Two young men, including a teenager, were stabbed to death within half a mile of each other in a night of knife violence.

A 17-year-old boy died in the street after being “jumped” outside a corner shop in Kentish Town. Less than two hours later a 20-year-old died after being stabbed near Belsize Park.

Detectives are investigating possible gang links to both killings and police imposed blanket stop and search powers across Camden in a bid to halt further attacks.

Both victims are of Somali origin and Scotland Yard said it had not ruled out a possible link between the two incidents.

The brother of one of the victims was also stabbed to death in north London in September last year.

There were reports of several other non fatal knifings in Camden last night, although it is not known if they are linked.

The stabbings were the deadliest night of knife violence in London since New Year’s Eve, when four young men were stabbed to death.

So far this year 16 people have been stabbed to death in the capital, the 17-year-old is the sixth teenager to die in a stabbing.

On Monday Home Secretary Amber Rudd pledged a new attempt to tackle the “terrible” toll of knife deaths telling the Standard that more cash would be invested in “early intervention” schemes that seek to divert young people away from carrying blades.

Today Mayor Sadiq Khan also called for an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary to discuss what more can be done across government to tackle the issue.

The 17-year-old boy was attacked near Saver’s Mini Mart on Bartholomew Road, yards from his home on the Peckwater estate.

He was named locally as Abdikarim Hassan.

An auntie, who was comforting the boy’s mother this morning, said: “He was a nice boy. We can’t believe what has happened. It’s a nightmare.”

Family friend Layla Awad said: “He was such a nice boy – he had an innocent face and was so polite. They are a lovely family.”

Friends said the 17 year old was a former pupil at William Ellis secondary school in Camden and was studying at Westminster College.

Witnesses said they saw him staggering from the estate, before collapsing outside a shop where a local doctor battled to save his life.

One local said: “He was a lovely boy, he was always playing football on the pitch on the estate. He had just been going to the shop when he was attacked. It’s become like a territorial war zone around here.”

The 20-year-old stabbed in Malden Road, Belsize Park at around 10.13pm yesterday was named locally as Sadiq Aadam.

His brother Mohamed Aadam, 20, was stabbed to death in Camden in September last year. Their cousin, Mohamed Abdullahi, also 20, was fatally stabbed in the heart in a case of mistaken identity in 2013.

Source: standard.co.uk

It was an emotional moment for the nearly dozen Somali migrants who were repatriated to Mogadishu from Libya on Saturday.

Some fell to their knees, crying; others placed their foreheads to the ground in prayer; while some chanted the Somalia national anthem as they disembarked from a Turkish Airways plane that had flown them from Libya, where some had been stranded for years, to the Somali capital.

Since 2014, Libya has become a major transit point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East who are trying to get to Europe to flee instability and violence.

Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled, members of parliament and representatives from civil society organizations welcomed the migrants at the airport. The migrants then told stories of abuse, fear and horror they had experienced in Libya.

Survivor’s tale

Abdikarim Mohamed Omar, 22, who shared his story with VOA’s Somali service, was among those repatriated Saturday. He said he left Somalia in 2016 and traveled to Libya via Ethiopia and Sudan.

Before reaching Libya, Omar said, he lost several of his Somali friends during the journey. At one point, he said, they fought with Eritrean migrants.

“I was among 150 migrants packed into a truck by smugglers from Sudan — 100 Eritreans and 50 Somalis. They mercilessly forced us into a truck that fit only 30 people. Some of the Somali migrants were thrown out of the truck into the desert. Then we fought with the Eritreans for survival. Several of my friends were killed during the conflict,” Omar said.

Earlier this week in Libya, a truck packed with more than 200 illegal migrants, mainly from Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan, overturned near Bani Walid, killing 19 of them. Sixty others were injured.

Omar said that once he reached Libya, he was filled with painful memories that he could not forget. He and other migrants were taken to the Kufra detention center, in southeast Libya.

“They lock us up in a room, where we hardly eat. You have no place to urinate. The room is overcrowded with migrants. Some of us sit the whole night, and some sleep a few hours. Every morning, they severely beat you with iron rods and sticks,” he said.

“To taste the pain and convince our parents to pay them, the smuggler woke us up with beatings early in the morning and send us to silence or sleep at night with beatings,” Omar said. “It was like our daily greetings and the first communication between the smugglers and the detainees.”

He continued, “Because of the constant torture [and] hunger, many of the migrants in the detention room where I was died, including my Somali friend who shared a blanket with me.”

