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IRIN - Somalia





 



Ethnic violence displaces hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 11:16:32 +0000

Lifting her robe the young woman revealed undulating scar tissue blanketing her breasts, stomach, and extending up her neck and along her arms. “They poured petrol over me then lit it,” said 28-year-old Husaida Mohammed. “They were Somali boys.” When IRIN met Mohammed she was in a camp of about 3,500 displaced Oromo people on the outskirts of Harar, the ancient walled city in Ethiopia’s Harari Region. It had taken her over a month to make the 100-kilometre journey to safety from Jijiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s far eastern Somali Region. For weeks she lay hidden in an empty Oromo-owned house tended to by friends as she recovered from her injuries. Next to her in the large warehouse being used to shelter the displaced was a woman in a striking pink robe. She had no visible injuries but didn’t utter a word. “She was throttled so badly they damaged her vocal chords,” a doctor explained. “She can’t eat anything, only drink fluids.” Tit-for-tat ethnic violence in Ethiopia’s two largest regions of Oromia and Somali began in September and has forced hundreds of thousands from their homes. Local media have reported upwards of 200,000 displaced, humanitarian workers at the camps talk of 400,000.  Chronology  The unrest began when two Oromo officials were reportedly killed on the border between the two territories, allegedly by Somali Region police.  On 12 September, protests by Oromo in the town of Aweday, between Harar and the city of Dire Dawa, led to rioting that left 18 dead. The majority were Somali khat traders, a mildly narcotic leaf widely chewed. Somalis who fled Aweday said the number of dead was closer to 40. In response to Aweday, the Somali Regional government began evicting Oromo from Jigjiga and the region. Officials say this was for the Oromo’s own safety, and that no Oromo died as a result of ethnic violence in the region – a claim disputed by those displaced. In addition to the camps around Harar and Dire Dawa – cities viewed as neutral safe havens – they have popped up elsewhere along the contentious regional border. In these camps Oromo and Somali tell equally convincing stories of ethnic violence. They accuse the regional special police – in the Somali Region known as the Liyu, and the Oromia version, referred to by Somalis as Liyu Hail – of being behind many of the attacks*. Both regional governments deny their police forces were involved. The federal government faces fierce accusations ranging from not doing enough, to deliberately turning a blind eye to the violence. The Oromo see this as punishment after their year of protests against the ruling party that led to a state of emergency. There has also been a legacy of distrust of the Somali Region in Addis Ababa. The perception is that among the population there is revanchist sympathy for the idea of a Greater Somalia. Another possibility is that the government simply has not had the capacity to effectively respond, so widespread has been the violence. Oromia and Somali share a 1,400-kilometre long border. The Oromo are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, numbering about 35 million, a factor Ethiopia’s other ethnic groups remain deeply conscious of – especially its 6.5 million Somalis. James Jeffrey/IRIN Victim of the violence History of strife and harmony Ethnic conflict along the common border and in the rural hinterland has long existed – with Oromo migration a particular source of friction. The ongoing drought, which has put pressure on pasture and resources, could be another. “As you move west of the regional border the land becomes higher with more water and pasture,” said the head of a humanitarian organisation who spoke on condition of anonymity over the sensitivity of the issues. “Where the regional border runs is very contentious – you’ll find different maps giving a different border,” he added. In 2004, a referendum to decide the fate of more than 420 kebeles around the border—Ethiopia’s smallest administrat[...]



