UN: Kenya’s Incursion into Somalia Is Messing With Our Relief Efforts
There are lots of reasons to be skeptical of the wisdom and utility of Kenya’s military campaign in Somalia. Here’s another: “The United Nations says recent military activity along the Kenya-Somalia border is restricting famine relief efforts and preventing Somalis from fleeing to refugee camps in Kenya. The U.N. Refugee Agency said Wednesday that only 100 Somali refugees entered Kenya last week, down from 3,400 in the previous week. Last week, Kenya sent troops across the border to hunt down Somali militants, who Kenya blames for a series of cross-border kidnappings. The U.N. says the military build-up is causing anxiety among the civilian population, and is likely to restrict the movement of humanitarian personnel and supplies. The organization says approximately 3.7 million Somalis are still in need of emergency food aid as a result of the region’s worst famine in decades. The report also notes that the unrest may have forced many Somali refugees to instead flee to Ethiopia, where the number of Somali arrivals in refugee camps significantly increased in the first part of October.” (VOA http://bit.ly/uNYsGv)
American and Danish Aid Workers Kidnapped in Somalia
It’s never easy going for aid workers in Somalia, but the past few weeks have been particularly rough. Two weeks ago, of course, two Spanish doctors from MSF were nabbed from Dadaab and spirited to Somalia. Today, there is word that an American, a Dane and a Somali were betrayed by their Security guard in Puntland and turned over to pirates. “A self-proclaimed Somali pirate said that pirates had captured the three. The captors would not harm the three but will want a ransom for their release, he said. The claim could not be independently verified. The three employees work for the Danish Demining Group, whose experts have been clearing mines and unexploded ordnance in conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East. ‘As a first priority, we have been concentrating on the ongoing investigations. We are keeping close contact with the family members, who are deeply concerned, just as we are,’ said Ann Mary Olsen, head of the Danish Refugee Council’s international department. Activities of the Danish Refugee Council, which runs the Danish Demining Group, have been suspended in the area. The group provided no other details and asked media outlets “to respect the need for confidentiality as investigations are ongoing.”(CBS http://bit.ly/tTwy5O)
Is Yemen’s President Saleh Prepping For a Somewhat Graceful Exit?
Last Friday, the Security Council made President Saleh an offer he couldn’t refuse: exit now and enjoy immunity from prosecution…or else. It would appear that Saleh has read the writing on the wall. “Yemen’s president on Tuesday called in the U.S. ambassador and told him he would sign a deal to step down, a U.S. official said. The embattled leader, who has made that pledge several times before, spoke as violence shook his capital. President Ali Abdullah Saleh informed Ambassador Gerald Feierstein of a new cease-fire, but clashes on the streets threw that into doubt. Activists said seven protesters were killed and 10 wounded…[the state department] spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Saleh confirmed he would sign the Gulf Cooperation Council plan for him to step down — a claim he has made several times this year but then backed down at the last minute, infuriating both opponents and former allies. She also said that Saleh confirmed that a cease-fire had been arranged with the opposition demonstrators, as announced on Yemen’s state news agency’s website.” (Yahoo http://yhoo.it/uBB2Vf)
Bangkok Floods Inundate a New Part of the City
The situation is as a bad as it ever was in Bangkok: “Floodwater swamped a new area of Thailand’s capital on Wednesday as some shops started rationing food and the prime minister warned that parts of Bangkok could be flooded for up to a month.R esidents of Bang Phlad, a riverside district some way from Bangkok’s three swamped northern districts, were told to urgently evacuate as floods hit the capital on a second front, deepening anxiety in the city of at least 12 million people, many of whom were expected to flee ahead of a special five-day holiday. ‘After assessing the situation, we expect floodwater to remain in Bangkok for around two weeks to one month before going into the sea,’ Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told reporters. ‘However … we shouldn’t face water as high as two or three meters staying for two or three months as we’ve seen in other provinces.’ (Reuters http://reut.rs/rOQu6B)
Gazing into the Crystal Ball: Communal Violence in Kenya
There will be more bombings in Somalia, and further attacks in Nairobi seem likely. One thing that may be overlooked because of these stories is the growing tensions between Kenyans and Somali migrants in Kenya. Communal violence is, unfortunately, not so rare in Kenya (think ‘community justice’ against Mungiki in 2009). Watch out for violence or clashes that target Somali migrants in the near future.