Deadly Combination: Major Drought Compounds War-Torn Somalia’s Woes

As many as 1,200 Somali refugees per day are crossing over to Kenya to escape violence and drought. The UN is sounding the alarm about the effects of drought, two years after its Refugee Agency and other humanitarian groups were forced out of Somalia by t

File photo of UN refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya
File photo of UN refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya
Sébastien Hervieu

DADAAB – We've seen this before. At the entrance of the three refugee camps weary families stand in long lines, having fled their country for an all too familiar reason: unending war, exacerbated now by a serious drought.

Sadia Ogle arrived less than one week ago. Under a sheet metal shed, she waits in dry heat to get a yellow wristband that will give her a food ration for two weeks. To reach Dadaab, in the west of Kenya, she walked about 60 days with her five children, aged between one and seven, through the dry plains of Somalia.

"My husband and I had a farm with 30 cows and 14 goats in Afmadow, but they all died because there was no water," she said. "There was nothing left to eat and fights were getting more and more violent in town, so I left. I had been told I could find help here."

Ogle's husband stayed in Somalia to take care of his parents.

By the end of June, the number of Somali refugees had increased to approximately 30,000. Almost 1,200 people arrive every day. During his visit last Sunday, Antonio Guterres, commissioner for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), restated his will to see humanitarian aid supplied directly to Somalia – "so that Somali people don't come here in a miserable state," he said.

On July, 5, a spokesman for the Somali Islamist insurgent group Al-Shabbab said the organization was ready to negotiate with humanitarian organizations, which were expelled in 2009. Guterres responded that "we have to try to negotiate and see on what conditions they can return."

The UNHCR head regrets that this part of Africa is "pushed aside by the rest of the world" and asks for "the support of the international community" to face the consequences of what has been the worst drought in the Horn of Africa for 60 years. The UN estimates that 10 million people have been affected by the drought.

Crowded camps

In Dadaab, three out of five children suffer from malnutrition. Several deaths have been registered. The humanitarian associations in the country can so far cope with the inflow of refugees, but the crowding in the camps is another issue.

The three camps that were built in 1991 are run by the UNHRC, and are meant to have a capacity of 90,000 refugees. Today Dadaab shelters 376,000 people and has become the biggest refugee camp in the world. Newcomers must settle in the area outside the camp, where they don't have access to its basic service. "I've been sleeping outside and on the ground with my three kids since I got here, three days ago," says a young mother.

The overcrowding triggers conflicts as well. On June, 30, two refugees were killed by police during a riot that occurred after authorities demolished some illegal buildings. A few kilometres away, however, a new camp is ready to be occupied by refugees. Wells were built as well as dozens of brick houses with sheet metal roofs.

The Kenyan government, fearing a new inflow of refugees, has not yet agreed to welcome refugees in this camp despite the UNHCR's requests. "Refugees are here temporarily," the government says.

The refugees themselves tell a different story. "I came here in 1992," says Abdifalah Ismail. "Peace is the one thing that would make me go back to my country."

Read the orginal story in French

Photo - Mobilephotos@heidenstrom

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Running of the Bulls in Tafalla, northern Spain

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Здравейте!*

Welcome to Monday, where an apparent coup is underway in Sudan, Colombia's most-wanted drug lord gets caught, and Michael Jordan's rookie sneakers score an auction record. We also focus on a report that the Thai government is abusing the country's centuries-old law to protect the monarchy from criticism (lèse-majesté) to target pro-democracy activists and protesters.

[*Zdraveite - Bulgarian]


• Developing: Sudan leaders arrested amid military coup reports: Soldiers have arrested several members of Sudan's transitional government as well as civilian leaders, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has reportedly been put under house arrest, in what the information ministry called a military coup. Pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the capital city Khartoum where there are reports of gunfire and clashes.

• Colombia's most wanted drug lord to be sent to U.S.: Colombia's most dangerous drug trafficker, known as Otoniel, was caught after a joint army, air force and police operation and faces extradition to the U.S. He led the country's largest criminal gang, and was on the U.S. most wanted list for years.

• Xi speech marks China's UN anniversary: China's President Xi Jinping marked the 50th anniversary of Beijing's entry into the United Nations with a speech calling for greater global cooperation, adding that issues like climate change, terrorism and cyber security needed multilateral solutions. Taiwan was not mentioned.

• German ISIS bride jailed for crimes against humanity: A German court has sentenced a German woman and former member of the Islamic State to 10 years in prison for letting a 5-year-old Yazidi enslaved girl die of thirst in Iraq. The case is one of the world's first trials to prosecute a war crime against the Yazidis.

• COVID update: The Beijing marathon scheduled next weekend has been postponed until further notice as China seeks to stamp out Delta variant outbreak and return to zero cases ahead of the Winter Olympics next February. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Eastern Europe have surpassed the 20 million mark as the region fights against its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and vaccination efforts lag.

Goodbye, Gunther: U.S. actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as the barista Gunther on the TV show Friends, has died at 59 of prostate cancer.

• Sneakers record: A pair of Michael Jordan's white-and-red Nike shoes, which he wore during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, sold for $1.47 million — a new record price for sneakers at auction.


"The end of a boss," titles Colombian daily El Espectador, reporting on the arrest of drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, who had led Colombia's largest criminal gang and had been on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's most wanted list for years. He was captured in a raid and will be extradited to the U.S.



A Georgia man is being prosecuted for wire fraud after spending most of his business's COVID relief loan to buy one Pokémon trading card for $57,789.


How Thailand's "Lèse-Majesté" law is used to stifle all protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

👑 Thailand's Criminal Code "Lèse-Majesté" Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family. But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

🚨 The recent report "Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand," documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations." The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

💻 The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them. Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind.

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"Children are going to die. People are going to starve."

— The United Nations warns that Afghanistan verges on a "total breakdown" as millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken by the international community. The agency calls for the release of frozen assets to avoid economic and social collapse, despite concerns over the Taliban government. A recent report said that about 97% of Afghanistan's population may sink below the poverty line, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley warned that more than half of Afghanistan's population of 39 million were facing acute food insecurity and "marching to starvation" in comparison to 14 million two months ago.


Dutch cities have been secretly probing mosques since 2013

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talked to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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