US ramps up military strikes in Somalia

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 10:45:30 +0000

When Ali Osman Diblawe arrived in Bariire he was barefoot and winded. He had sprinted the 2.5 kilometres from his farm to the southern Somali town after hearing a barrage of gunfire tear through his small village soon after the early morning prayer. That was on 25 August. In the days prior, he and at least two others on the farm had seen what they thought was an odd-looking black bird in the sky. “There was something small and dark that was flying high over the town in the morning when we went to our farms and in the evening when we came home,” Diblawe told IRIN over a phone. “It was far away, but I thought that’s a drone, that looks like a drone.” Anxious, he approached the local Somali National Army commander to voice his concerns over what he suspected was US surveillance of the village. He explained that although the farmers had small arms – as many do in rural Somalia, where there are ongoing clan conflicts – they were not members of the jihadist group al-Shabab. He returned to his village on 24 August hoping he had been listened to. The next morning the shooting started and Diblawe ran. When he plucked up the courage to return home he saw the bodies of 10 of his neighbours sprawled on the ground. Standing over them were the SNA soldiers who had killed them, and the handful of US Special Operators who had orchestrated the operation. Diblawe’s warning had fallen on deaf ears. Local media first misreported the incident as a US drone strike. They later clarified that the 10 people had been killed in a joint US-Somali ground operation – confirmed in a statement issued by the US Africa Command, known as AFRICOM. The raid came six months after President Donald Trump had loosened regulations restricting operations in Somalia, and five months after the first US soldier was killed in the country since the infamous Black Hawk Down incident in 1993. The Bariire raid exemplifies what has been a gradual ramping-up of US military activity in Somalia over the last three years, one in which drones – both armed and for surveillance – have played a central role. This includes the first air strike against so-called Islamic State in Somalia on 3 November.  According to an AFRICOM statement, the drone attack killed “several terrorists” near Qandala, a small port town in northeastern Puntland that IS briefly occupied late last year. “In 2011 there were four or five maybe six [air] strikes and US ground operations, and that trend continued up until 2015,” said Jack Serle, a specialist investigator with the Bureau for Investigative Journalism’s drone warfare team. “But in 2015 the pace of strikes really accelerated and we’re now tracking at least 20 airstrikes and ground operations this year, which is the highest we’ve ever recorded.” Christina Goldbaum/IRIN Somali soldier with Ugandan AMISOM troops Relaxed rules of engagement In March, the Trump administration designated parts of southern Somalia an “area of active hostilities”, a move which gives commanders in the field greater autonomy over the use of force. Prior to the policy change, US forces in Somalia had been operating under the more restrictive Barrack Obama-era guidelines known as the Presidential Policy Guidance. Implemented in May 2013 in an effort to reduce the number of civilian casualties in counter-terrorism operations, the guidelines require high-level deliberations among cabinet officials to confirm that targets outside of traditional war zones pose a threat to Americans, and that there is near certainty no civilians will be killed. The undoing of these regulations came after significant lobbying from the Pentagon and General Thomas Waldhauser, the AFRICOM commander. Yet in the initial three months after the new policy was implemented, there was no change in the number of strikes: there was one strike in April, one in May, and one in June. But then in July something changed: there were five strikes that month, four in August,[...]



Shock and revulsion over Mogadishu bombing

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:04:18 +0000

The bomb was as enormous as the flecks of torn skin smudging the ground are miniscule. Entire overcrowded buses were blown up, every passenger killed. No one in the vicinity was spared: shopkeepers at the side of the road selling khat; office managers; children fooling around or running errands for parents; a medical student about to graduate; mothers; fathers; sisters; brothers.    At approximately 3:30 on Saturday afternoon, a truck bomb was detonated in the middle of the traffic in Mogadishu's Hodan district, next to the landmark Safari hotel, frequented by politicians and other Somali movers and shakers.       Later in the day, a second explosion was reported in the city's Madina district.   When the Hodan bomb went off, near the busy K5 roundabout, Somalis on social media reported it as the loudest explosion they'd ever heard – a feat in itself in a city that's been used to violence for more than two decades.    The bodycount started in the dozens, but soon started to climb, hitting 85, then more than 100. Now the death toll is officially up to 276 people.   It is expected to reach more than 300, said Mohamed Moalim, permanent secretary in the government’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management. Hundreds more have been injured.   "We still have a number of bodies not identified, hundreds of families wanting to identify loved ones, but it’s happening slowly because of the size of the situation,” he told IRIN via Skype. Many of the bodies are charred beyond recognition.    "When you see the area and location, you will [understand the extent of the damage]," said Farah Bashir, managing director of Galayr Consultancy, referring to the bustling commercial district, with many shops, hotels, and businesses.   He wasn't at the office when the explosion happened, but he heard the blast and arrived to find complete destruction, with shattered buildings and people trapped under rubble.   "The blood of the victims, burned pieces of human bodies,” said Bashir. “No doors, windows, curtains, walls – all [destoyed] and demolished.”   The city’s two largest hospitals, Medina and Turkish-supported Digfer, are entirely overwhelmed. There aren't nearly enough doctors and nurses to tend to everyone. Medical students are volunteering, but supplies are low.   "We need food, water, emergency equipment, beds, sheets, antibiotics," said Moalim. The UN and international NGOs are mobilising, but none were immediately on the ground, he noted.   African Union troops, known as AMISOM, have been providing security and services in the clean-up, and the Turkish government is sending ambulance planes expected to land today. Hassan Istiila/IRIN Aftermath of the bombing   Al-Shabab on the march?   As of yet, no group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but it bears all the hallmarks of the jihadist group al-Shabab, at war with successive governments and their international backers since 2006.   They have staged repeated attacks in Mogadishu, but nothing close to the scale of Saturday’s carnage. Previously the worst attack was in June when 30 people died in the bombing of a popular pizza restaurant.   “They won’t claim responsibility because of the massive civilian deaths, but this was definitely an al-Shabab operation,” said Rashid Abdi, Horn of Africa director at the International Crisis Group.   “Why they’ve done it is because they had the opportunity to do it,” he told IRIN.   The security forces have suffered a series of setbacks over the last few months. They have withdrawn from the key Lower Shabelle region as a result of al-Shabab attacks, and there are rising tensions and low morale within the fledgling Somali National Army.   Last week, defense minister Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed and army chief General Mohamed Ahmed Jimale both submitted their resignations amid reports of rivalry between the two men.   The Somali army is being r[...]



