MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somalia’s prime minister announced Saturday that 110 people have died from hunger in the past 48 hours in a single region as a severe drought threatens millions of people across the country.
It was the first death toll announced by Somalia’s government since it declared the drought a national disaster on Tuesday. The United Nations estimates that 5 million people in this Horn of Africa nation need aid, amid warnings of a full-blown famine.
Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire spoke during a meeting with the Somali National Drought Committee. The death toll he announced is from the Bay region in the southwest part of the country alone.
Somalia was one of four regions singled out by the U.N. secretary-general last month in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine, along with northeast Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. All are connected by a thread of violent conflict, the U.N. chief said.
The U.N. humanitarian coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, was expected to visit Somalia in the next few days.
Thousands have been streaming into Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in search of food aid, overwhelming local and international aid agencies. Over 7,000 internally displaced people checked into one feeding center recently.
The drought is the first crisis for Somalia’s newly elected Somali-American leader, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Previous droughts and a quarter-century of conflict, including ongoing attacks by extremist group al-Shabab, have left the country fragile. Mohamed has appealed to the international community and Somalia’s diaspora of 2 million people for help.
About 363,000 acutely malnourished children in Somalia “need urgent treatment and nutrition support, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished,” the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network has warned.
Because of a lack of clean water in many areas, there is the additional threat of cholera and other diseases, U.N. experts say. Some deaths from cholera already have been reported.
The government has said the widespread hunger “makes people vulnerable to exploitation, human rights abuses and to criminal and terrorist networks.”
The U.N. humanitarian appeal for 2017 for Somalia is $864 million to provide assistance to 3.9 million people. But the U.N. World Food Program recently requested an additional $26 million plan to respond to the drought.
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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia over the past year, using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies in an escalating campaign against Islamist militants in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation.
Hundreds of American troops now rotate through makeshift bases in Somalia, the largest military presence since the United States pulled out of the country after the “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993.
The Somalia campaign, as it is described by American and African officials and international monitors of the Somali conflict, is partly designed to avoid repeating that debacle, which led to the deaths of 18 American soldiers. But it carries enormous risks — including more American casualties, botched airstrikes that kill civilians and the potential for the United States to be drawn even more deeply into a troubled country that so far has stymied all efforts to fix it.
The Somalia campaign is a blueprint for warfare that President Obama has embraced and will pass along to his successor. It is a model the United States now employs across the Middle East and North Africa — from Syria to Libya — despite the president’s stated aversion to American “boots on the ground” in the world’s war zones. This year alone, the United States has carried out airstrikes in seven countries and conducted Special Operations missions in many more.
American officials said the White House had quietly broadened the president’s authority for the use of force in Somalia by allowing airstrikes to protect American and African troops as they combat fighters from the Shabab, a Somali-based militant group that has proclaimed allegiance to Al Qaeda.
In its public announcements, the Pentagon sometimes characterizes the operations as “self-defense strikes,” though some analysts have said this rationale has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is only because American forces are now being deployed on the front lines in Somalia that they face imminent threats from the Shabab.
America’s role in Somalia has expanded as the Shabab have become bolder and more cunning. The group has attacked police headquarters, bombed seaside restaurants, killed Somali generals and stormed heavily fortified bases used by African Union troops. In January, Shabab fighters killed more than 100 Kenyan troops and drove off with their trucks and weapons.
About 200 to 300 American Special Operations troops work with soldiers from Somalia and other African nations like Kenya and Uganda to carry out more than a half-dozen raids per month, according to senior American military officials. The operations are a combination of ground raids and drone strikes.
The Navy’s classified SEAL Team 6 has been heavily involved in many of these operations.
Once ground operations are complete, American troops working with Somali forces often interrogate prisoners at temporary screening facilities, including one in Puntland, a state in northern Somalia, before the detainees are transferred to more permanent Somali-run prisons, American military officials said.
The Pentagon has acknowledged only a small fraction of these operations. But even the information released publicly shows a marked increase this year. The Pentagon has announced 13 ground raids and airstrikes thus far in 2016 — including three operations in September — up from five in 2015, according to data compiled by New America, a Washington think tank. The strikes have killed about 25 civilians and 200 people suspected of being militants, the group found.
The strikes have had a mixed record. In March, an American airstrike killed more than 150 Shabab fighters at what military officials called a “graduation ceremony,” one of the single deadliest American airstrikes in any country in recent years. But an airstrike last month killed more than a dozen Somali government soldiers, who were American allies against the Shabab.
