Posts by MJ

Urgent Help Needed for Residents, Heath Problems Increase
05/28/2011
Floods in Beyla District
Floods in Beyla District

Five villages around the rural area of the Beyla district in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland were badly affected by the rains and subsequent flooding. Hundreds of local families have lost their homes and are suffering from health problems after rains pounded the area for more than four consecutive days.

Said Antena, the mayor of Beyla district, told Somalia Report that three people died due to the rains in the last two weeks and the floods destroyed number of houses in Bacad village, approximately 50km south of Beyla. He also said urgent support is needed by the affected communities.

Dhabareey, the area's oldest elder at 101 years of age, was taken and killed by the floods as he stood outside his house.

Residents in Bacad, Dhuhun and Hagla villages said much of their livestock, weakened by the drought, were killed by the floods, when they were contacted by Somalia Report's correspondent.

Officials in Alula district said the only road that links a number of villages far from the coastal area have been blocked by the floods. The lorries cannot delivery supplies to areas which desperately need them.

Two old houses collapsed during the rain while the families were in those building. No deaths were reported, but two women were injured.

House Collapsed from Heavy Rain
©Somalia Report
House Collapsed from Heavy Rain

Omar Abdulahi, a member of a local NGO that works for the social affairs in Alula distrct, told Somalia Report that rains caused new environmental conditions including a lack of sanitation that can result in diseases.

On a positive note, the local residents are focusing on building many smaller dams and wells that can hold the rain water, to use it for farming and livestock during the drought season.

The rains temporarily affected the transportation from Bosaso port to other regions in Puntland. Hundreds of vehicles in Ceeldoofar and Sheerbi villages, some with passengers from Bosaso and Qardho, were ordered to stop their trip over the last week since two small bridges on the road were damaged due to the flooding.

Some sources say the road re-opened yesterday afternoon and the vehicles continued with their trip.

Puntland Caught Between SSC and Somaliland Clashes in Gambara
05/30/2011
Puntland Forces in Las'anod
©Somalia Report
Puntland Forces in Las'anod

Puntland and Somaliland forces have today clashed in Gambara near Tukaraq district in Sool region, some 28 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Las'anod, after Somaliland forces moved towards Puntland's base in Tukaraq.

There are varied reports on killed and wounded soldiers, but both sides and witnesses said there were no civilian casualities. Local residents told Somalia Report that 2 Puntland soldiers and 3 Somaliland soldiers were killed. However, Somaliland official, Yasin Abdi Mire, denied Puntland soldiers were killed, but that 3 Puntland soliders were wounded in the fighting. Sources close to the military of Somaliland said at least of four of Somaliland’s forces were injured.

Witnesses told Somalia Report that Somaliland forces with tanks and armored vehicles were seen moving towards the direction of Gambara earlier in the morning and fierce clashes followed around 12:00 PM local time (0900 GMT)

Sources from Garowe, Puntland’s capital, told Somalia Report that Somaliland forces clashed with the Sool, Sanaag & Cool (SSC) militia, a group is opposed to the government in Hargeisa, in the outskirts of Gambara. The fighting forced the SSC militia to retreat back to the Puntland base in Tukaraq village thus prompting Puntland forces into an unexpected battle with Somaliland.

“Puntland forces were caught in the middle after SSC and Somaliland fought somewhere near Puntland military base,” the source said.

Puntland’s former Aviation and Ports Minister Ahmed Ali Osman Karash, who now leads an armed militia to fight against Somaliland’s presence in the region, exclusively talked to Somalia Report while in Tukaraq.

He said that Somaliland military forces attacked his forces and the SSC militia a few kilometers away from Tukaraq.

“They attacked our forces as well as of those SSC in the outskirts of Tukaruq, and we resisted the offensive of Somaliland," he said.

Meanwhile, Colonel Ali Sabaray, the deputy leader of SSC told the local media that his militia captured a tank from Somaliland forces and a number of other military equipment, but could not confirm the number of casualties.

"We have managed to push the enemy back to their territory. We have captured a number of their military equipment,” said the colonel.

Puntland’s Information Minister Ahmed Ali Askar held press conference in the capital of Garowe and said that three of Puntland’s defense forces were injured in the fighting but no one was killed as far as Puntland’s side is concerned.

“Three of our forces were injured and are now being treated in Garowe. That’s the only casualty so far,” he explained.

He blamed the break-away administration of Somaliland for provoking Puntland by attacking its territory.

Puntland's former Aviation and Ports Minister Ahmed Ali Osman Karash
©Somalia Report
Puntland's former Aviation and Ports Minister Ahmed Ali Osman Karash

"Somaliland attacked our territory and Puntland responded in the similar fashion,” said the information minister. “Puntland as always will defend its territory and people," vowed.

Minister Askar blamed Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for trying to destabilize the region, but would not give details of how and why the TFG is involved in the Puntland-Somaliland conflict.

Somaliland Military Officials told local media that Puntland troops were trying to attack Lascano district and Somaliland military have succeeded to defend it.

Several local residents told Somalia Report that another clash might break out.

The tension is very high in the area, according to Ahmed Said Yare, a resident in Las’anod. “The situation is very high here in Las’anod, people are not sure of what may follow this,” he said.