Six major humanitarian challenges confronting the UN General Assembly

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 09:15:00 +0000

Hype over what President Donald Trump may or may not say dominated the media build-up to this week’s UN General Assembly. However, US funding cuts and the apparent absence of American authority on key global issues weigh more heavily over world leaders beset by a host of daunting humanitarian challenges.   It’s the first UNGA since Trump was elected president. He’ll make his debut on Monday in hosting a meeting on UN reform, ahead of his maiden speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday. It’s also the first year at the helm for UN Secretary-General António Guterres. His speech opening high-level week on Tuesday will be closely watched, as will his handling of Trump’s US administration.   The US decision on the eve of the General Assembly to halve its diplomatic presence in New York doesn’t augur well for those concerned that US cuts and retreats from international agreements are creating a dangerous vacuum at a time when the General Assembly has so many global crises to address.   Here’s our guide to the major humanitarian issues:   Climate Change   The UNGA is always a vital forum for the world’s developing countries, particularly those facing down climate change. The new General Assembly president, Miroslav Lajcak of Slovenia, identified grappling with it a priority for the UN’s 72nd session. Catastrophic flooding in South Asia and two record-setting hurricanes that recently hit the Caribbean and the southern United States will lend added gravity to sessions this week.   A high-level meeting convened by Lajcak and Guterres on Monday will focus on Hurricane Irma, which ploughed through the Caribbean and into Florida earlier this month. The UN’s regional response plan for the Caribbean calls for $27 million to help up to 265,000 people affected. For the first time in 300 years, no one is left living on Barbuda, according to Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the US.   Notably absent from the expected speakers list are any Americans. Trump this year announced he would pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement, angering world leaders and giving an opening to countries like China to take more of a lead on the issue. After word leaked that the US might be changing its position once more, the White House confirmed on the eve of the UNGA that it still plans to renege unless drastic changes are made. On Tuesday, heads of state will meet for a roundtable on climate change. By then, a new hurricane, Maria, will be running over some of the same Caribbean islands hit by Irma, possibly reaching Hispaniola by the end of the week. NGOs hope that attention will rub off on the sustainable development goals more broadly, with warnings that countries are falling behind.   Famine   More than 20 million people in Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan, and northeastern Nigeria are still at risk of famine, and their lot will be the focus of aid agencies and diplomats. The UN’s just-released State of Food Security report warns that “the long-term declining trend in undernourishment seems to have come to a halt and may have reversed.”   Shortfalls in funding persist across the board, and the aid community will be applying further pressure on donors to follow through on their promises. The week’s main event on famine response and prevention is on Thursday. It will provide an opportunity for some new faces – recently appointed World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley and Mark Lowcock, the new top UN relief official – to set out their stall.   Yemen’s long humanitarian crisis, deepened by years of war, is now considered the world’s most dire: more than 20 million people are in need of assistance; seven million are severely food insecure; two million children are acutely malnourished; the worst cholera outbreak in memory has infected more than 660,000 people and claimed 2,100 lives. There’s no sign the warring parties are any closer to ending the civil war. On Monday, UN, EU and Gulf Cooperation Council r[...]



