Archive for December, 2009

n Kismayu town, 500 kilometres south of Mogadishu, the authority of al-Shabaab, the strongest Islamist movement opposing the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), issued orders to be observed by the people.

Sheikh Ibrahim Hassan, the Public Awareness Officer of the Authority, announced through a local Radio, Al-Andalus that male inhabitants in Juba regions including Kismayu must grow beards, shave moustaches and shorten their trousers to above the ankles.

Sheikh Ibrahim stated that all adult men in the area ought to comply with the directives within three days, effective December 19. Any opposition to the orders would bring punishment.

Although al-Shabaab (youth in Arabic) rules many parts of southern and central regions of Somalia, the Juba regions with a long border with Kenya appear to have attracted the full authority of the movement.

On December 10, the administration recently appointed by al-Shabaab at Dhobley border town, next to Liboi in Kenya’s North Eastern Province introduced restrictions on a number of social aspects. All businesses are to close during the prayer times that are observed by Muslim faithful.

Da’ud Hassan Ali, the new administration’s Defence Officer, had announced that anybody found running a business as the muezzin calls for prayers would be penalised.

“When the muezzin calls the worshippers to prayers, not even a single person is allowed to wander in the streets,” said Mr Ali. The next target had been the female lot. Women had been ordered to cover their bodies from head to toe with extra heavy clothing.

“This is the notation of Islam on women,” said Ali. “They should not fail to observe the dress code,” he added.The Al-Shabaab officer indicated that his administration had allocated a place for smokers and Khat (miraa) chewers to buy and consume the commodity. “No one is allowed to sell or consume the stuff in public,” remarked Ali.

In October 2008, the Islamist authority in Kismayu banned khat flights to Kismayu. The mind-stimulating commodity used to come from Kenya and its chewing is very popular, especially among male Somali adults.

The latest orders involving beards, moustaches and trousers as imposed on men generated heated reactions.

Opponents insist that only a nationwide, stable Islamic rule can issue such directives. Their view is that al-Shabaab or any other authority in Somalia is not very permanent. Hence, could not introduce decisions with lasting effects.

“Some of the instructions given by al-Shabaab are so personal that even an Islamic State could not introduce,” commented Mr Aw Ali Husein Garweyne, a moderate Islamist in Mogadishu.

“Our Prophet Mohammed gave us the faculty to use some of his examples like beard and moustache, but never made it mandatory,” he added.

According to Aw Ali, some of the directives being enforced by al-Shabaab cannot be justified by the Islamic books of reference. He cited the Jihad, suicide missions or single dress rule as example.

Even President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of the TFG recently labelled un-Islamic the strict dress code enforced by al-Shabaab. He noted that Islam only tells women to cover themselves properly, locally known as asturaad, without dictating specific type of clothes and design.

Addressing the city council in Mogadishu, President Ahmed joked that the Islamist militants even want to know the underwear of women to note whether they match their standard. “It is neither religious nor cultural to ask about underwear,” said the president.

Meanwhile, tittle-tattle has recently been circulating that a woman was killed at Yakhshid district in North Mogadishu by al-Shabaab. The owner of a teashop at a mechanical garage, her crime was to have had a radio and listening to Radio Mogadishu, a government controlled broadcaster.

“Only in service since October this year, Radio Mogadishu is indeed fast becoming popular.

On Sunday December 27, Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Raghe alias Sheikh Ali Dhere, the Spokesman of Al-Shabaab held a press conference in Mogadishu.

He stated that listening to Radio Mogadishu amounted to a crime and anybody found tuning to the station would be treated like being a government partisan.

“Radio Mogadishu has an un-Islamic agenda,” said Sheikh Raghe. “Listening to it is like directly helping the enemy of Islam,” he said. Al-Shabaab’s statement looks to have had an immediate negative impact because more people are now curious to listen to the radio.

To make matters worse, the government decided to expand Radio Mogadishu’s coverage area by broadcasting through a satellite, reaching listeners in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Continuing his argument, Aw Ali says that neither growing beard nor trimming the moustaches is mandatory. “They are the best way to appear, but not necessarily compulsory,” remarked Aw Ali. “I believe these people are working for gaalo (non-Muslims) to spoil our religion,” said the manager of a teashop in South Mogadishu. According to other sceptics, al-Shabaab is imposing orders and restrictions in order to show their power to command.

allAfrica.com: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Orders on Radio and Beard Cause Confusion.

Orientale Province

Since late 2008, the civilian population of Haut and Bas-Uélé has been caught up in a dramatic cycle of violence linked to attacks perpetrated by the Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and the Ugandan and Congolese offensive against the LRA. As the situation deteriorates, civilians also find themselves facing increasing banditry.

One year after violence erupted in Haut-Uélé district, in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), attacks and clashes have now expanded to new areas, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee. MSF is working in five locations of Haut-Uélé and Bas-Uélé to bring free health care, emergency aid, and psychological support to the displaced and resident populations.

