Category: News

Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea PDF

Following are some other highlights from the report:

AL SHABAAB FINANCES

Somali rebel group al Shabaab earns money from taxation and extortion; commerce, trade and contraband; diaspora support and external assistance, the report said.The UN Monitoring group conservatively estimates that al Shabaab generates $70-$100 million a year from duties at ports, taxes on goods and services, taxes in kind on domestic products, “jihad contributions” and extortion.Al Shabaab also earns millions of dollars a month trading charcoal, sugar and other contraband. The trade cycle is dominated by Somali businessmen in Gulf Cooperation Council countries, notably Dubai, the report said.”In a very real sense, al Shabaab is becoming a business: a network of mutually supportive interests in Somalia, Kenya, the Middle East, and even further afield. Even businessmen who are not ideologically aligned with al Shabaab have little incentive to see the Islamists displaced by a predatory and corrupt Transitional Federal Government,” the report said.

ETHIOPIA

Ethiopian troops entered Somalia in late 2006 to fight Islamist rebels holding the capital. Addis Ababa has supported the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia since it was established in 2004. It also supports authorities in Somaliland and Puntland, all eligible for help under UN resolutions.The report states that Ethiopia also supports the sufi militia Ahlu Sunna, and while this is a group that could be considered eligible for assistance, Addis Ababa has never sought authorization from the Security Council to do so.The Monitoring group also said that Ethiopian troops have frequently crossed into Somalia to help government troops and pro-government militias fight al Shabaab. In March, Ethiopian troops set up a base with Ahlu Sunna fighters inside Somalia.

“Whereas Ethiopian support for Somali security sector institutions should be addressed as a compliance issue within the context of Security Council resolution 1772 (2007), the presence of Ethiopian military forces on Somali soil constitutes a violation of the general and complete arms embargo on Somalia.

AMISOM WEAPONS

The report includes evidence that weapons and ammunition supplied to the African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu, known as AMISOM, are sold on the capital’s main Bakara Market, which is in an area controlled by al Shabaab.”Diversion of arms and ammunition from the Transitional Federal Government and its affiliated militias has been another significant source of supply to arms dealers in Mogadishu, and by extension to al Shabaab,” the report said.”Of the 11 varieties of ammunition observed in Bakara market, 8 bore the same lot number as those found in AMISOM ammunition stocks. Moreover, among the six varieties of ammunition seized from Al-Shabaab, four were of the same lot number as AMISOM ammunition.”The study of the weapons was carried out between January and April 2011.

ONLF/ERITREA

The report states that a group of fighters from the Ethiopian rebel group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), captured in Ethiopia in September 2010 had weapons originally supplied to Eritrea by Bulgaria.Rocket-propelled grenades seized by the Ethiopian authorities were assembled in Bulgaria in 1990-1991. Bulgaria confirmed they were part of a consignment sent from Port Bourgas, Bulgaria, to Eritrea in March 1999. The end user certificate is included in the report.UN investigators questioned the captured ONLF fighters. The ONLF rebels said they had been trained in Eritrea and deployed to Ethiopia via Somaliland.

SARACEN INTERNATIONAL

A Lebanese-registered company called Saracen International has significantly violated a U.N. arms embargo on Somalia and represents a threat to peace and stability in the country, the UN report concludes.Between May 2010 and February 2011 Saracen provided military training and equipment and deployed armed, foreign security personnel on Somali territory. The report includes pictures of a Saracen base, vehicles and personnel in Bosasso, the main city in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.”The most egregious violations of the arms embargo during the Monitoring Group’s current mandate were committed by the Hong Kong-registered company Southern Ace, and by the Lebanese-registered company Saracen International, together with affiliated companies registered in South Africa, Australia and Uganda,” the report said.”Saracen’s presence has increased tension in north-eastern Somalia because its operations are perceived as a military threat by Puntland’s neighbors, as well as by some parts of the Puntland population.