Somalia’s impossible fight against cholera

Tue, 01 Aug 2017 16:29:47 +0000

Ahmed Hussein’s perfectly white teeth seem too big for his mouth; his upper arms look like they belong to a little boy, not a 23-year-old man. Propped up on an iron bed, Hussein laughs and says he always was slim. But he is clearly malnourished. Hussein arrived at Mogadishu’s Bandir Hospital a day earlier with his mother and two sisters, all suffering from acute watery diarrhoea: a tell-tale sign of cholera. A nurse at the hospital told IRIN she believed the whole family got sick from the same water source.  This is Somalia’s worst cholera outbreak in five years. So far, 71,663 cases have been counted, including more than 1,098 deaths, according to Doctor Ghulam Popal, the World Health Organization representative. In July, when Hussein was admitted, 5,840 cases of acute watery diarrhoea were reported at Bandir Hospital alone. Cholera is an acute disease that can kill within hours if left untreated. Waterborne, it thrives in unsanitary conditions. After nearly three decades of continuous conflict, Somalia has a barely existent government with no public health system and 800,000 people driven into unsanitary settlements by drought and insecurity – perfect conditions for cholera to thrive. “[The] WASH infrastructure in Somalia is totally collapsed due to the absence of the government,” explained Hassan Ahmed Ali, a Water Sanitation and Hygiene expert with the Norwegian Refugee Council, a development agency. Unknown scale The extent of Somalia’s cholera crisis is likely to be a good deal worse than the official numbers suggest. There are no health clinics or hospitals for 400,000 displaced people clumped in settlements along the two main arterial roads that feed into Mogadishu. Ali of the NRC believes many people, not counted in the statistics, will have died before they could reach treatment. Neither are the cases counted in the swathe of territory controlled by the jihadist group al-Shabab, which is battling the government. Compounding the effects of the war, three consecutive seasons of drought have served to tip Somalia into an even deeper food crisis. More than 6.2 million people – over half the population – need aid. That vulnerability increases their susceptibility to cholera. Rules and regulations “Unless the systems are strengthened, we can only save lives. Long-term social well-being cannot be achieved,” said Mahboob Ahmed Bajwa, the head of WASH for the UN’s children’s agency, UNICEF. “Systems” refers both to the federal government’s loose relationship with the decentralised states, and the country’s generally pitiful infrastructure. National institutions are weak. In the absence of government, all water supply is privatised and unregulated. These profit-driven companies do not overly concern themselves with cleanliness or quality, despite the obvious risks. Doctor Lul Mohamed, head of paediatrics at Bandir Hospital, points to the problem of open defecation, and to the lack of controls that allows what toilets are available to be built right next to wells. The Ministry of Energy and Water Sources is creating new regulations to tackle contamination. But the bill has to go to parliament and will take at least three months to pass into law, according to Omar Shurie, an advisor to the ministry. Besides the infrastructural deficiencies, recruiting qualified health workers and paying them regularly is yet another of the seemingly endless tasks on Somalia’s to-do list. Doctor Mohamed, for example, does not receive a government salary. She earns money lecturing at a university in the city, only working at Bandir out of a sense of duty. Stronger response Despite the magnitude of the current food crisis and the cholera outbreak, the response of the humanitarian community and the generosity of the Somali diaspora have built a better ability to cope compared to previous disasters. “Aid works, and it is critical that we continue providing this support throughout the rem[...]