Fleeing Africa, Middle East

Since 2014, more than 600,000 people have crossed the central Mediterranean to Italy. But the number of illegal migrants housed in Libyan detention centers has risen dramatically this year since armed groups in the western city of Sabratha began preventing boats from departing for Europe.

After clashes in Sabratha in September, thousands of migrants held near the coast were transferred to detention centers under the nominal control of the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli.

However, Amnesty International said in December 2017 that up to 20,000 people were being held in detention centers and were subject to “torture, forced labor, extortion and unlawful killings.”

Other human rights organizations have said similar things in recent months.

Late last year, Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commissions, said an estimated 400,000 to 700,000 African migrants were being detained in dozens of camps across the chaotic North African country, often being held under inhumane conditions.

Omar said he was lucky to escape from the Kufra detention center months ago, but he has since lived in Tripoli, in constant fear and hiding.

On Saturday, he was among 10 migrants repatriated to Mogadishu.

The repatriation effort was ordered by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo after U.S. broadcaster CNN showed footage of a slave auction in Libya where migrant Africans were shown being sold.

“Following the order of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, the government has repatriated 10 Somali migrants from Libya and 30 more will be repatriated soon,” said Guled, the deputy prime minister.

Seeking to repatriate Somalis

The Somali government is working to return to their homeland a large number of Somali migrants who are in Libya. Earlier this week, that effort hit a snag, however, when the delegation sent to Libya was unable to persuade migrants to abandon the dangerous journey to Europe and instead return to Somalia.

The migrants have told government officials behind the repatriation effort that they have suffered during the journey to Libya but feel they have “nothing else to lose.”

Upon arrival, the 10 Somalis were registered with the government. For six months, they will have their relocation expenses paid for by the Somali government. The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are providing some training to help the recent returnees rejoin their communities and build their lives.

Mariam Yassin, special envoy for migrants and children’s rights of Somalia, was among the delegation sent by the Somali government to Libya this week to try to persuade migrants to return home. She said those who returned Saturday had survived a harsh journey.

“Among them are migrants who have spent three years in the hands of smugglers in Kufra, [in] south Libya. And now Allah saved them from the unbearable torments and torture they have been mentally and physically subjected to,” Yassin said.

Ahmed Abdikarim Nur, Somalia’s commissioner of refugees and internally displaced persons, said because of the extent of the abuses they faced, some migrants could not openly tell their horrific stories.

“They told us that they feel ashamed and embarrassed. … They have been subjected to all inhumane abuses against mankind,” Nur said.

The Somali government plan was to repatriate more than 5,000 migrants stranded in detention centers in Libya, but so far only about 40 migrants have accepted the repatriation.

“Our plan is to repatriate all those who want to return home,” Nur said.

Source: VOA

Nine people – including one young boy – have been arrested on suspicion of hunting and selling tortoises in the self-declared republic of Somaliland.

Somaliland’s environment minister Shukri Hajji Ismail told reporters six rescued tortoises – some so large they were too heavy to carry – were being looked after at the ministry, according to privately-owned Radio Risala.

“Nine people were arrested,” he said. “One of them is a young boy who was sent to collect the money. The rest are men.

“We have six tortoises at the ministry now. Some of them are so big that they could not be carried by grown men.

“People seem convinced that the bigger the tortoise, the better the price. We have not caught any potential buyers…

“We understand there are people in this world who eat tortoises, frogs and snakes.”

Last month, several Somali regional authorities warned against the hunting of tortoise amid a rising demand for the reptiles in the country.

The tortoise is one of the world’s most endangered animals.

Source: BBC

Somaliland is a country which doesn’t officially exist.

It broke away from the rest of Somalia after a bitter civil war in 1991, a conflict which plunged the rest of Somalia into violent conflict and instability and a war with the extremist al-Shabaab terrorist organisation.

Although it has not been officially recognised as independent in those 26 years, Somaliland, a former British protectorate, has de facto diplomatic links and support from regional and international powers.

What is more, it has remained peaceful and without any violent conflicts. It’s also held four multiparty Presidential elections all resulting in a peaceful transfer of power.

Yet despite these political achievements, Somaliland faces huge and debilitating problems and obstacles.

One of the most severe is that of Female Genital Mutilation, FGM. It’s a dangerous and painful procedure and the UN says 98% of women in Somaliland have undergone it.

