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BY BARKHAD DAHIR
Hargeisa — Every day, dozens of children aged 7 to 14 shine shoes and wash cars in the front parking lot of the Adani Cafeteria in Hargeisa’s June 26th district.
“I come very early in the morning from my home in Dami neighbourhood to support my family by working as a shoe-shiner,” 9-year-old Ahmed Hassan said. “From [around 7:00 a.m.] to 8:00 p.m., I earn up to $3.”
He said he works out of necessity but “would like to be sent to school”. Hassan is among a growing number of Somaliland boys and girls caught up in the child labour market and whose rights are being violated, according to regional officials and children’s rights advocates.
Child labour has escalated here because of the increase in the number of displaced people, recent droughts, urban migration and loss of livestock, said Ahmed Hassan Yusuf, who directs the Somaliland branch of the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect.
“What is missing is the role of legislation, which is the most important tool,” Yusuf told Sabahi. “The Juvenile Justice Law in Somaliland addresses only children who break the law and how to penalise them, but it does not address crimes against them.”
Parents often are the ones who send their children off to work. Yusuf Osman of the Ga’an Libah district said he was forced to send two of his boys to work as shoe-shiners and car washers to help support their family of 11.
“The elder is 13 years old,” said Osman, who does not work. “I removed him from the middle school [that] he attended tuition-free for two years.” The exploitation of children for labour by parents and others violates the basic rights of minors, said Ahmed Yusuf Hussein, head of Hargeisa-based Horn Human Rights Umbrella.
Working children aged 11 and under are visible all over Somaliland, toiling away as shoe-shiners, car washers, bus conductors and dishwashers, he said, adding that employers prefer to hire under-age workers because they can put in long hours for low wages.
“The government has no clear policies set to combat this issue,” he told Sabahi. “I am proposing the creation of a fund to address the abuses being committed against the children.”
Child labour a‘problem that exists all over Somaliland’
Despite a lack of resources, the Somaliland regional Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is campaigning hard to end child labour and abuse, said Filsan Hussein Khalif, director of the children’s rights and protection division.
“No official count has yet been done on the number of working children, but the number is increasing and it is a general problem that exists all over Somaliland,” she said.
Khalif said the ministry was investigating possible exploiters of child labour, and has documented complaints about parents physically abusing their children because they did not bring home enough earnings.
“Children are robbed of their earnings by older ones, and as earnings go down or they lose it, they are beaten by their parents when they go home,” she told Sabahi. “Later, because they are afraid, they become homeless.”
Last year, the ministry and the international non-governmental organisation Save the Children created income-generating programmes for 85 poor families as a way to prevent parents from sending their children to work. The ministry also collaborated with international non-governmental organisation SOS Children’s Villages to finance small-scale business opportunities for 45 more families.
In 2012, the ministry created a centre to rehabilitate homeless street children in the Mohamed Mooge district of Hargeisa, Khalif said, adding that the centre now houses 140 boys and girls.
The ministry this year plans to count the number of child workers in Somaliland, Khalif said, without elaborating on what new policies, if any, the regional administration plans to pursue in order to protect children from being exploited.
Nairobi — UN has called for faster resolution of the Somali crisis to save Kenya, the country hosting thousands of refugees from the Horn of Africa nation, from various challenges, said a statement issued on Sunday.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who met Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto in Japan also said the world body is aware of the challenges Kenya was facing in ensuring peace and stability in Somalia.
“When I visited Dadaab refugee camp last year, I witnessed a very sad situation where 600,000 people are crowded in one place. That population alone is more than that of some countries in the world,” Ban said according to a statement issued in Nairobi.
Citing a number of grenade attacks in since late 2011, Kenyan authorities contended that the relocation of Somali refugees from Kenya will improve country’s national security and lead to the return of Somali refugees to Somalia.
Currently the country hosts some 630,000 refugees, of whom more than half a million are from neighboring Somalia. Kenyan officials say that any potential influx of new arrivals will put further pressure on the existing precarious situation.
The UN refugee agency and other aid agencies working in Somalia have however cautioned the government against repatriation of the refugees, saying such exercise betrays the spirit, places lives at risk and contravenes the principles of non-refoulement or not forced return that are contained in the country’s new constitution, its Refugee Act and in international refugee law.