Full report: http://www.scribd.com/doc/61447283/July-Report-of-the-Monitoring-Group-on-Somalia-and-Eritrea-PDF

Kenya Shilling Back On The Ropes

Kenya’s shilling is likely to fall against the dollar, and may even hit a new record low, after the central bank’s surprise decision this week to keep its main interest rate on hold at 6.25 percent despite galloping inflation.The import of more than 230,000 tonnes of maize at a cost of more than $100 million to ward off the worst effects of a food crisis in east Africa’s largest economy will also put pressure on the currency, traders said.”At the moment, all signs are that the shilling is on a downward trend against the dollar. We expect it to continue depreciating,” Solomon Alubala, head of trading at Co-operative Bank, said.At 1200 GMT, the shilling traded at 90.80/91.10 against the dollar, weaker than last Thursday’s close of 89.95/90.05 and closing in on a record low of 91.90 plumbed on June 22.

Even though it expressed concerned about inflationary pressures, the central bank said on Wednesday it considered any further tightening of monetary policy counter-productive.”If you do maintain a low interest rate regime, then you would expect depreciation of the currency,” Alubala said. “For now I think we’ll look to 92.1. It will attempt to touch the year’s highs,” Alubala said.The end of the month typically sees elevated dollar demand, putting further pressure on the currency.The only respite might come from revenues from tourism, which is now at peak-season, although early bookings mean some of those flows may already have been accounted for.

“We expect some compensation from the tourism sector so I really don’t see a weaker or strengthening shilling. I see it in a range of 90.30/91.30,” said Kennedy Butiko, deputy head of treasury.

U.S Drunken Driving Deportations Way Up

Huge increases in deportations of people after they were arrested for breaking traffic or immigration laws or driving drunk helped the Obama administration set a record last year for the number of criminal immigrants forced to leave the country, documents show. The U.S. deported nearly 393,000 people in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, half of whom were considered criminals. Of those, 27,635 had been arrested for drunken driving, more than double the 10,851 deported after drunken driving arrests in 2008, the last full year of the Bush administration, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data provided.

An additional 13,028 were deported last year after being arrested on less serious traffic law violations, nearly three times the 4,527 traffic offenders deported two years earlier, according to the data. The spike in the numbers of people deported for traffic offenses as well as a 78 percent increase in people deported for immigration-related offenses renewed skepticism about the administration’s claims that it is focusing on the most dangerous criminals.President Barack Obama regularly says his administration is enforcing immigration laws more wisely than his predecessor by focusing on arresting the “worst of the worst.” He promised in his 2008 presidential campaign to focus immigration enforcement on dangerous criminals.

As recently as May 10, Obama said in a speech in El Paso, Texas, that his administration was focused on violent offenders and not families or “folks who are looking to scrape together an income.”Most of the criminal immigrants deported last year had committed drug-related crimes. They totaled 45,003, compared with 36,053 in 2008. Drug-related crime – described as the manufacture, distribution, possession or sale of drugs – has been the No. 1 crime among immigration for years. Drunken driving had the third highest total number of immigrants deported with that crime.

An illegal immigrant from Bolivia, Carlos Montano, is awaiting trial in Virginia on charges of involuntary manslaughter in a drunken driving accident that killed Benedictine nun Denise Mosier and injured two other nuns. The case fueled national debate over deportations of criminal immigrants because Montano had two previous drunken driving arrests, in 2007 and 2008. He was not held by ICE or deported after the arrests. An ICE report concluded that new federal immigration policies would have prevented Montano’s release. But the rise in traffic offenders in the deportation statistics and in some other categories worries immigration advocates, particularly because traffic stops are largely made by police, sheriff’s deputies and state highway patrol officers. Local law enforcement has become more involved in immigration enforcement because of new programs that encourage it.Officers “are using their new authority to remove as many unauthorized people from their jurisdictions as they can, and that frequently means going after traffic violators instead of serious criminals,” said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at New York University Law School.