Many have had what is known as type three FGM – the most extreme – where a young girl’s labia is cut, and her vagina sealed, leaving only a small opening for menstruation and urination.

Even though Somaliland is a country that very people have heard of, many activists believe it is on the verge of becoming the first country in Africa to commit to ending the practice of FGM.

Just before the recent Presidential election of November 13th, the candidates from the each of the three rival parties pledged that if they won, they would commit their administrations to ending FGM in the country.

Getting that political commitment was due to the drive and passion of Nimco Ali, a British campaigner against FGM who was born in Somaliland. She worked with British politicians from all sides to get the law on FGM changed in the UK and she has returned to Somaliland to try to do the same there.

She is convinced that there has been a profound change within Somaliland’s society that has created a movement to try to stop a practice which has seen so many women’s health and lives destroyed.

Other campaigners have worked to the same end for decades, especially Edna Adan, a health pioneer in Somaliland and a former foreign minister.

She built a maternity hospital which bears her name in 1982. Since that time she has helped 22,000 women and she told me that 97% had been “cut” – a word used to describe FGM which graphically captures what actually happens to a woman’s vagina.

Imet Asha, is a “cutter”, a woman who performs FGM. She was taught it by her mother, and she told me that her own daughter had undergone the procedure and suffered painful consequences as a result.

When I asked why she continued to perform FGM despite the experience of her daughter, she said she would stop if she could find an alternative way to make a living.

One of the clearest signs of this sea change in attitudes in Somaliland is the fact that many religious leaders are now themselves beginning to preach against FGM.

In August, 180 Islamic clerics attended a UNICEF conference in the capital Hargeisa, where they were taught in great detail what happens to a woman’s genitalia as a result of FGM.

They also heard from senior Muslim clerics from Al Azhar University in Cairo, a renowned seat of Islamic learning, that there was absolutely no religious obligation to perform FGM.

Completely eradicating FGM will not happen overnight in Somaliland. But if this political commitment is followed through, it will make history.

Source

The much anticipated election of a new president in Somaliland had expats dancing the night away Saturday in Edmonton.

Chair covers decked out in the red, white and green of the Somaliland flag, balloons and banners in the yellow and green of the victorious Kulmiye party, and thumping music was the backdrop for the celebration at the Portuguese Cultural Centre at 12964 52 St.

Wearing a Kulmiye scarf and cap, Mohamad Bakal said the party is closest to what the people want.

Somaliland, a semi-autonomous region in the northwest of Somalia, elected president Muse Bihi Abdi of the Kulmiye party — also known as the Peace, Unity and Development Party — on Nov. 13. The results of the region’s fifth presidential election were confirmed by Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission a week after recounts.

Guests who attended the celebration were greeted with a petition, which will be sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asking for Somaliland’s independence to be recognized.

Bakal said it will be good to get a somewhat younger president in power who will bring fresh ideas on how to develop Somaliland. Abdi is 68 while outgoing president Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud is 86.

Somaliland was previously colonized by the United Kingdom while the rest of Somalia was colonized by Italy.

The recent election had been delayed for two years due to drought and lack of funding. Britain funded the election.

To prevent electoral fraud, iris-recognition technology was used in the elections, Bakal said.

Mohamoud Jama with the Somaliland Cultural Association said in a speech that Somaliland’s democratic elections can serve as an example for the rest of Africa.

“Our people have spoken and expressed their wishes by their votes rather than violence and bombings,” Jama said. “All parties have won in this case there are no winners or losers. We are all winners.”
Source

Muslims could make up over 11 percent of Europe’s population in the coming decades, compared with just under 5 percent currently, if legal migration levels are maintained, a report by a US-based think tank said Thursday.

The Pew Research Center, in a study entitled “Europe’s Growing Muslim Population” issued three projections based on different migration scenarios – zero arrivals, “medium” flows and “high” migration.

It showed that even if all migration into Europe stopped immediately, the Muslim population of the 28-member European Union plus Norway and Switzerland would rise to 7.4 percent from 4.9 percent in 2016.
Europe received more than one million migrants and refugees in 2015, according to figures from the UN’s refugee agency.

Most arrived from Muslim-majority nations and some rightwing political parties have upped their anti-Muslim rhetoric in their wake.

Fertility rates

Pew, which based its projections on government data and other studies, explained the rise by saying that fertility rates were higher among Muslims, who are on average 13 years younger than non-Muslims.

The “medium” scenario was based on a return to the levels of migration seen before the refugee influx of 2015/2016.