During the meeting in Japan, Ban said Kenya’s push for resettlement of more than 600,000 refugees who live in camps along northern part of the country should be supported by the international community.
“I could feel the huge challenge Kenya was facing and I sympathized with the President at that time because of instability in Somalia,” he said, vowing UN supports the resettlement of the refugees who have been living in refugee camps in Kenya.
“I urge you (Kenya) to focus on helping Somalia in the efforts to entrench peace, democracy and governance,” he said.
Kenya which hosted protracted negotiations that culminated in the formation of the transitional federal government of Somalia said the refugee situation continues to pose security threats to Nairobi and the region apart from the humanitarian crisis.
During the meeting, Ruto expressed Kenya’s commitment to the peace process in Somalia so that it could concentrate on its internal issues.
He said Nairobi has a porous border with no government on the Somalia side, warning that Kenya risked by taking her soldiers to Somalia because it was becoming untenable to watch militants from there.
“We are witnessing retaliatory attacks from Al-Shabaab and Al- Qaida but as a government we are firm and will ensure safety of the country and security of the people,” Ruto said.
He said the East African nation was banking on the support of the UN and the international community in a bid to ensure peace prevails in Somalia.
“We need to assist the government of Somalia to stabilize so that it can have functional structures and move away from the challenges it currently faces,” he said.
He added that there is need to resolve the refugee crisis as a matter of priority so as to ensure that the Horn of Africa has lasting peace.
The deputy president said a stable government in Mogadishu would enable Kenya to concentrate on its development agenda and enable tourism to flourish.
Ruto said that a summit on Somalia will be held in September in Nairobi to map out the way forward on the resettlement of refugees.
“What we want is to have a safe return of the Somalis to their country and we would appreciate UN support on this. We are engaged in talks with UNHCR on the resettlement issue,” Ruto said.
Hargeisa — Fatima Mohamed, a 24-year-old medical student at Gollis University in Hargeisa, no longer needs to worry about obtaining hard copies of textbooks in her field.
College textbooks have been in short supply in Somalia since the civil war, but now Mohamed has a better chance of accessing the books though a new electronic library that opened last month at the privately-run campus.
“I am happy about this service because it will be help improve and strengthen students’ knowledge … it has made studying easier for me,” she told Sabahi.
The electronic textbook library became the first of its kind to open in Somalia when Gollis University officials unveiled it at the Hargeisa campus on February 12th. Students can now sit at a computer workstation and access textbooks on the screen in front of them.
Aidaros Mohamed Abib, the university’s academic dean, said the electronic library is free for the university’s 3,500 students.
“At any one time, 30 students can sit there, having the ability to use books used by the different college departments — most of which are engineering, science, medicine, management and administration books,” Abib said.
Abib said he hopes the university will be able to increase the number of computers in the library to accommodate more students at a time.
In addition, next month Gollis University plans to launch an online portal, where students and non-students alike can pay a nominal fee to access textbooks from any location via the internet.
“We will establish an [online] portal accessible from anywhere, and issue memberships to anyone who is interested,” said Walid Mohamed Ali, director of the university’s information technology department.
Once the portal is up and running, it will provide access to 50,000 college-level textbooks as well as 10,000 video and audio lectures online, he told Sabahi. Most of the textbooks are published in English, but some will be available in Arabic.
Establishing an electronic library will help redress the critical shortage of textbooks and reference books in Somaliland, but the region still has too few public libraries and too many textbooks are published in languages other than Somali, said Khadar Abayare, a professor at the University of Hargeisa.
Hargeisa only has two libraries open to the public: the privately-run Gandhi Public Library and a centre run by the British organisation African Educational Trust, said Hodo Sultan Aden, head of the Mohamed Mogeh Association for Reading, Writing, Tradition and Culture.
“Reading is an important element that is missing now, and students are limited to the explanations given by teachers,” Aden told Sabahi. “This is a challenge that inhibits the quality and learning growth of university students in Somaliland.”
As Somalia emerges from civil war, it is women who are rebuilding the economy according to businesswomen in Mogadishu, and students and the rector of the University of Somalia, who says: ‘It is the women the economy relies on. The men are there for fighting’.