The institute is a Washington-based think tank on migration.Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano noted that most people in the United States are arrested for misdemeanor offenses. But she told the AP that the percentage of felons deported will change over time.” The more serious offenders are still in prison,” she said in an interview Thursday. “We’re not going to see them reflected in the numbers until we can begin to remove them.” The issue is one Obama is trying to carefully navigate in his bid for a second term as he relies on the record deportations numbers to bolster his tough-on-enforcement stance while trying to convince immigrant and Latino voters he deserves more time to get a comprehensive immigration bill through Congress.

Marshall Fitz, immigration policy director at the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, said some of the people being counted as criminals have committed traffic violations that would usually draw a traffic ticket. But when the driver can’t produce a valid license, the officer pursues questions about immigration status.Illegal immigrants caught in traffic stops often are pressured into signing an agreement to leave the United States and to pay a fine or somehow acknowledge responsibility for the traffic offense and thereby end up in the statistics as criminals even though they never went to court, Fitz said. Kumar Kibble, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deputy of immigration, said in some cases people picked up on traffic offenses are found to have committed other crimes. But ICE attempts to categorize each deported immigrant in its statistics based on the worst crime in the person’s record. ICE says the statistics involve only people who have been convicted of a crime.Darrel Stephens, executive director of Major Cities Chiefs Association, an organization of sheriffs and police chiefs, said the data show ICE is deporting criminals.He noted that even though traffic offenses have more than doubled, they are just 7 percent of the total criminal deportations. Meanwhile, dangerous drugs and drunken driving deportations comprised 23 percent and 14 percent of the criminal deportations, respectively.

The drunken driving deportations are particularly important, he said. Fatal drunken driving accidents involving illegal immigrants often cause outrage in communities where they occur.”That’s a crime that people look at in a very serious way right now,” Stephens said.There are an estimated 11 million people in the country illegally, 7 million to 8 million of whom are believed to be adults.Kibble said the numbers show his agency’s system of giving priority for deportation to people who pose a public threat is working. Last year, 36,178 criminals were deported as a result of the Secure Communities program, now in place in more than 1,400 jurisdictions, up from 14 in 2008. It’s expected to be in more than 3,000 jurisdictions nationally by 2013.Secure Communities is the Homeland Security Department’s system of identifying immigrants for deportation through fingerprints taken by local officers when booking people on criminal charges. The local law enforcement agencies routinely send the prints to the FBI for criminal background checks. The FBI shares the fingerprints with Homeland Security to look for potentially deportable immigrants, who can be in the country illegally or legally.”The numbers are going in the right direction,” Kibble said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement: http://www.ice.gov

Facundo Cabral UNESCO Messenger of Peace

From the most humble of beginnings he came to inspire millions around the world through his songs, poems and 66 books. He walked 3,000 km at the age of nine to look for work to support his mother and six siblings after his father abandoned them. When he left his mother told him “This is the second, and last gift I can give you. The first was to give you life, and the second one, the liberty to live it.”

He wrote music that inspired millions. He met Mother Teresa and Jorge Luis Borges. He performed in over 165 countries in 8 different languages. His wife and one year-old daughter were killed in a plane crash in 1978. He was nearly blind and crippled, and a terminal cancer survivor as well. He once said: ‘Siempre le pregunto a Dios, ¿por qué a mí tanto me diste? Me diste miseria, hambre, felicidad, lucha, luces… vi todo. Sé que hay cáncer, sífilis y primavera, y buñuelos de manzana’ (I always ask God, why did you give me so much? You gave me misery, hunger, happiness, struggle, lights… I saw everything. I know there is cancer, syphillis, and Spring, and apple fritters.)

“Forgive me Lord but sometimes I get tired of being a citizen. The city tires me, the offices, my family and the economy. Forgive me Lord, I am tired of this hell, this mediocre market where everyone has a price. Forgive me Lord but I will go with you through your mountains, your seas, and your rivers. Forgive me Lord but sometimes I think you have something better than this for me. Forgive me Lord, I don’t want to be a citizen, I want to be a man, Lord, like you created me.”

He was shot and killed  today during a tour in Guatemala City

Facundo Cabral (May 22, 1937- July 9, 2011) ”I’m not from here, nor am I from there”