The Somali pirates are back (SPOILER ALERT: they never really left)

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 14:44:04 +0000

A pirate with a full beard makes an ironic salute as I walk towards him across the red gravel of the prison yard in Garowe, the capital of the Somali region of Puntland. His fellow prisoners turn away in disgust or yell curses at me through the bars. "We hate you. It's your fault that we are sitting here like animals in a cage. It’s humiliating that white men always come and take photos of us and repeat the same stupid questions," scoffs the pirates’ spokesman, Abdi Mahad. There are 47 ex-pirates locked up in Garowe, most of them serving decades-long sentences. According to the prison warden, only the lowest ranking pirates are doing time in the EU-funded facility, along with soldiers from the jihadist insurgent group al-Shabab, petty cattle thieves, and domestic abusers. This is what the flagship of Western engagement looks like up close: 47 luckless men behind bars on a rocky plateau in a country tested by drought and instability. But the fight against piracy has produced results. To protect the shipping lanes through the Gulf of Aden, the international powers sent warships and the EU trained the Somali coast guard. At piracy’s peak in 2010-13, more than 100 ships were being hijacked per year and millions of dollars paid in ransom. In 2015 and most of 2016 there were no successful hijackings. The EU's Operation Atalanta is still patrolling the Gulf of Aden alongside the Indian, Russian, and Chinese navies. But NATO's vessels left for other hot spots in December last year, and the pressure on the pirates has decreased considerably.  As a result, the attacks have begun again. At least five ships have been hijacked off the coast of Somalia this year, among them the oil tanker Aris 13 and a fishing vessel, which was transformed into a so-called mother ship from where new hijackings can be orchestrated. Piracy’s money capital Puntland, a rugged province at the tip of the Horn of Africa, is where piracy began; it’s also from here that several of the recent attacks have been launched. Puntland is an autonomous region, slightly better off than the rest of Somalia, but it still suffers from chronic poverty and insecurity. It is where so-called Islamic State has established a toehold, and is also a base for al-Shabab. Every week there are assassinations, ambushes, and suicide attacks.  Garowe, 200 kilometres from the coast, houses the region’s politicians and business elite. Lots of investment in the pirate industry has come from the wealthy in this city. The evidence is in the skyline: the unmistakable Holy Day hotel for example, shaped like the hull of a ship, is owned by a famous pirate who has now transformed it into apartments. In front of another of the city's hotels waits a 10-metre-long pink limousine. Ali Ahmed rents it out for $50 an hour and says there was a great demand for it during the heyday of piracy. Now it’s only in use a couple of times a month, mostly for weddings. One of the front wheels is flat. Garowe is a surprisingly cosmopolitan city. There are electricians from India, Pakistani construction workers, Kenyan chefs, Ugandan receptionists, tattooed South African security guards, and several Somalis who have returned from distant places like Stockholm, Melbourne, and Minnesota.  People walking in the streets are not armed. Money is still being laundered, but the criminals have become more discreet. The notorious arms dealer Gaagaale – "he who stutters" – no longer has a shed down by the roundabout. You can, however, still buy Makarov pistols from him for $1,600 or a Kalashnikov for $1,400 if you know someone who has his number. Apparently, my Danish-Somali guide does. Frederik Østerby/IRIN The pink limousine was in great demand in the heydays of piracy The criminal networks We drive to the Puntland Development Research Center, a respected NGO, to find out how the pirates have ma[...]