Haut-Uélé

From June to September, MSF conducted 2,800 outpatient consultations in the two health centres it supports in Namboli and Lipay, in the Dungu area. Most patients were treated for malaria, diarrhoea, and respiratory infections.

In Dungu hospital, MSF medical teams performed 452 surgeries, cared for 100 severely malnourished children, and for another 220 children with a variety of other health problems.

Since August, MSF has also worked in reproductive health and supports the hospital’s maternity department, where sexually transmitted infections are common.

Teams provided psychological support for 88 patients who had suffered as a result of the violence.

Doruma, a town on the border with Sudan, is at the heart of a very insecure area. The population of Doruma and the 12,000 people who have fled there are at risk of hunger – it is too dangerous for them to go to their fields and tend their crops.

MSF supports three health centres where 2,500 outpatient consultations have been carried out this year. MSF also supports the hospital in Doruma, where 94 patients were hospitalised in September. In October, MSF began providing mental health support and treatment for sleeping sickness, in addition to supporting the surgical and maternity wards.

Niangara is the main town at the crossroads leading to the Central African Republic and Southern Sudan. Around 11,000 displaced people have arrived in the town, fleeing violence. MSF is supporting the main referral hospital in Niangara and the nearby Wawé health centre.

Since the start of MSF activities there seven months ago, medical teams have carried out up to 1,000consultations per week at the general hospital and the Wawé health centre.

Each month, around 100 new patients are admitted to Niangara hospital. MSF is mainly treating malaria, respiratory infections, sexually transmitted infections and stress-related diseases.

MSF teams put a psychosocial programme in place to help the local population cope with the trauma and stress of continuous violence and displacement. Between June and early November, 80 patients received treatment.

Following attacks in December 2008, MSF started to provide medical and psychological care in Faradje. Teams cared for more than 100 children, both boys and girls, who had been abducted by armed men and then escaped or were released. They were given a place to sleep, a space to play, and individual support from an MSF psychologist. This programme has been handed over to another organisation.

MSF continues to support Faradje hospital, where some 11,000 patients have received consultations and 900 were treated in the maternity, paediatric, surgical or internal medicine departments. The main diseases treated here are malaria, intestinal parasites and skin infections.

MSF Activities | Condition: Critical.

Civilians attacked, bombed, and cut off from aid in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), along with stagnant funding for treating HIV/AIDS and ongoing neglect of other diseases, were among the worst emergencies in 2009.

Continuing crises in north and south Sudan, along with the failure of the international community to finally combat childhood malnutrition were also included on this year’s list. The list is drawn from MSF’s operational activities in close to 70 countries, where the organization’s medical teams witnessed some of the worst humanitarian conditions.

via MSF’s Top Ten Humanitarian Crises of 2009.

Daily Monitor: Truth Everyday; Uganda News, Business, Travel, Sports, Elections  – ROAD TO 2011: Big battle for Gulu on the cards.

Kampala — ANOTHER LRA rebel commander has surrendered in eastern Congo, the Ugandan army has said.

‘Captain’ Ocen turned himself in to the Congolese army in Paika two days before Christmas, according to Capt. Peter Mugisa, the UPDF spokesman for West Nile region.

Ocen was one of the LRA officers under the command of Okello Kalalang who committed horrendous atrocities in northern Uganda and eastern Congo.

“Kalalang was one of Kony’s most notorious commanders who burnt down houses after killing and abducting hundreds of Congolese,” said Mugisa.

The LRA carried out reprisal attacks after the armies of Congo, Southern Sudan and Uganda launched a joint military offensive on the rebel bases in Garamba National Park.

The offensive, dubbed ‘Operation Lightning Thunder’, was launched after LRA leader Joseph Kony refused to sign the final peace agreement after two years of protracted talks in Juba, Sudan.

Mugisa said Ocen surrendered with a gun and 30 rounds of ammunition, as well as four fighters under his command. They were transferred to the battalion headquarters in Duru.

This brings to 56 the number of fighters who have defected since the joint operation started a year ago.

According to figures released by the UPDF on Monday, another 305 rebels were killed, 41 captured and 513 abductees rescued since December 2008.

Mugisa noted that the continued surrender of LRA fighters signals the end of the insurgency.

“This trend implies that the UPDF have dealt the LRA bandits a decisive blow through comprehensive combat engagement,” he said.

“The remaining LRA fugitives no longer deserve to be called rebels. They are bandits because they are scattered in four countries with no clear central command structure.”

Ocen is expected to be flown to Entebbe or Gulu army headquarters.

Samuel Obali, who surrendered in November, said they were also forced to surrender because of the constant pursuit by the UPDF forces in the CAR, DR-Congo and Southern Sudan.

“We had no food, water, medicine and lacked communication with the central command. We had to organise ourselves and surrender to the Congolese Armed Forces in order to survive.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Monday released a damning report, saying at least 1,200 people were killed, 1,400 abducted, and 230,000 displaced in eastern Congo during 10 months of LRA rampage.

“These attacks and systematic and widespread human rights violations carried out by the LRA may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity,” the report said.

A second report, issued the same day, described a similar pattern of LRA attacks in neighbouring Southern Sudan.

It documented 30 LRA attacks between December 2008 and March 2009 in Western and Central Equatoria states in which at least 81 civilians were killed, 74 abducted and 11 villages pillaged.

As reported: allAfrica.com: Uganda: Notorious LRA Rebel Surrenders.

allAfrica.com: Uganda: Army Lists Gains Against LRA in 2009.

Over 513 abductees were rescued in the operation that was jointly conducted with the armies of Southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The army pointed out that several commanders were either killed or captured, while others defected to UPDF reception points in the war zone. Those killed include ‘Lt Col’ Okello Yapee and ‘Lt Col’ Okuti, while ‘Col’ Thomas Kwoyelo was captured, the statement said.

Among those who defected were ‘Lt Col’ Charles Arop, ‘Maj’ Joseph Okot Atiak, ‘Capt’ Obali, ‘Lieutenants’ Michael Ojok and Francis Opira, and Second Lieutenants Geoffrey Okwera, Onen Quinto and Christopher Ochora.

Under Operation Lightning Thunder, the UPDF and its allies attacked the LRA hideouts with helicopter gun-ships and Mig23 jet-fighters.

In fact LRA is re-grouping and gaining intensive training in Sudan. They are training in Dimo in southern Darfur. This fact is known to the intelligence community,” Maj. Gen. Kuol stated in the Sudan Tribune on December 23.

Last month, former LRA director of operations Charles Arop told The New Vision that LRA leader Joseph Kony had ordered his troops to move to Darfur and report to the first Sudanese army detachment to get protection and logistical support.

The Sudan Government through its Kampala embassy, however, denied it continues to assist the LRA.

–  Its good to see action has been taken. it is a hard one with respect to military action as child soldiers are the main fighters for the LRA, however i do understand there comes a point when its a war situation and hard decisions must be made. God bless the survivors and victims, the innocent children especially.  I hope that through Invisible children the USA will support the Disarmament of the LRA bill of 2009 check it out here *Rebecca-Anne

BBC News – Child born into a life of conflict in Gaza.

So sad that children in so many places have to live in such conditions. Whether it be in the wars of africa, middle east or asia, children everday are dying all over the world for senseless reasons…

BBC News – Uganda fear over gay death-penalty plans. read the full report.

Its sad to see that we still…coming into 2010 have these discriminations

Enough, the anti-genocide project at the Center for  American Progress, released the following statement today regarding incursions by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group against civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Recent interviews conducted by Enough Project researchers traveling in Haut Uele and Bas Uele in Province Orientale, in northern Congo, suggest that the Lord’s Resistance Army–a transnational terrorist group with a 20-year record of atrocities–is threatening to repeat the massacres it committed during Christmas 2008, in which over 800 Congolese civilians were brutally murdered. Meanwhile, Congolese army units deployed to protect local populations from the LRA continue to commit grave abuses against Congolese civilians. // The LRA have killed nearly 1,500 Congolese civilians and abducted 3,000 more (including at least 700 children) since the Ugandan army launched an offensive against the LRA in December 2008. The presence of 6,000 Congolese soldiers in Province Orientale–many of them integrated brigades of former rebels and local militia from the troubled Kivu provinces in eastern Congo–has actually made matters worse. The U.N. Mission in the Congo, or MONUC, has deployed to the affected region, but peacekeepers conduct only limited patrols in some LRA-affected area that provide little deterrent against LRA attacks and Congolese army abuses. A battalion of Tunisian reinforcements that was supposed to deploy in June 2009 has yet to arrive.

Read the full report Below

allAfrica.com: Congo-Kinshasa: Lord’s Resistance Army’s Sends Chilling Threat to Congolese Civilians – We Will Celebrate Christmas With You Page 1 of 1.

We hear everyday about children who are victims of violence and it is sad to know that today is the same. I was directed to a news report by a friend who works in the area in the report and what i read was saddening and disturbing.  Here is part of the news report:

Nyamyezi and Kaitabigere villages in Nyankwanzi sub-county, Kyenjojo district, after a young man hacked to death five people, including his father and stepmother, on Tuesday evening.  In a gruesome attack, 5 people aged: 75, 35, 35, 16 & 14.

After the murder of the mother and the two oldest sons, the family is now headed by 12-year-old Alex Akampulira. He has to look after his three siblings of nine, six and three years.

The youngest children are in the picture below:

9, 6 and 3 yrs of age, left to be looked after by a 12 yr old.

These children require help to support them through a local non profit in Uganda. you can contact the non profit by emailing me freeuganda@care2.com and i will give further information as i receive it.

This is such a sad story of yet more children being the innocent victims of violence. I hope that you, the world, can open your hearts and help. Full Report Here

Pictures remain the property of NewVision or their respective owners.