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  • Written by IRIN ah/mw/oa/cb

Somalia: Is there any point in talking to Al-Shabab?

The TFG controls most of Mogadishu while Al-Shabab controls large portions of south-central Somalia. Photo: Siegfried Modola/IRIN.[NAIROBI] Al-Shabab insurgents remain a potent force in Somalia, but there is no public hint of talks on the horizon to reach a political settlement.

The suicide bombing by Al-Shabab in Mogadishu on 4 October, which claimed the lives of over 100 people, underlined its ability to reach into the heart of the capital, despite its withdrawal from the city in August.

Its control of large portions of south-central Somalia requires international agencies to reach agreements with Al-Shabab commanders to access the millions in need of food aid.

  • Written by Niamh Griffin

Irish donations to East Africa continue to rise

Ethiopia and Kenya are in the midst of a widespread food emergency but thanks to earlier aid programmes, they have so far avoided catastrophe and famine, unlike Somalia. Source: from Ireland for the drought-stricken region of East Africa continue to rise according to aid agencies.

Figures provided by just three agencies in Ireland show donations to their projects now stand at €14.6 million. This exceeds the total previously raised by the umbrella body of more than 40 Irish aid agencies and development organisations, Dóchas, of which all three are members.

A spokesman for Trócaire, Eoghan Rice, said today €8.9 million has been donated to that agency since July 5th.

Concern has collected €4.4 million for the region since June according to spokeswoman Eithne Healy. “It’s a huge amount of money. It’s incredible when you think of the difficulties people here are going through,” she said. Last week, Concern’s Overseas Director Paul O’Brien called for greater media coverage, saying: “The Horn of Africa is in danger of becoming another ‘hidden emergency’ as the media spotlight falls elsewhere.”

A spokesman for Oxfam Ireland, Paul Dunphy, said €1.3 million has been collected since July for Oxfam projects.

  • Written by World and Media

Media inattention towards Horn of Africa crisis 'inconceivable' and 'wrong'

A mass grave for children in Dadaab. Children have walked for weeks across the desert to get to Dadaab refugee camp, and many perish on the way. Others have died shortly after arrival. On the edge of the camp, a young girl stands amid the freshly made graves of 70 children, many of whom died of malnutrition. Photo: Andy Hall/Oxfam.The Horn of Africa is facing its worst drought in sixty years. But despite some notable journalism, the crisis has struggled to obtain media coverage and raise sufficient funds from donors. It now risks becoming a "hidden emergency", says relief and development agency Concern.

In July and August, the famine accounted for just 0.7% of mainstream media news coverage in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

For man-made reasons, the emergency in Somalia is particularly severe. Yet, Google indexes only 70% more news stories about "famine" in Somalia in 2011 to-date than stories about its pirates (4,770 vs. 2,770).

Social media and Internet traffic figures suggest that the public is also paying little attention to the humanitarian emergency.

Yesterday (September 21), Concern Worldwide warned that the drought and conflict-induced hunger and nutrition crisis in the Horn of Africa is already dropping off the news headlines just as the imminent rainy season "threatens to exacerbate an already dire situation affecting nearly 12 million people in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia."

  • Written by IRIN ah/am/cb

Somalia: Insurgents' defeat leaves town between hope and fear

Many Bulo Hawo residents have fled since the ousting on 17 October of insurgents by pro-government forces (file photo: Mohamed Garane/IRIN)[NAIROBI] The ousting on 17 October of insurgents by pro-government forces in Bulo Hawo, a town in Somalia’s southwestern Gedo region elicited mixed emotions among war-weary residents, thousands of whom have taken flight.

"There is hope that the government takeover will lead to peace and stability but there is fear that this is not the end and more fighting will follow," said Shukri Gedi, a resident of the town, which lies close to the Kenyan border.

Bulo Hawo, along with most of the Gedo region, had been under the control of the Islamist Al-Shabab insurgency for a year. The insurgents were chased out of the town by forces led by Barre Aden Hiirale, a member of the transitional parliament.

  • Written by IRIN ah-js/am/cb

Somaliland poll fuels recognition hopes

But who’s saluting? Somaliland’s flag is unrecognized outside the territory. Photo: Somaliland flag, Flickr/guuleed.Source: IRIN

[HARGEISA] (IRIN) - As voters in Somaliland prepared to finally cast their ballots in a tight, oft-delayed presidential election on 26 June, there was one outcome for which almost everybody in the territory, regardless of political or clan affiliation, was rooting.

Peaceful and well-conducted polls “will lead to international recognition of Somaliland”, Mohamedrashid Sheikh Hassan, who is running for vice-president on the opposition Justice and Welfare Party (UCID) ticket, told IRIN.

“The first task” of whoever wins “is getting international recognition. Everything else follows from there. Without it you cannot have development,” said Said Ahmed Hassan, the president of Gollis University in Hargeisa.

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