Click here to watch the video posted on The Guardian website
Source: The Guardian
Go2School: Raising Somalia’s educational standards
It is estimated that 4.4 million of young Somalis are out of education, a devastating figure in terms of the nation’s future and hopes of development. Led by Ministers of Education and supported by UNICEF, the Go2School initiative aims to educate 1 million Somali children and young people between 2013-2015, bringing education to those restricted from schooling due to social circumstances and a lack of qualified teaching staff.
Somali Relief and Development Forum are supporting the Go2School initiative by working with United for Somali Students (USS) to mobilise the Somali diasporas within the UK, encouraging those interested in teaching across the Horn of Africa to register their interest and takes their first steps towards transforming Somalia’s education system.
For further information and to register your interest in the Go2School initiative visit the Teach Somalia website
We’re proud to announce that the inspirational Shaykh Said Rageah, Shaykh AbdulRashid Ali Sufi, Shaykh Mustafa Haji Ismail and more will be discussing the characteristics of those ‘Who are the Servants of the Most Merciful?’ (v63-76 Surah Furqan) at our London and Birmingham Islamic Conferences. Please note, the event will be in Somali.
And the servants of Allah Most Gracious are those who walk on the Earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, PEACE!’
Exploring the Surah Furqan’s teachings of humility, humbleness and the importance of generosity within a modern context the Sheiks will offer invaluable guidance on leading a righteous and worthy life within today’s society, placing the conferences as unique and significant events for the Islamic community.
Help us help Somalia
In addition, attending the event will provide you with the opportunity to bring a better future to Somalia’s most needy, as SRDF will be fundraising for the development of essential groundwater wells, eye care provision and education projects during the conference.
Venues and ticket information:
London – Wednesday 3 April 2013
173 Euston Road
London NW1 2BJ
Birmingham – Thursday 4 April 2013
Birmingham Rex Centre
430-434 Coventry Road
Tickets are just £12 with a limited number available at an early bird price of £10
To book call 020 7845 7603 or 07950874256
Order online at srdfconference.eventbrite.co.uk
The British Ambassador to Somalia, Matt Baugh, welcomed the completion of the UK-funded Balad road and bridge refurbishment.
The project was funded under the UK Stabilisation programme which will support the government’s stabilisation and recovery efforts in newly recovered areas of southern Somalia.
Speaking in Mogadishu alongside the Somalia Minister of Interior, Abdikarim Hussein Guuled, Ambassador Matt Baugh said:
“The UK Stabilisation Programme works with the Somali Government to help extend its reach and capacity, improve stability, and establish the conditions for longer-term recovery in southern Somalia. We welcome the government’s progress since transition in liberating areas from Al Shabaab. I wish to reiterate our commitment to support the government and the people of Somalia in their efforts to a build a more peaceful and prosperous Somalia.”
The UK has already allocated £3 million to the programme and will make an additional contribution over the coming year.
The Balad project was implemented by the Nordic International Support Foundation (NIS) in support of the local administration and the Ministry of Interior. The project has rehabilitated 1.7 km of primary road and repaired the main bridge of Balad town. This will improve access for local businesses and economic opportunities for the community. It will also help support the local administration through the provision of public services.
On the Balad Road and Bridge refurbishment, Ambassador Matt Baugh said: “This project is already supporting local commerce by facilitating the transit of goods between Mogadishu and central and northern regions as well as creating the necessary physical infrastructure for future development activities.”
During the four month construction period, the project employed over 900 local people, playing an important role in the economic recovery of the area.
“So much of this was new to me,” says Khadra Ibrahim. Her tidy home is fashioned from corrugated metal, tins hammered flat and sturdy tree limbs. Her daughters Happy, 2, and Nimo, 4, play outside while she feeds baby Ubah. “I didn’t know how important it was to breastfeed or how just washing my child’s hands with soap can stop illnesses that cause them to become malnourished.”
By Mike Pflanz
BURAO, Somalia, 12 February 2013 – The first year of Ubah Ismail’s life was difficult. At 5 months, she had pneumonia, followed by a severe intestinal upset that left her with diarrhoea for much of her sixth month.