Outraged Somali officials said the Americans had been duped by clan rivals and fed bad intelligence, laying bare the complexities of waging a shadow war in Somalia. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said the Pentagon was investigating the strike.
Some experts point out that with the administration’s expanded self-defense justification for airstrikes, a greater American presence in Somalia would inevitably lead to an escalation of the air campaign.
“It is clear that U.S. on-the-ground support to Somali security forces and African Union peacekeepers has been stepped up this year,” said Ken Menkhaus, a Somalia expert at Davidson College. “That increases the likelihood that U.S. advisers will periodically be in positions where Al Shabab is about to launch an attack.”
Peter Cook, the Department of Defense spokesman, wrote in an email, “The DoD has a strong partnership with the Somali National Army and AMISOM forces from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi operating in Somalia. They have made steady progress pressuring Al Shabab.”
The escalation of the war can be seen in the bureaucratic language of the semiannual notifications that Mr. Obama sends to Congress about American conflicts overseas.
The Somalia passage in the June 2015 notification is terse, saying American troops “have worked to counter the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa’ida and associated elements of al-Shabaab.”
In June, however, the president told Congress that the United States had become engaged in a more expansive mission.
Besides hunting members of Al Qaeda and the Shabab, the notification said, American troops are in Somalia “to provide advice and assistance to regional counterterrorism forces, including the Somali National Army and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces.”
American airstrikes, it said, were carried out in defense of the African troops and in one instance because Shabab fighters “posed an imminent threat to U.S. and AMISOM forces.”
At an old Russian fighter jet base in Baledogle, about 70 miles from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, American Marines and private contractors are working to build up a Somali military unit designed to combat the Shabab throughout the country.
Soldiers for the military unit, called Danab, which means lightning in Somali, are recruited by employees of Bancroft Global Development, a Washington-based company that for years has worked with the State Department to train African Union troops and embed with them on military operations inside Somalia.
Michael Stock, the company’s founder, said the Danab recruits received initial training at a facility in Mogadishu before they were sent to Baledogle, where they go through months of training by the Marines. Bancroft advisers then accompany the Somali fighters on missions.
Mr. Stock said the goal was to create a small Somali military unit capable of battling the Shabab without repeating the mistakes in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the United States spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to build up large armies.
Still, American commanders and their international partners are considering a significant expansion of the training effort to potentially include thousands of Somali troops who would protect the country when African Union forces eventually left the country.
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I was born in the mid 1950’s in the state of Virginia, spent most of my ‘growing up years’ in northern Illinois. I got my morals from my Mom, got my whippings from my Dad and learned of the world we all live in from Walter Cronkite. I saw President Kennedy murdered on T.V. and first found out whom Dr. Martin Luther King was, when he was murdered. (I was 11). Our families all watched Vietnam unfold before our eyes each evening along with body counts. We learned that yes, some of our Leaders have been little more than crooks and that our government will murder and lie. I grew up in a generation where when a person or group commit a murder, especially a multiple murder, they stayed quiet about it, they didn’t want anyone to find out it was them.
Fast forward to reality to this real world that we all live in. The examples I am going to use are just from this past few days. We see multiple terrorists attacks it seems each day around the world some where hundreds at a time have been murdered and it seems that the world isn’t even hardly noticing each one because there are so many. The only time it really strikes home is when the attack is literally close to home. Have you noticed that in today’s terror cells it is about getting all the ‘credit’ for their deeds. They use these video’s attacks of mass murder as advertisement to attract other fighters and to attract more financial donors. Have you noticed how often now that it happens that a group of murderers like Al-Qaeda make an attack inside their sphere of influence that another group like al-Shabab will do the same in theirs, ISIS the same and so on? They all get on their versions of social media and brag about haw many they murdered that day. Hell of a commercial for recruits and money isn’t it? Worse yet is the amount of people whom want to join these groups. Folks, the hatred for all things western by the people whom believe in the fundamentals of Islam is a very great hatred.
Even against the wishes of Hollywood, mass media and the idiots in D.C. America is starting to wake up as we are seeing reality in the lessons most of Europe is learning the hard way at this time. The whole world must learn the lesson that Islam is not like any other religion on Earth, Islam teaches total elimination, then total domination over everyone and everything. This is why so many of these murderers are so proud of their handy-work. When people believe that ‘their God’ congratulates and honors you the more people you can kill before you die, folks that is a sick ideology as it is a sick theology. But folks, it is the reality of the world that we all are sharing today. Smokey Bear it is now up to everyone to keep the fires of hatred squashed and tapped out before their hatred of you and all you have ever loved, gets stamped out.
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