Somalia: Too Hot To Help

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June 7, 2012:  Drought, al Shabaab violence, corruption, banditry, and general chaos have caused 800-900 people a day to flee Somalia for the last year. Most flee to neighboring countries, while a minority had the cash to try and get to the West. Nearly a million Somalis are living in refugee camps outside Somalia.

Getting aid to those still in Somalia is difficult because of the rampant corruption, banditry, and resulting lack of foreign donors unwilling to give cash or food. Until someone comes up with an effective way to distribute aid in Somalia, donors are staying away. Too many past efforts have seen most of the aid stolen and aid workers attacked (and often robbed or held for ransom). The UN believes that without a lot of foreign aid, there will never be peace in Somalia. Many donor nations believe that the Somalis have to fix their own internal problems (corruption, religious fanatics, warlords, and lawlessness in general) before major aid shipments will return. Somalia has been a violent and chaotic place for centuries.

Although pirate attacks are down, the pirate gangs are still bringing in, on average, $10 million a month in ransoms. Last year there were 31 ransom deliveries, averaging $5 million each. This keeps the gangs going and innovating to get around the new countermeasures of the anti-piracy patrol.  

The U.S. is offering $33 million in rewards for help in capturing or killing the top seven leaders of al Shabaab. This includes $7 million for the founder and $3-5 million for the other six.  

June 6, 2012: In Puntland a helicopter attacked a pirate gang leader at Bali Dhidid, apparently wounding the target and destroying three vehicles as the pirate leader made his escape.

June 4, 2012: In Puntland troops from the PMPF (Puntland Maritime Police Force) attacked a pirate base at Bargal. The PMPF is a force recruited and trained last year with cash and other help from the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and other foreign nations. Until recently it was mainly used to protect aid projects but starting earlier this year has been going after pirates. The PMPF now has several hundred trained members.

June 2, 2012:  Kenyan troops completed their transition to the AU peacekeeping force. Kenya has had its troops in Somalia since last November. Kenyan troops are now moving to the outskirts of Kismayo, the port city that is the last major base of al Shabaab. Somali government troops, who are trained in Uganda, have been taught how to fight in urban areas, apparently in preparation for an attack on Kismayo.

June 1, 2012: There was a clash with an al Shabaab group 25 kilometers northwest of Mogadishu. Eventually the al Shabaab men fled the AU peacekeepers and government troops.

 

 

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