Like hundreds of thousands of other Somali children affected by illness, Ubah lacked adequate complementary food and access to clean water. By the age of 7 months, she required treatment for severe malnutrition.
Addressing malnutrition – permanently
Ubah, who is now a year old, and her mother, Khadra Ibrahim, benefited from an innovative community-based approach to addressing acute malnutrition in Somalia permanently – an approach that goes beyond providing food and medicine to children like Ubah.
The package of treatment and care includes ensuring that more and more families are visited by health volunteers so that children suffering from malnutrition are identified early.
It includes home-based special feeding regimes, as well as enhanced access to oral rehydration salts and zinc, for those children suffering from diarrhoea.
And it includes encouraging mothers to take measures that will drastically reduce the chances that their children will suffer malnutrition again. They are taught the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, appropriate complementary feeding practices and good hygiene. They learn how poor nutrition is often caused by inadequate dietary intake and illnesses that leave the children unable to absorb food.
The integrated approach was launched because the nutritional status of Somalia’s children deteriorated, following drought in 2010–2011. It was implemented by UNICEF in partnership with Medair and PSI, supported by the Government of Japan, AusAID and the Saudi National Campaign for the Relief of the Somali People.
Aisha Mohamed and her team of 15 volunteers are a major part of the reason that mothers in Burao now know how to prevent malnutrition. Each member of the team is responsible for 15 households, which they visit regularly to keep an eye on younger children and on mothers, especially if they are pregnant.
These ‘health promoters’ hold discussions with mothers individually in their homes and in groups at health centres that focus on infant and young-child feeding and maternal nutrition issues.
One by one, Aisha lists the ways in which women can help themselves.
“Good antenatal care, including making sure you yourself have good nutrition when you are pregnant,” she starts. “Have your baby in a proper health facility. Breastfeed exclusively for the first six months. Immunize your children. Keep your house clean and wash hands with soap before cooking and eating and after going to the toilet. Keep utensils clean. Purify your drinking water.”
All of these are simple activities that cost even the poorest families next to nothing, says Zeinab Adan, a midwife who helps manage a major mother and child health centre in Burao town.
“Breastfeeding is the best example,” she says. She has just held a discussion with 30 new and expecting mothers. “It is free. It is healthy. Almost any mother can do it, if they learn how from us. It has no disadvantages at all.”
Integrating prevention, even during emergencies
In 2010–2011, in response to the drought, Medair, a UNICEF partner in Somaliland, sent teams of health workers far into the countryside each week to seek out children suffering from acute malnutrition. Severely malnourished children were referred to outpatient therapeutic programmes, where mothers brought their children for weekly checks on weight, upper-arm circumference and signs of fever and were given supplies of peanut paste-based therapeutic food.
“This was a normal response to the crisis,” says nutrition manager for Medair in Burao Abdullahi Abdi. “What was different this time was that, even during the emergency phase, we were integrating lessons about preventing malnutrition into our response.”
Those messages reached many women, but there is a great need for them to reach more, Mr. Abdi says.
The integrated approach has been successful, but malnutrition is still a risk in Burao, and still needs monitoring.
At a health centre across town, Fauzia Hashi is among the women and children queuing so the children can be treated for severe acute malnutrition. Asked if she knows about exclusive breastfeeding, good hygiene at home and immunizing her children against measles, she frowns.
“It’s only when I came here for the first time three weeks ago that I learned about this,” she says. “We need to know more about it – it can save our children from falling sick again.”
President Hassan Shiekh Mohamud, who returned back yesterday from a trip that took him to Europe and Egypt, has told at a news conference in Mogadishu that the world community is ready to help Somalia and its people but the Somalis are first needed to help themselves and start rebuilding their nation after long years of chaos and war.
“We have to move forward from where we are now” said the president during his news conference in which he detailed about his trip to the headquarters of the European Union, London and finally the Islamic summit in Cairo.
The president said that at the Islamic summit in Cairo, leaders from the Islamic world have discussed Somalia and ways to help Somalia and he mentioned that the summit donated economic fund to Somalia which would be administered by a joint commission from Somalia and the Islamic development bank.