That clashes come amid peace efforts focusing on Kalshale Village were continuing in Lascano and Buhodle districts in disputed region of Sool Peace elders asked both sides to bury the hachet and to get along.

Earlier this year, Puntland forces established military bases near the Tukaruq village while Somaliland forces moved 20km from Lascano district and the SSC front in a bid to take control of some districts in region.

Puntland and Somaliland both claim the Sool region as part of its territory and have previously fought for control of the region.

Breaking News
Police Successfully Detect Bomb Targeting Puntland Officials
06/02/2011
Roadside Bomb in Bosaso
©Somalia Report
Roadside Bomb in Bosaso

Bosaso police in Puntland have succeeded to detect and disarm a roadside bomb hidden under the main road of the city and designed to kill Puntland officials as they drove over it.

A large number of Puntland security forces sealed off streets near the bomb area and began search operations to apprehend those responsible.

The police officers told Somalia Report that the bomb aimed to assassinate Puntland officials who were visiting different businesses in the center of Bosaso, but the police received a tip about it before the officials began their drive.

Witnesses say the police arrested number of people but it is still not known if the people detained during the operations are connected with the bomb.

Location of Bomb in Bosaso
Location of Bomb in Bosaso

The Mayor of Bosaso, Mohamud Farah Beldaje, and the Governor of Bari Region, A/Hafid Ali Yosuf, visited the site of the bomb while the police were doing operations. Both officers accused "enemies of Puntland and a group of mercenaries," of being behind the plot. The officials also requested people to cooperate with the police and other security forces.

In past few months Bosaso has been rocked by planned assassinations and roadside bomb attacks against the officials of Puntland, prominent Somali elders and peace campaigners.

Nowhere Safe: Refugees Face Violence in Both Somalia and Yemen
06/05/2011
Refugees in Bosaso Returning to Southern Somalia
©Somalia Report
Refugees in Bosaso Returning to Southern Somalia

Hundreds of Somali refugees who fled to Yemen to escape war in Somalia, are now fleeing the unrest and violence in Yemen to return to Somalia. Many of the refugees are passing through the port city of Bosaso in Puntland region on their way back to southern Somalia, which is mainly controlled by al-Shabaab militants.

Over the last few weeks approximately 400 Somalis have reached the port of Bosaso by overcrowded boats, including women and children.

Most of them have decided to return to their homes in Mogadishu, Lower Shabelle and Bay and say they are in a deadlock situation with nowhere safe to go.

Ahmed Ali, a refugee who spoke to Somalia Report, said that he can’t live in Bosaso because he doesn't have any relatives in the area. He had no choice but to rent a vehicle with other refugees to get home to southern Somalia.

He said they haven't received any support from the UN or local government when they fled to camps for Internally Displaced People in Bosaso.

Refugees Returning from Yemen
©Somalia Report
Refugees Returning from Yemen

“Although we were welcomed when we came to Bosaso by the Puntland officials, we can't remain here,” said Ahmed.

Many residents who spoke to Somalia Report on the condition of anonymity said they have faced so many traumatic experiences that they feel helpless: Violence in Somalia, risky water crossings, unrest in Yemen, and another dangerous water crossing only to return to violence ridden Somalia. As if that weren't enough, many have faced rape, beatings by local militias, corrupt officials, starvation, drought and family deaths as a result of war.

Keys Given to Police Station and Ministry of Information Office in Bosaso
06/07/2011
UNHCR Representative (left) and Puntland Information Minister (right)
©Somalia Report
UNHCR Representative (left) and Puntland Information Minister (right)

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative for Somalia Bruno Geddo today officially handed over a police station and an office building to Puntland government officials in Bosaso.

Police Station

In a ceremony at the SPU (Penal Police Unit) Centre in Bosaso, the UNHCR handed a rebuilt police station over to the Security Ministry of Puntland.

"Today we are giving the premises to the minister of security which reaffirms our close cooperation with security officials," said Mr. Geddo.

Puntland's Minister of Security Yusuf Ahmed Kheyr praised the positive relationship between the UNHCR and Puntland's security forces. The Security Minister asked the international donors and other UN agencies to help train more Puntland Security Forces to ensure security in the region.

Previously the UNHCR built a police station at Mareero harbor, the stronghold of human trafficking, which resulted in the substantial decrease of trafficking.

Mr. Geddo told Somalia Report that the UNHCR has created similar projects in Garowe, Galkaio, Qardo and also plans to finish police stations in smuggling villages near Bososo of Marero, Elanyo and Shimbiro.

Ministry of Information Regional Office

The UNHCR also turned keys over to Puntland's Information Minister Ahmed Ali Asker for the ministry's new regional office.

The minister told the reporters that this project will improve the co-operation between the government and the local media, and called the building "The House of The Media in Bari Region."

Refugee and IDP Concerns

Mr. Geddo has expressed grave concerns about the Somali refugees returning from Yemen and said the UNHCR plans to register them and provide them with food and water.

IDPs are also a concern for the UNHCR, particularly in the hot summer months, with an increasing number of emigrants in Elayo 22km of the north of Bosaso.