KDF Builds Back Once War-Torn Communities In Regions Of Somalia

Locals from Somalia’s Hoosingo and its environs on Monday 11th 2018 received free medical services from the Kenya Defence Force troops. The medical camp put up at the town’s health centre comes days after rains subsided leaving the community at the risk of waterborne diseases. The residents who turned up in masses received treatment as some showed up for routine checkups.

The area was hit by a cholera scare prompting the KDF troops to move in swiftly to mitigate the situation. During the medical camp, three cases were confirmed positive for Cholera and the troops have put necessary measures to avoid any spread.

Ahmed Abdullahi a father of three was in tears as his three-year-old received treatment, he went ahead to narrate how his wife died during an Al Shabaab attack, Ahmed himself suffers from diabetes and also received treatment at the camp. He lauded the security personnel for providing moral support through counselling and availing follow up sessions, which he says have been very helpful since he lost his wife.

As part of building back the community that has been affected by Al Shabaab attacks in the past, KDF troops continue to engage with residents to ensure that normalcy returns to the area. In the spirit of Ramadan, the troops also donated assorted food items to the locals. In appreciation, area councilman Sheikh Noor Mohammed invited the troops to join the villagers during Iftar, (breaking the fast).

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KDF Commander Reveals Operations In Southern Somalia

 

Joakim Mwamburi, fourth brigade commander of Kenyan forces in Sector 2, southern Somalia answers questions on Kenya army’s war on Al Shabaab in Somalia

How far is this operation from victory and how will victory look like?

Victory will not be a one-off event. It will be seen when we hand over the security of the country to the SNA but still sleep soundly back home, knowing that Somali people are going on with their lives normally and all institutions of governance and the criminal justice system are functioning unhindered.

This is the reason we are not relenting in the fight until the threat, whether in Kenya or Somalia, is neutralised, and we bring this culture of violence that has been synonymous with Somalia to a lasting end.

What is the progress made so far?

We started under the code name Operation Linda Nchi on October 4, 2011. This was after constant al Shabaab interference in Kenya’s economy and affairs, including repeated grenade attacks, rampant piracy and kidnappings on the shores of Malindi and Lamu.

Operation Linda Nchi culminated in Operation Sledge Hammer, the capture of Kismayu, before the Kenyan army was absorbed into Amisom following a request by Africa nations through the AU. KDF then joined other countries to further pacify Sector 2, namely Burundi, Djibouti, Siera Leone and Uganda.

Gains so far include pacification of sector 2, clearance of main supply routes and degradation of Al Shabaab. Since 2014, we have been building the capacity of the Somali National Army (SNA) and mentoring them through joint patrols, ambushes, escorts and raids. We are also supporting the local administration by identifying and training them to fill gaps in the provision of security and social services, such as education and medical service. So we give the people, especially the children of Somalia, hope.

We have supported repatriation of refugees since 2014; over 79000 have been voluntarily repatriated in Somalia. In January and March this year, we have heard 3,199 refuges destined to lower Juba, Kismayu Afmadow and Baidoa.

We have intensified our civilian-military cooperation. All our Forward Operations Bases conduct free medical camps in areas they occupy and organise community sports tournaments.

How was Somalia’s national and social fabric before you came here, and how is the rebuilding taking shape?

Upon our entry here, there was nothing worth talking about. Today specifically, speaking about Jubaland, where sector 2 is operating, the institutions are now being built even though at a slow pace because of funding, and the revenue from markets isn’t sufficient. The region needs capacity building and more support for faster reconstruction.

Sector 2, which is under the KDF, is termed the toughest, and Jubaland is where the Shabaab head resides. How long will it take to degrade it fully and why do they find it easy to operate in this region?

This enemy doesn’t have boundaries. It moves from sector 2 to 3 and back. It thrives here because of the vast terrain, heavy vegetation and poor infrastructure, in terms of roads. Because of the canopy, even our aerial assets are at times unable to pick them out, but we will endeavour to deal with them.

Nevertheless, our war is intelligence-led. This gives us precision on attacks and raids getting to the core of al Shabaab. At the moment, we have degraded them. They can’t put up a fight. They now engage in asymmetrical warfare, using improvised mobile control explosives to launch attacks. They have been degraded to a level that they can’t face any force or put a fight, and most are defecting to join rehabilitation facilities and be integrated back into the society.

There are parts in Sector 2 where al Shabaab still enjoys local support. Why is this so and what are you doing about it?

Al Shabaab operates within the populations and sometimes has exploited ungoverned spaces in those areas. But our civilian-military relations engagements are key to changing that support. We pacify an area then develop it by providing necessary services to the population, rendering al Shabaab ideology irrelevant.

Is Kenya ready to move with the UN resolution and hand over security to SNA, so KDF can exit Somalia?

We are ready to exit Somalia anytime, but we need to build capacity of local forces to a level that we are sure SNA is ready to defend their country. In that, when we hand over the areas we are occupying, they are able to hold ground and not be pushed out the following day. We are ready to leave but with a caveat so the gains are not lost.

The SNA are upbeat in terms of recruitment and training, and we look forward to mentoring them so they are ready to take over by 2020. However, the October drawdown and the phase 2 that kicks in on January-June next year, we ask for its delay until the force they said will recruit 1,000 people in each region is ready to replace Amisom troops.

What will it take to rebuild a formidable SNA? 

Issues of clan cannot be wished away. This is where the hurdle lies. Therefore, it will start by integrating clans in terms of where they are coming from, as it won’t work if integration starts from a national level. The integration, however, should start right from the district level then to the regions. Those units then can be merged at the top to form a national army.

SOURCE: The Star

KDF Troops Participate In Community Building In Hoosingo, Somalia

A day after an unfortunate IED attack on an AMISOM convey, KDF troops participated in a Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) in Hoosingo Somalia South Eastern Lower Juba region of Somalia where the troops offered free medical care to residents amid heavy rains rocking most regions in the country.

With fears of disease breakout, among services offered was administering vaccines to the vulnerable residents who have reported mild signs of a possible cholera breakout. The trained KDF personnel were largely answering to dire need of medical care for the residents who lack proper facilitation and expertise.

Pregnant women and children were among those who benefited in the operation that saw over 100 patients attended to. Three women successfully delivered healthy babies and received maternal packages as health support for both the mother and child. Maternal care in this area is non-existence, as the residents have to take long walks or donkey rides to midwives who lack proper facilitation and expertise, which puts the women and infants at risk.

After the medical camp, the troops engaged with the youth in a friendly football match that was preceded with a de-radicalisation and counter terrorism training. The military-civil engagement in the area has been very instrumental in countering al shabaab and rehabilitating the youth in Hoosingo.

Local council elder Abdi Weli condemned the Sunday attack in Dhobley citing that the residents of Hoosingo will not allow Al shabaab to derail the progress that KDF has brought to the region, “Our boys are back to us, our wives and children are healthy and all this I thank KDF” said the elder.

AMISOM trains Somalia Police to enhance collaboration with the public

A one-week training to enhance communication skills of Somali Police officers has opened in the capital, Mogadishu. The training is meant to enhance relations between security officers and the public in a bid to fight violent extremism and insecurity in the country.

It is part of the transition plan, which will eventually see troops withdraw from the country. The plan requires AMISOM to prepare Somalia’s national security institutions to take over the country’s security once AMISOM’s mandate comes to an end.

The agreement also entails incorporating public members in security operations. Also in the agreement is to make deploy government militia in regions of Somalia to ensure seamless security operations across the country.

During the training, the participants will be taken through a range of topics including, among others, fostering relations between the police and the media; social media as a tool of information dissemination; public relations and media awareness and practice. 

Others are how to consolidate partnerships between the police and the community; drafting key messages and information dissemination and the role of public relations in conflict resolution.

 

Al Shabaab Blocks Flood Victims’ Aid In Somalia

In total, more than 427,000 people were affected in Somalia after above-average rainfall saw rivers burst their banks this month, More rain is predicted next week. “And worst is likely yet to come. With limited access to proper toilets and clean water, it’s a ticking time bomb for disease outbreaks like cholera and malaria,” said Victor Moses, country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

The Al shabaab terrorist group in Somalia have taken advantage of the crisis the Somali population is facing. The group who have terrorized citizens for years have resulted in blocking residents from receiving aid from humanitarian agencies.

Victims of the floods have revealed that some militants have gone to the rural areas warning locals not to go for food and medical supplies offered by the aid agencies or they will be killed. However, aid agencies with the help of security agencies are still on the ground despite such challenges.

Drought and conflict caused more than 1.3 million people in Somalia to flee their homes since last year.The country has been mired in conflict since 1991. The government is struggling to assert control over poor, rural areas under the Islamist militant group Al Shabaab, challenging the delivery of aid to the most needy.

54,000 people in settlements near the capital Mogadishu have been affected by flooding and main roads to Mogadishu are impassable, with large areas of crops damaged. Before the floods struck, an estimated 5.4 million people needed emergency aid, including food, water and shelter.

AMISOM Troops Rescue Flood Victims In Somalia

AMISOM troops in Somalia have reported thousands of evacuations of flood victims in Somalia. The troops that were among the first responders following the flash and river flooding in Hirshabelle, South West and Jubaland states as well as Banadir region have engaged necessary equipment on the ground as destruction of the heavy rains is evident.

The troops that include the Kenya Defense Forces have set up medical camps in designated areas to curb potential disease breakouts. With the help of the trained personnel, women have received aid while giving birth in the unbearable environment.

Doctors are also taking proactive measures by administering vaccines to victims in anticipation of hazardous diseases. The peacekeepers are also attending to children and elderly people both medically and psychologically.

As displaced families struggle with the situation, the troops in conjunction with other aid agencies are also transporting the victims to safe areas. Residents have hailed the forces for their responsiveness and provision of basic needs like food and clothing.
Residents of Belet Weyne are among the worst hit, after river Shabelle, which originates in Ethiopian Highlands, burst its banks leaving many homeless and without a source of livelihood.

Al Shabaab deaths

The ongoing flash floods have swept away the Al Shabaab camps leaving them with no operational bases. The little and diminishing resources they possessed was washed away as some of their fighters continue to perish following the floods.

Residents who were held captive by the Al Shabaab militia for forceful indoctrination were fortunate enough to be freed and they narrated horrid tales of what happens in those camps. A notable event is how the militia group murdered its own fighters.

The Al Shabaab leaders held captive of other militants claiming that letting them go would lead to a tip off of the group’s plans and whereabouts to security agencies. The security agencies are however on vigil to restrain militants from mingling with civilians during evacuation

Governments And Security Agencies Outgun Terrorist Groups Online

In hindsight, it is clear that Cyber caliphates around the world had managed to manoeuvre around the use of technology to spread violent extreme messages without leaving any trails.

When military offensives against terrorists destroyed tangible caliphates in most states and territories recovered from militia groups, the extremists set on a media jihad that did not necessarily need for physical convening.

Suddenly, the terrorists had re-defined ‘jihad’ as ISIL and Al Qaeda rapidly rose as one of the first terrorist groups to put up online presence. Misinformed ‘Fatwas’ were auctioned and groups across continents declared affiliation to terrorist groups and began building cyber caliphates.

However, in recent months, cyber warfare against violent extremists has been on the rise. Governments and security agencies in states fighting terrorism and violent extremism have promoted online vigilance in a quest to protect members of the public from extremists but have also largely invested in tools aiding in flagging down channels spreading extreme content and therefore being in a position to ban multiple channels across Social Media platforms.

Harakat Al Shabaab Mujahideen (HSM) is a perfect example of the diminishing online caliphates across the world. As governments in the region continue to pull effort in cyber warfare, the militia group has suffered losses in both online following and militants who have defected in droves across East Africa.

Having invested in 13 news websites and hundreds of social media accounts used to publish and distribute misinformation online, security agencies in conjunction with platform owners have either rendered these platforms useless through cyber warfare or the platforms have become completely inaccessible.

The arrest of online sympathisers has also played a big part in cutting off the militia groups from potential followers and even militants.

The result of combined cyber warfare and military operations is evident in Somalia as security agencies foil attacks and counter the Shabaab narrative. This has also led to rejection by religious leaders and institutions, clans and civilians as ability to attract youths continues to rapidly decline.

In states where flagging down of extreme messages has not been too successful, governments have gone ahead to ban the use of particular social media platforms generally. These have been platforms most preferred by terrorist and ‘safe havens’ for violent extremists.

Iran is the latest to do so after the  Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country’s government entities would no longer be using messaging app Telegram, and now, Iran’s judiciary has banned its use altogether.

With Internet providers also willingly working with government agencies in blocking online platforms, terrorists have been outgunned in the new day warfare.