Somalia / by Alistair Galloway

The United States of America plans to pursue deeper military involvement in Somalia to fight the threat of Al- Shabaab in the region. The country plans to provide greater assistance to national forces, as well as launch more air strikes on the terrorist group’s camps. It has also sponsored military exercises for the Somali National Army to better equip it to deal with security threats, especially after troops of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) start withdrawing from next year. AMISOM troops have also taken measures to proliferate action against Al-Shabaab. A recent attack by AU troops and local forces killed 57 militants, while Kenyan military jets carried out overnight strikes on Al-Shabaab camps in the Gedo region of the country. However, Al-Shabaab still remains one of the greatest political threats in the country as it has claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack near the presidential palace. The group does not support Western involvement in Somalia, and has warned of further attacks. At least 7 people have been killed in car bomb blasts near the president’s residence. The leaders of several African countries including Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia met with the Somali president to discuss refugee repatriation. The Dadaab camp in Kenya is the largest refugee camp in the region and is home to thousands of Somali refugees. Kenyatta, the president of Kenya stated that refugee camps cannot be a permanent home and stated that the country will remain firm on their decision to close the camp and return Somalis to Somalia. Somalia is also victim to internal political instability: the Galmudug state is looking to elect a new president for the state government after President Guled resigned, citing health reasons. The Puntland army has also protested against the Financial Minister, claiming that they have not been paid their salaries in over eight months. The president of Somalia has declared a national emergency in the face of worsening drought conditions. The World Health Organisation estimates that 6.2 million Somalis, over half of the country’s population are in need of urgent humanitarian aid. The famine has also caused an outbreak of cholera, with over 13,000 cases in this year alone. The government is looking to implement a vaccination campaign to prevent and treat the threat. Local and international agencies have written a joint letter to the United Nations imploring it to ask member states to assist Somalia through its economic and political difficulties. Although aid has been provided, far more is required to avoid a famine such as the one Somalia experienced in 2011.