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17 Dec 2009 description

Nairobi/Mogadishu_(dpa) _ Somali insurgent group al-Shabaab on Thursday said it was banning the United Nations Mine Action agency from operating in Somalia.

Al-Shabaab, which is battling to topple the weak Western-backed government, said in a statement that Mine Action was paying the salaries of government forces and "surveying and signposting some of the most vital and sensitive areas" under insurgent control.

Somalia is awash with mines from earlier conflicts with Ethiopia.

The insurgent group, which controls much of south and central Somalia, has already served notice …

06 Dec 2009 description

Nairobi_(dpa) _ Somalia's minister for Youth and Sports has died of injuries sustained in Thursday's suicide bombing in the Somali capital Mogadishu, a government official said Sunday, raising the death toll to 24.

A Somali government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the German Press Agency dpa that Saleeban Olaad Roble died on Saturday in the private Aga Khan Hospital in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

The ministers for health, education and higher education also died when a male bomber dressed as a woman detonated an explosive device at a graduation …

17 Nov 2009 description

Brussels_(dpa) _ The European Union hopes to launch a training mission aimed at helping Somalia's armed forces fight insurgents by the end of this year, the bloc's top diplomats said Tuesday.

The Somali government has asked for international help to train around 6,000 troops.

02 Nov 2009 description

Athens_(dpa) _ The Greek government shut down a detention centre on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos on Monday, after months of criticism from the United Nations refugee agency about conditions facing migrants housed there.

"We have shut down the centre of Pagani," Deputy Civil Protection Minister Spyros Vougias told an immigration conference in Athens.

Vougias, who paid a visit to the centre soon after the Socialist party was elected to power on October 4, had described it as "Dante's Inferno."

"The conditions there are unbearable, inhuman and go …

23 Oct 2009 description

Nairobi/Addis Ababa_(dpa) _ Exactly 25 years ago, BBC correspondent Michael Buerk unveiled the full extent of Ethiopia's now infamous drought, calling it a "Biblical famine" in the 20th century.

A cavalcade of horrors paraded before the cameras in Korem, northern Ethiopia: skeletal children clinging to their equally wasted mothers; corpses of infants wrapped in sackcloth lined up in the dust; hundreds of desperate people tottering across the plain on stick-thin legs, prompted into a shaky sprint by the rumour of a food delivery.

The harrowing pictures prompted an …

21 Oct 2009 description

Michael Logan, dpa

Nairobi_(dpa) _ The rain comes down in sheets in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, sending pedestrians splashing for cover through muddy streams that send the detritus of city life swirling around their ankles.

Many a pair of shiny shoes are caked in mud and those without umbrellas are soaked to skin, but nobody complains. The rains have been a long time coming in Kenya.

The East African nation - and the wider region - has been suffering from several years of failed rains, shrivelling the earth, decimating cattle herds and bringing millions to the brink …

21 Oct 2009 description

Henry Wasswa, dpa

Kampala_(dpa) _ Most African meetings are dominated by issues related to calamities - wars, famines and natural disasters that plague the crisis-prone continent.

Now Africa's technocrats and politicians are at it again, converging in the Ugandan capital Kampala to tackle one of the continent's most pressing problems: refugees and internally displaced people.

The Special African Union summit on refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) began Monday and the delegates are mulling how to handle the estimated 17 million people who have fled their homes …

12 Sep 2009 description

Mogadishu_(dpa) _ As many as 12 disabled war veterans died and a dozen more were wounded on Friday evening after mortars hit a hospital housing former army officers in the Somali capital Mogadishu, officials said Saturday.

Islamist insurgent group al-Shabaab and its ally Hizbul Islam have been battling to remove President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who came to power earlier this year as part of a UN-backed peace process.

"Up to 12 disabled former national army officers died in last night's shelling in residential areas," government spokesman Sheikh Abdirisak Qelow …

10 Sep 2009 description

New York_(dpa) _ The United Nations on Thursday called for a continued fight against piracy, which has increased in frequency despite deterrent actions by the navies of major nations and NATO.

Proposals to fight piracy include the establishment of a tribunal to prosecute pirates and the sharing of information among concerned parties as pirates have gained more sophisticated means and targeted big ships and tankers on the high seas.

Japan, which holds the chairmanship of a 28-nation contact group on piracy, held a session at UN headquarters on Thursday to discuss its work.

28 Aug 2009 description

Michael Logan, dpa

Nairobi_(dpa) _ African leaders are due to meet in Libya early next week to consider a proposal demanding an annual 67 billion dollars from developed nations to mitigate the effects of climate change on the continent.

The draft proposal - which also calls for major polluters to cut emissions by 40 per cent from 1990 levels before 2020 - will raise a few eyebrows if it is tabled at December's United Nations climate change talks in Copenhagen.

But Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, believes Africa is justified in demanding such …

16 Aug 2009 description

Valletta_(dpa) _ Some 115 African refugees were rescued from a sinking boat off the coast of Malta and brought to the capital Valletta, Maltese officials reported Sunday.

The 81 men and 34 women were said to be from Somalia and had set sail from Libya. dpa hg ka mga

04 Jun 2009 description

Nairobi/Mogadishu_(dpa) _ The number of people who have fled fierce fighting in the Somali capital Mogadishu over the last four weeks has risen to almost 100,000, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said Thursday.

More than 200 people have died and many more have been injured during weeks of heavy clashes between Islamist insurgents and government forces in residential neighbourhoods.

More residents took advantage of a lull in the fighting Thursday to flee, adding to the 91,000 people that UNHCR said had already abandoned the city.

There are fears the conflict will only worsen …

27 May 2009 description

Nairobi/Mogadishu_(dpa) _ At least nine people have died in the Somali capital Mogadishu after insurgents targeting the presidential palace hit nearby homes with mortars, witnesses said Wednesday.

"At least six mortars hit the area," a witness told Radio Garowe.

The mortar attack on Tuesday night killed at least nine people, including a group having dinner, witnesses and officials said.

Government forces responded with artillery fire, injuring at least seven people.

Fierce fighting has engulfed Mogadishu since early May as Islamist insurgent groups al-Shabaab and …

13 May 2009 description

Mogadishu_(dpa) _ Fresh clashes between government forces and Islamist insurgents broke out in the Somali capital Mogadishu Wednesday as the worst fighting in months showed no sign of ending.

Witnesses said that shelling and gunfire could be heard in the north of the city as insurgent group al-Shabaab exchanged fire with pro-government forces.

There was no indication of new casualties in the latest round of a battle that has gone on for almost a week, killing over 120 people, injuring hundreds and sending tens of thousands fleeing.

Insurgent groups al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam …

07 May 2009 description

Nairobi_(dpa) _ Somali insurgents have been funneling heavy weaponry into the capital Mogadishu in preparation for a major assault on African Union peacekeepers, reports said Thursday.

Radio Garowe, citing residents and military sources, said that missiles, heavy weaponry and other munitions have been seen arriving in the city over the last few days.

It was not clear whether the weapons were intended for the al-Shabaab or Hizbul Islam insurgent groups, although a source close to Hizbul Islam told Garowe the group was preparing for "all-out war" against the AU peacekeepers …

04 May 2009 description

Nairobi_(dpa) _ A prominent Somali opposition leader has refused to meet the president and called on Islamist insurgents to keep fighting the government and African Union peacekeepers.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who returned to Somalia recently after two years in exile, said he could not support President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Mohamed because he is backed by the international community.

Sheikh Sharif, however, has said he is prepared to meet his old ally, who is seen as potentially crucial in bringing stability to Somalia.

Elders from the Hawiye clan, with whom Sheikh Aweys met on …

24 Mar 2009 description

Sana'a, Yemen_(dpa) _ At least nine African migrants drowned after they were forced at gunpoint by the traffickers transporting them to to jump from a boat off Yemen's southern coast on Tuesday, rescuers said.

The traffickers forced more than 90 passengers, mainly Ethiopians, to jump overboard as the boat neared the end of its trip off the southern Yemeni town of Ahwar on the Gulf of Aden, rescuers told German Press Agency dpa.

The rescuers said 83 people, including women, managed to survive after swimming to shore, and that the bodies of nine men had washed up on the coast …

13 Jan 2009 description

Michael Logan, dpa

Nairobi/Mogadishu_(dpa) _ As the Ethiopian troops that have supported Somalia's transitional federal government for the last two years left their main bases in the capital Mogadishu Tuesday, many residents celebrated the departure of what they see as an oppressive occupying force.

But the celebrations may be short-lived.

Analysts' warnings that the departure of Ethiopia's 3,000 troops could lead to more anarchy in the Horn of Africa nation as Islamist insurgents and other militia struggle to seize power appear to be coming true.

Ethiopian forces …

03 Jan 2009 description

Kampala_(dpa) _ Uganda warned Saturday that it may withdraw its troops from peacekeeping duties in Somalia as Ethiopia pulls its forces out after a two-year occupation of the conflict-stricken nation.

"Uganda is going to consider withdrawing its troops from Somalia and it will do so as soon as possible after weighing the risks on the ground," Deputy Foreign Minister Henry Okello Oryem told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia in late 2006 to help kick out the hardline Islamic Courts Union (ICU) regime.

After two years of battling a …

29 Dec 2008 description

Mogadishu_(dpa) _ Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed resigned Monday after failing to bring peace to the Horn of Africa nation, which has been wracked by conflict for the past 17 years.

"Today I resign the post that you elected me to on October 14, 2004," Yusuf told lawmakers in Baidoa, the seat of the Somali parliament. "I stated at that time that there were three options ...