Under that scenario the proportion of people who self-identify as Muslim was projected to more than double to 11.2 percent of the population in 2050. The third model was based on refugees, most of them Muslim, continuing to arrive in the record numbers seen in 2015 and 2016.

Under that scenario Muslims would account for 14 percent of Europe’s population in 2050, which Pew said was “still considerably smaller than the populations of both Christians and people with no religion”.

The authors of the report also noted that refugee flows had already begun to decline in line with EU efforts to curb arrivals, suggesting the third outcome was unlikely.

Migration factor

Pew’s projections showed Europe being unevenly affected by migration. If arrivals halted altogether, France – which was home to an estimated 5.7 million Muslims (8.8 percent) in 2016 according to the report – would continue to have Europe’s largest Muslim community.

Under the “medium” scenario, Britain – the top destination for non-refugee Muslims migration — would pass out France while under the “high” scenario the mantle would pass to Germany, which has received over 1.5 million refugees in the past two years.

The report also highlighted the role of migration in stemming population decline in Europe. In the absence of further migrants the population was projected to shrink from 521 million in 2016 to 482 million in 2050.

Under the “medium” scenario, it would rise to 517 million people, while in the “high” migration scenario would take it to 539 million.

Source: Al Arabiya

Last week, the Republic of Somaliland’s independent National Electoral Commission announced the result of our country’s presidential election, which took place on November 13.

For a sixth consecutive occasion since 2003, Somaliland’s citizens participated in multi-party and largely peaceful elections, certified as free and fair by a 60-strong team of international observers, the result of which has been accepted by all three parties who entered candidates.

Just as notably, in a world first, the elections employed pioneering iris-recognition technology to register and identify voters, which is testament to Somaliland’s commitment to investing its resources in democratic institutions and the rule of law.

I am honoured to have been chosen by Somalilanders as their next president. Amid the celebrations on the streets of Hargeisa, my transition team has already begun the hard work of preparing to hit the ground running following my inauguration next month.

We are under no illusions about the scale of the challenges facing Somaliland.

Despite the peace and stability largely prevailing in Somaliland, security remains the paramount concern for many international actors in the Horn of Africa. The instability and terror campaign perpetuated by al-Shabaab beyond our southern border, in Somalia, and the acts of piracy across our coastline to the east, make us acutely aware of Somaliland’s role in supporting international efforts to combat these forces.

My administration will remain committed to this agenda and continue to invest in security measures to protect our citizens and members of the international community residing and doing business in our country.

The economic headwinds facing Somaliland are equally fundamental. Our per-capita GDP is one of the lowest in the world. Unemployment is far too high, particularly among the 70 per cent of the population below the age of 30.

We are overly reliant on our livestock sector. Food constitutes Somalilanders’ single largest expense, but is increasingly imported, compounding the impact of currency depreciation on household budgets. The World Bank describes Somaliland’s private sector as “dynamic and highly entrepreneurial”, but its more than 90 per cent contribution to GDP reflects an absence of state investment.

To combat these dynamics, we will invest in Somaliland’s infrastructure to stimulate growth and create job opportunities. We anticipate that the development of roads, electrical grids, and both existing and new ports along our 850km of coastline will accelerate growth and help rebalance our economy.

Somaliland also faces a public health crisis, exacerbated by the Horn of Africa recently suffering its most severe drought in 35 years. A life expectancy of 50 years is significantly lower than elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, while a devastating 9 per cent of children do not live to the age of five. My administration will equip the Ministry of Health with the resources to radically lower infant mortality rates and promote greater access to clean water, particularly across rural communities.

Similarly, educational attainment is lower in Somaliland than similar countries in the region. We aspire towards academic excellence and will introduce reforms to expand the literacy rate and improve the quality of our primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions.

Investment in our social infrastructure is, however, contingent on our ability to attract international investors to Somaliland’s shores. The $442m investment from DP World in the Berbera Port was an important milestone in our efforts to establish Somaliland as a hub for inward investment on the Horn of Africa — creating a strategic and secure location for infrastructure and an entry point to access the wider east Africa market.

We have developed important trading partnerships with the United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia of late, which we hope to build on and expand over the course of the next five years.

These challenges and opportunities are cast against the backdrop of our enduring quest to secure international recognition, which creates an enforced exclusion from international markets and global trading networks and compounds the socio-economic pressures that Somaliland faces.

