Annual Report: Somalia 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Somalia 2011

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  • In January, WFP suspended its work in southern Somalia due to insecurity and growing threats by armed groups. On 28 February, al-Shabab announced that it was banning WFP from areas under its control, claiming that food distribution undermined local farmers and that WFP had a political agenda. The ban, which remained in place at the end of the year, threatened up to one million people in need of food aid in southern Somalia, despite good rains and harvests in some regions.
  • On 15 January, Nur Hassan Bare "Boolis", a security staff member of SAACID, an aid organization running a feeding programme in Mogadishu, and four other men were abducted by al-Shabab. He was found dead the next day with his hands bound. The other men were released days later, including another SAACID employee who was reportedly tortured.
  • On 29 June 2010, a shell hit Keysaney hospital in northern Mogadishu, killing a patient; two more shells hit the same hospital in the following days, despite the ICRC urging parties to the conflict to spare medical facilities.
  • In August, al-Shabab banned three humanitarian organizations from areas under its control, claiming that they were spreading Christianity. In September, it banned three more aid organizations, accusing them of links with the USA.

Freedom of expression - journalists and civil society

Intimidation of Somali journalists and civil society organizations by armed groups continued. The threat of killings and abductions forced more Somali activists to flee the country. Armed groups also closed or took over radio stations and banned certain topics from being reported. At least three journalists were killed during the year. Foreign observers only visited AMISOM bases in Mogadishu in southern Somalia. In Puntland, the government restricted media reports on its conflict with a local militia.

  • On 21 February, Ali Yusuf Adan, a correspondent for the media outlet Somaliweyn, was captured by al-Shabab in the city of Wanleweyn, apparently after a report alleging the group had killed a man in the area. He was freed unharmed on 2 March.
  • On 4 May, journalist Nur Mohamed Abkey of Radio Mogadishu, a TFG-owned station, was abducted by gunmen in southern Mogadishu and shot in the head. His body was dumped in an alleyway and reportedly bore traces of torture. His Radio Mogadishu colleagues received a phone call from alleged al-Shabab members claiming responsibility for the killing.
  • On 3 April, the armed group Hizbul Islam ordered radio stations to stop broadcasting music within 10 days, claiming it was un-Islamic. On 9 April, al-Shabab banned the BBC and Voice of America from broadcasting in areas under its control. They also seized the BBC's satellite dishes and FM transmitters.
  • On 13 August, Abdifatah Jama, deputy director of the radio station Horseed FM, was sentenced to six years' imprisonment on charges related to an interview with Sheikh Mohamed Said Atom, leader of an armed group in Puntland. He was tried and convicted the day after his arrest, reportedly under Puntland's new anti-terror legislation. Puntland's Information Minister then threatened journalists with punishment should they interview Sheikh Mohamed Said Atom's forces. Abdifatah Jama appealed against his conviction and was pardoned by the Puntland President and released in November.

Child soldiers

Armed Islamist groups, in particular al-Shabab, increased their forced recruitment of boys as young as nine years old, alongside young men, into their forces. Girls were sometimes reportedly recruited to cook and clean for al-Shabab forces or forced to marry al-Shabab members.

In June, the TFG President ordered the Army Chief to investigate media reports that child soldiers were used in TFG forces. The findings of the investigation were not made available by the end of the year. In November, the new TFG Prime Minister pledged to the UN Special Representative on children and armed conflict to work towards an action plan to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers.