Showing posts with label Somalia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Somalia. Show all posts

August 1, 2017

In Germany An Asylum Seeker Most Go Thru The Most Embarrassing Questions-Necessary?

Somalian LGBT asylum seeker Khadar at his home near Frankfurt, Germany in July 2017. Photo courtesy of KhadarFRANKFURT (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After Khadar arrived in Germany from Somalia in December 2014, he waited nearly two years for his asylum interview - the appointment that would decide if he could stay in the country. 
Khadar, who is gay, left his hometown of Qoryoley in southern Somalia aged just 17 because his life was in danger, he said. Homosexuality is outlawed in Somalia, one of a handful of countries where consenting gay sex is punishable by death. 
"In Germany, I felt very anxious about what would happen to me," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Frankfurt. "I didn't know if I would be deported back to Somalia." 
When Khadar finally sat down to his interview in October 2016, his interpreter warned him, in Somali: "Don't say anything bad about Islam." 
Speaking at the headquarters of support group Rainbow Refugees, Khadar, "a proud Muslim", said the comment made him uncomfortable, as if he could not express himself openly. 
The 19-year-old is one of many LGBT asylum seekers in Germany who have complained about ignorant or intimidating comments made during their asylum interviews. 
During these interviews, asylum seekers must talk about why they came to Germany in front of a "decision maker", who asks the questions and an interpreter who helps with translation. 
While Germany's parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage in June and last weekend saw one of the world's biggest gay pride parades in Berlin, prejudice against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community persists. 
And as interpreters are often hired from refugee communities, they can reflect attitudes from asylum seekers' home countries – attitudes they came to Germany to escape. 
Rights groups blame the problem on a lack of basic training on LGBT rights for decision makers and interpreters. 
A spokesperson for Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BaMF) said by email: "The interpreters are not schooled in asylum related topics as their only task is it to translate word by word." 
But the Thomson Reuters Foundation spoke to several gay asylum seekers who felt uncomfortable discussing their sexuality in front of their interpreters. 
No Word for Gay 
In a Berlin café, Mahmoud Hassino, a journalist and activist from Syria, described his experience: "When I told (my interpreter) that I wanted to include homosexuality in my grounds for claiming asylum, he dropped his pen and walked out of the interview." 
Abdullah al-Busaidi, another activist from Oman now living in Saarbrücken, near the French border, discovered his interpreter did not know the word for "gay" in Arabic. 
If refugees are made to feel uncomfortable during their interview, they might withhold crucial information about their case – risking rejection and possible deportation, said Knud Wechterstein, founder of the charity Rainbow Refugees. 
"It is my opinion that the low qualification of interpreters is a reason for the high number of wrong decisions made by the BaMF," he said, adding that nearly half of his clients, 22 people in total, had received deportation orders. 
A report published in March by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights raised concerns about asylum interviews for LGBT applicants across the bloc. It suggested interpreters don't receive adequate training because they are hired as external contractors, not as government staff. 
"Intimate Questions" 
In the report, Germany was singled out for using "unlawful, intimate questions" to test if LGBT asylum seekers were telling the truth. 
This was the experience of Javid Nabiyev, an asylum seeker from Azerbaijan. 
"My asylum interview was just disgusting," says Nabiyev, founder of the organization Queer Refugees for Pride. 
Despite a 2014 decision by the European Court of Justice ruling that asylum seekers should not be questioned about their sexual activity, Nabiyev says he was asked intimate questions about his sex life, including about sexual positions. 
Cara Schwab, project manager at Plus Mannheim, who works with LGBT refugees in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, believes better training for all decision makers and interpreters is crucial. 
"With training, a person can become aware of their own stereotypes or even homophobia," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
Special representatives or "Sonderbeauftragte" who have been trained to deal with LGBT applicants do exist, but Schwab said she had never met one. "When we put in a request, we are usually ignored," she said. 
The federal migration and refugees office, BaMF, said there were 321 special interviewers in Germany, but they are not available for every relevant asylum interview. 
"Unfortunately it is not always possible to enable an interview with one of these special decision makers, because it could, for example, result in a much later interview appointment," a spokesperson said. 
The availability of specially trained staff appears to vary around the country. 
Leipzig-based Queer Refugees Network said it found it easy to contact specially trained staff. "They're doing good work. They're sensitive, they listen. We're happy," project manager, Sabrina Latz, said by phone. 
Khadar, the Somali teenager, has now been granted refugee status. But he says it's important others like him are able to express themselves freely during their asylum interviews. "We want someone who doesn't judge us," he said. 
Reporting by Morgan Meaker; Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, resilience and climate change. Visit

January 10, 2017

In Somalia Teen Accused of Being Gay is Stoned to Death, again

Kangaroo trial in 2014 in which a somali teen is sentenced to be stoned to death for having gay sex

MOGADISHU- Somali Islamist group al Shabaab shot two men and a teenager in southern Somalia on Tuesday, saying one of the men and the 15-year-old had been seen having gay sex, while the other man was found guilty of spying, a senior al Shabaab official said.

Hundreds of civilians gathered in a field in the town of Buale to watch them being shot, the second time al Shabaab has killed men accused of homosexuality, the official said, without giving details of the previous killing.

Homosexuality and gay sex is outlawed in most of Africa’s 54 states and can be punishable by imprisonment.

“The judge read their charges publicly and the three men were found guilty. They were executed according to the Islamic sharia. They were shot dead in Buale town,” Sheikh Mohamed Abu Abdalla, a regional governor for al Shabaab, told Reuters.

A Somali government official said any case of homosexuality in Muslim Somalia would be dealt with according to sharia law, although he did not specify what that would mean in practice.

Al Shabaab militants are fighting against Western-backed government forces in Mogadishu in a bid to impose its strict interpretation of Islamic, or sharia, law.

The al Shabaab governor said 20-year-old Isak Abshirow and 15-year-old Abdirizak Sheikh Ali were found committing a homosexual act by al Shabaab fighters.

Saeed Mohamed Ali was found guilty of spying for Ethiopian troops, who form part of an African force that has been fighting the militants.

The Islamist group once controlled the capital and much of Somalia but it lost control of Mogadishu in 2011 and has slowly been driven back into smaller pockets of territory since then.

 Feisal Omar

July 15, 2014

Where did the Somali Pirates go?


Do You like Pirates?  As kids we all saw the good side and on occasions the bad side of pirates but  overall pirates were easy to see as heroes because they were against that status quo, they were thieves but so were the governments of most naval countries. The Queen or the king would have the ships and navies built out of people’s taxes on everything. That money did not go for better housing, protection or better anything.The money went to keep company the other riches that were being accumulated thru war or taxes to make castles and built armies and more ships to fight more wars.

A few years ago all of a sudden the pirates came back. No different from the old fashioned text book pirates except for the small frigates, the look of the pirates and the primitive weapons and man power used to stop a billion dollar tanker dead on the water. In 2011 at the height of piracy, 237 attacks took place in the zone of the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea, and the northwest Indian Ocean. Some of them were boaters and sea tourist but the pirates figure if you have the money to have a good vessel to do this in these waters you have money. No matter you don’t have expensive but you still have the most important asset of all, human beings that can be traded for money from the families or home country.
Three years ago, Isse Yuluh’s pirate gang hijacked a yacht being sailed around the world by a Danish family with three teens. The Danes were eventually freed for a ransom of $3 million.
Imagine the pay off of these starving skinny men in getting millions of dollars a hit. The ships were not defended and all the pirates needed was a few guns and 3 or 4 men.

Most of us were shocked that this could be done, including the owners of these enormous ships. but the pirate game did not stop with the commercial shipping cargo but with anything that pass through this region but something is happened! It’s come to a sudden halt.  
Mr. Yuluh went to sea again. This time he returned to his beachfront base in northern Somalia with aLiberian-flagged oil tanker and an Emirate chemicals carrier, and their 48 crew members in tow. 

After 10 months of negotiations and a handover of $12 million, all were released.
But despite being one of Somalia’s most feared and wealthiest gang leaders, Yuluh announced in May that he had “renounced piracy” and would tell his “fellow comrades to leave this dirty business, too.”
 Yuluh is not the first and not the only pirate to quit. Mohamed Abdi Hassan, another notorious pirate nicknamed Afweyne, or “Big Mouth,” said earlier he was getting out of the game.
Things are changing in East Africa’s high-profile pirate business: A combination of greater force at sea and swifter justice on land means the bottom has fallen out of the kind of Somali piracy vividly depicted in “Captain Phillips,” the 2013 film about the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama.
I. So far in 2014, there have been seven attacks, all of which failed, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

The number of pirate hostages has also dropped, from 1,206 in 2011 to 38 today.
In June, 11 sailors from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, and India were freed after nearly four years, with little or no ransom paid.
“With a few very small exceptions, we’ve had two years now without any successful piracy attacks,” says Alan Cole, regional coordinator of the maritime crime program for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“What’s happened is that the odds of success for the pirates have dropped, and it’s become an increasingly hazardous business to be in,” Mr. Cole adds. “The chance of getting killed or captured is pretty high now, and watching so many men disappear off over the horizon and not coming back does suppress interest in this as a career path.”
To be sure, security analysts caution that the shipping industry has taken these favorable outcomes as a reason to reduce expensive antipiracy measures. For their part, the pirates say they are simply waiting for international vigilance to slacken, at which point they will come roaring back.


When a skiff carrying a handful of menacing armed men swung alongside the Maersk Alabama in 2009, piracy was the best job going for a young Somali.
That hijacking, in part because of the movie that followed, is the highest-profile such attack that is familiar to Americans. But it was only one of hundreds.
Somali pirate methods have been straightforward for much of the past decade: Gangs that gathered on land and shore were financed by faceless kingpins, mostly in Kenya or the United Arab Emirates. The gangs put to sea in “mother ships” stocked with many weeks’ worth of food, water, fuel, and weapons, towing litters of smaller skiffs behind them.

Once a potential target was sighted, often hundreds of miles from Somalia’s shores, the skiffs were launched and would speed to the slow-moving prize ahead. Until recently, most commercial ships were undefended and pirates could easily board them.
Then, the captured ships would be sailed to Somali waters to be followed by the first calls for ransom to owners or family. Everything captured was monetized – crew, cargo, and vessels. Hostages were mostly well treated and released without harm when an agreed-upon ransom was paid.
Typically, the pirate gang then lived large on land for a week or two off their spoils, then put to sea again. The pickings were rich. Dozens of large container vessels, cargo ships, and oil tankers representing a chunk of global trade pass each day through the Red Sea via the Suez Canal on journeys to and from Asia and Europe.

Firhan Ali, a pirate who now finds himself unemployed, can testify from personal experience that these were “the good days.”
He went to sea a dozen times, and was involved in five successful hijackings, including that of a Greek oil tanker he refuses to name. The Monitor talked with him by phone from the Somali town of Galkayo.
Today, Mr. Ali and his former comrades-in-arms say things are very different. “Life is pretty bad now,” Ali says. “What used to be my daily income is now my monthly income. It’s all about struggle to make ends meet. During the heydays, none of us expected such an inferior life could come back.”
What has changed: The world has fought back. Three coordinated international naval forces run anti piracy patrols off Somalia.

One is the US-led Combined Task Force 151, with navies from six nations. The second, Operation Atalanta of the European Union Naval Force, has a special mandate to protect aid shipments to Somalia. The third flotilla is NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield.
Across the three deployments, dozens of warships from more than 40 countries have been involved. Patrols can include vessels from otherwise antagonistic nations: South Korea and North Korea have taken part, as have Ukraine and Russia. At any one time, an average of 20 warships are at sea.
Changes have occurred on land, too. Most important, justice systems in Indian Ocean countries including Kenya and the Seychelles have been boosted so their courts can process suspected pirates and their prisons can host them while they serve their sentences.

In Somalia, the UNODC has coordinated international efforts to refurbish dilapidated prisons in the northern city of Hargeisa, capital of semiautonomous Somaliland, and in neighboring Puntland.
Today, 1,350 people convicted of connections to piracy off Somalia are in jail in 21 countries, according to the UNODC.
Yet by far the most successful tactic contributing to the drop in successful attacks has been sending commercial ships out to sea past Somalia with armed private security on board. [See related interview here.] 

Teams of three or four guards – usually former British, American, South African, or Russian military – join vessels for the few days that they will be in what is known as the “high-risk zone” off the Horn of Africa.
For most, the passage is routine. But if a suspicious skiff approaches, under new “best practices” that most firms follow, they have a series of protocols designed to thwart a hijacking. Some are simple. Captains increase speed, trying to accelerate away or churn up a wake that is tough for a small speedboat to navigate. Decks are festooned with razor wire or electric fences to deter boarding. Powerful sonic devices have been used to repel pirates with directed, unbearable noise.
If a skiff continues to advance, security guards first show their weapons, then fire warning shots, or as a very last resort, use lethal force.

“It’s just not worth their bother coming after a vessel with armed security, if they can peel away and go and find someone else without,” says Conrad Thorpe, chief executive officer of Salama Fikira, a Kenya-based maritime security company.
Ali, the jobless pirate, confirms that the combined effect of prosecutions, navies, and security is keeping him ashore. He has returned to his former job as a security guard in Galkayo.
“Because of frequent arrests of some of our top-notch guys, which disabled our coordination, hijackings have stopped,” he says. “Every attempt ended up losing men and money. In the end, it looked like we were flogging a dying horse, and that discouraged everybody. Even our investors have lost hope. Enemy warships are watching every corner of the sea, and many of our heroes are still in jails.”

Chillingly, though, Ali says he and his friends are not finished. “We are still eyeing the waters,” he says. “Chances will come. I’m very much in no doubt those good days will come back. It’s very hard for now, but after some coordination, we shall return, and we will be stronger.”
These are not fanciful boasts. Pottengal Mukundan, the International Maritime Bureau director, says the fact that there were still occasional attempted hijackings showed that “the threat of Somali piracy is still clearly evident.”

“There can therefore be no room for complacency as it will take only one successful Somali hijacking for the business model to return,” he says.
Signs are emerging that firms may be letting down their guard. Already, shipping firms are advising their captains to slow down through the high-risk zone, and to lop miles off their route by cutting closer to Somalia’s shores. Both will save money, and boost profits.
Mr. Cole of the UNODC agrees that no one can relax yet. He reckons that the essential preconditions to running a piracy business are many ships passing; people willing to pay ransoms; young men and money for boats, guns, and fuel; and a place where the police leave one alone, which is still the case despite huge efforts to reform Somalia’s security sector.

“All of that still exists in Somalia. It’s just that the odds have been stacked against [the pirates] at sea where they now have a good chance of being killed or captured,” Cole says.
“But if those odds change back again because private security backs out, or the navies back out, I can’t think of any reason why they would not come back again.”  
Adam Gonzalez 
internet various sources 

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