Efforts to secure international recognition will of course continue under my administration, and will be combined with a strategic focus on achieving a network of bilateral trading relationships; but Somalilanders can be sure that we will not allow our international status to impede action on the reform agenda that I set out on the election campaign.

I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor, President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo, who showed great commitment to national security, expanding Somaliland’s international presence, and investing in housing and infrastructure.

But we are cognisant of where the government has fallen short in the past seven years. Corruption in particular remains all too present within Somaliland, and we will seize this opportunity to root it out and rebuild the state apparatus to work in the best interest of all citizens. This will include appointing a cabinet guided by the principle of inclusive meritocracy: I will oversee a highly competent ministerial line-up of experts in their respective domains, which has greater gender balance and is more representative of Somaliland’s population than before.

About 700,000 Somalilanders voted in this presidential election. An 80 per cent turnout in the context of a year of terrible drought, which caused the postponement of the elections, reflects the faith of the people of Somaliland in democratic institutions, and their high expectations of the incoming administration.

We are committed to repaying the trust that Somaliland has placed in us, and we look forward to rising to the ambitious challenges the electorate has set us.

Muse Bihi Abdi is President-Elect of the Republic of Somaliland.

Source: Financial Times

High spirits and a celebratory atmosphere have characterised the political campaign rallies in the run-up to a long-awaited presidential election in the self-declared state of Somaliland, which is due to take place on November 13.

This is Somaliland’s first presidential election since 2010 and the stakes are high. Three candidates – Faysal Ali Warabe of UCID party, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi of Waddani party and Muse Bihi Abdi, of the ruling Kulmiye party – are vying to replace Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Silanyo”, the current head of state.

The contest was delayed for more than two years due to voter registration issues, lack of funding and a devastating drought.

Read full article

Somaliland’s three presidential candidates have concluded their campaigns ahead of Monday’s poll to elect the next leader of the breakaway region.

Muse Bihi of the ruling Kulmiye party, Faisal Ali Waraabe of the For Justice and Development party (UCID) and Abdirahman Mohamed Abdillahi of the Wadani party held their final rallies this week in the capital, Hargeisa.

A central issue, as always, is how to win international recognition for Somaliland. Somalia, which was once governed by Italy, wants Somaliland to be part of a single Somali state. But Somaliland, which used to be a British colony and broke away from the rest of Somalia in 1991, wants to be a separate country.

All three candidates favor a fully independent Somaliland but have different visions of how to achieve it.

“Previous talks were not fruitful and they were heading to the wrong direction,” Bihi told VOA. He proposes bringing in “proper and genuine mediators” to replace officials from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Waraabe wants the negotiations to come after what he terms as a genuine reconciliation among Somali tribes.

“Somalis have never reconciled among themselves; therefore, we want to hold a bottom-up approach reconciliation meeting here,” he said. “Once they agree and come up with a shape of a government similar to that of 1960, when we united, we can talk and debate on the possibility of two parallel brotherly states, which I think is the interest for the future of our people.”

Abdillahi of the Wadani party wants new rounds of talks with Somalia, but at a bigger venue and with international mediation.

“Principally, we want to solve our differences with Somalia through peaceful negations, review the previous talks and challenges, and finally come up with new rounds of talks, with our final vision being getting a result that makes us two neighbor states,” he said.

Social media ban

Preparations for election day are under way. Public and private schools across Somaliland have been closed for eight days because most of them will serve as polling places. Also, Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission said social media networks would be shut down on Monday to avoid the spread of misinformation on the election results.

“To avoid social media users who propagate hate speeches and fake news during the election or about the results, we have decided to ban the use of social media platforms for the betterment of Somaliland security,” said electoral commission spokesman Sa’id Ali Muse.

Muse said 705,000 Somalilanders are eligible to cast ballots.

History of elections

A 176,000-square-kilometer, semidesert territory on the coast of the Gulf of Aden with an estimated 4 million people, Somaliland has a long history of peaceful elections and executive turnover, made possible by a blend of traditional and modern state institutions and a relative peace it has been enjoying since 1991.

In contrast, Somalia has been racked by decades of protracted lawlessness, poor governance and deadly terror attacks.

In 2010, Somaliland saw a peaceful transfer of power when then-President Dahir Rayale Kahin conceded defeat to Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, nicknamed Silanyo. He opted not to seek re-election in the current contest.

Unlike the previous elections, this election has suffered several delays. It was scheduled at one time for last March, but drought coupled with political disagreement among the parties caused the vote to be rescheduled.