Somalia / by Michelle Ryan

New American president, Donald Trump, recently approved a Pentagon request to increase the aggression of U.S. airstrikes in Southern Somalia in order to more effectively combat the threat posed by militant group, Al-Shabaab. The areas will now be considered areas of active hostilities and war zone targeting rules will apply for 6 months. The USA is also sending in dozens of regular troops to train Somali National Army soldiers. The Somali president has also declared the country a war zone and has replaced intelligence and military officials and offered a 60-day amnesty deadline to Al-Shabaab fighters. In response to this increased aggression, Al-Shabaab has vowed to employ a “doubled response” and escalate terrorist activities even further. The United Arab Emirates has also increased its presence in Somalia by signing a contract to build a new port, as well as a military base in the country. In a visit to Somalia, the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister pledged 11,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the country. Turkish Airlines also carried in 65 tonnes of baby formula and medicine for malnourished infants suffering from the drought. The Somali Federal Parliament recently approved the newly elected cabinet, consisting of twenty-seven members. The United Nations representative in Somalia expressed the UN’s desire to work closely with the government, and AMISOM. The African Union hailed Ugandan involvement in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in a medal ceremony which marked the departure of its troops. Al-Shabaab has become increasingly active in Somalia: it kidnapped four World Health Organisation aid workers, and seized the town of El Bur after Ethiopian troops left. Furthermore, it also claimed responsibility of a suicide car bomb near the defence ministry. 13 people were killed in this attack. Kenyan AMISOM troops and Somali National Army troops have also made headway in the fight against Al-Shabaab. A prominent Al-Shabaab official was killed in Kuday, while the KDP claimed to have killed 52 fighters in an attack on a base in Lower Jubba. In recent weeks piracy has become more common once again. An Indian dhow carrying wheat and sugar was hijacked and taken to an undisclosed region. The ship has, since then, been recovered and the 8 abducted crew members have been rescued. Cholera has also been a concern in the country, with cases mounting to 18,000 in the last two years. Al-Shabaab has started an initiative to distribute food and water to regions under their control in order to win public support. Japan, and the EU have also provided millions of dollars in aid to fund reintegration programmes for displaced Somali refugees being repatriated from Kenya.