer told Somalia Report.

He added the pirates are now in Hiriro village, but Puntland forces cannot pursue them as they have no access to the area. The village inhabitants are Ali Saleban clan (sub-clan of Majerten) and the elders in Iskushuban are making efforts to free the two vehicles, which may occur tomorrow, according to a Save the Children employee in Gardho.

The man behind the carjacking is a pirate leader with the name of Abshir Gardheere (called Garweyen above) who hails from Ali Saleban clan. The hijacking was revenge for Abshir's 4WD SURF carjacked 10 months ago by pirate crew members who hail from the Osman Mohamud subclan after a disagreement over ransom shares. That SURF was stolen from Xiriiro and brought to Qardho at that time. Abshir asked clan elders to negotiate for the return of his car, but they failed. Abshir vowed to retaliate by carjacking Osman Mohamud owned vehicles that transit into his clan territory and it appears today he was successful.

It is unknown if any Save the Children or HADMA staff were involved in the incident.

Calls and emails to Save the Children have gone unreturned, but we will update this as more information becomes available.