Displaced and neglected: Ethiopia's desperate drought victims

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 14:53:42 +0000

Dead camels rot on the outskirts of informal settlements in Ethiopia’s rain-starved Somali region as their owners, once proudly self-sufficient pastoralists, turn to government aid to stay alive. Ethiopia is facing a drought so terrible that nomadic herders, the hardiest of survivors, have been pushed to the brink. The lucky ones receive supplies of food and brackish water, but the majority, who have settled in spontaneous camps in the remotest reaches, must look after themselves. “We call this drought sima,” said 82-year-old Abdu Karim. “It means ‘everyone is affected’. Even when I was a child, no one spoke of a drought like this one.” Across the Horn of Africa, people are struggling after three successive years of failed rains. In Somalia and Yemen, there is real fear of famine. While Ethiopia’s remote southern region has been spared the warfare that has deepened the crisis confronting its neighbours, the drought has been no less brutal. “Having lost most of their livestock, they have also spent out the money they had in reserve to try to keep their last few animals alive,” said Charlie Mason, humanitarian director at Save the Children. “For those who have lost everything, all they can now do is go to a government assistance site for food and water.” Livestock are the backbone of the region’s economy. Pastoralists here are estimated to have lost in excess of $200 million-worth of cattle, sheep, goats, and camels. That is not only a blow to their wealth, but also deprives them of the meat and milk that is the mainstay of the pastoralist life-support system. Last year, more than 10 million people were affected by an El Niño-induced drought. The government spent an unprecedented $700 million, while the international community made up the rest of the $1.8 billion needed to meet their needs. This year, the appeal is for $948 million to help 5.6 million drought-affected people, mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the country. So far, only $23.7 million has been received. “Last year’s response by the government was pretty remarkable,” said World Vision’s Ethiopia director, Edward Brown. “We dodged a bullet. But now the funding gaps are larger on both sides. The UN’s ability is constrained as it looks for big donors – you’ve already got the US talking of slashing foreign aid.” Under strain The government has a well-established safety net programme managed by the World Bank that supports the chronically food insecure, typically with cash-for-work projects. But it doesn’t pick up those affected by sudden shocks like the current drought. They fall under a new and separate programme, which is struggling to register all those in need. There are 58 settlements for the internally displaced in the Somali region currently receiving government aid. But that’s only a fraction of the 222 sites containing nearly 400,000 displaced people identified in a survey by the International Organization for Migration. Forty-four percent of these camps reported no access to food, and only 31 percent had a water source within a 20-minute walk. "People were surviving from what they could forage to eat or sell but now there is nothing left,” said one senior aid worker who visited a settlement 70 kilometres east of the southern town of Dolo Ado, where 650 displaced pastoralist families weren’t receiving any aid at all. The only livestock left alive in the camp was one skinny cow, its rib cage undulating through its skin, and her new-born calf. In some shelters people were reported as too weak to move.  James Jeffrey/IRIN IDPs are falling through the cracks Informal settlements have sprung up wherever the exhausted pastoralists have stopped. The further away from the regional capital, Jijiga, the less likely they are to be supplied by the government. There is al[...]



We are not the world: Inside the “perfect storm” of famine

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 13:47:28 +0000

Like the four countries facing extreme hunger crises today, the famine that gripped Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985 struggled for attention until it was far too late. There was conflict. There had been years of consecutive drought – similar to Somalia now. The government spent its money on fighting, not aid. The rich world eventually reacted, with Bob Geldof and Live Aid at the forefront of a public funding campaign. But access in a time of war was hard. By 1984, 200,000 mostly starving Ethiopians had died, young children often the first to go. The final toll was closer to one million. More than three decades later, the stakes are arguably even higher. A badly strained humanitarian system finds itself facing not one but four vast challenges. In all, more than 20 million people are at risk of starvation and famine across South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and northeastern Nigeria. Much has been learnt since 1984: the value of building resilience before crises arrive, the role climate change plays, the imperative of early conflict prevention, the importance of cash aid, the need to prioritise water as well as food. Nonetheless, the goal posts for those struggling to reach the world’s most vulnerable and provide them with life-saving assistance have shifted. Why? The simple answer is conflict. It’s the one factor that afflicts all four famine-facing regions listed above. And that’s not to mention how the effects of war in places like Iraq and Syria, including the mass migration to Europe, have drained valuable humanitarian resources and donor dollars. As Nancy Lindborg, president of the US Institute of Peace, pointed out in testimony last week before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “humanitarian assistance flows have shifted from 80 percent of global aid going to victims of natural disasters to now 80 percent going to assist victims of violent conflict.” Unfortunately, Lindborg’s remarks may well have fallen on deaf ears: President Donald Trump’s administration is threatening draconian cuts to the State Department’s budget, affecting US funding for everything from UN peacekeeping to the United Nations Development Programme and UNICEF.   allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="260" id="datawrapper-chart-2KOBf" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//datawrapper.dwcdn.net/2KOBf/3/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"> Cutting and shrinking MINUSTAH – Haiti UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has recommended that the mission in Haiti be drawn down and replaced with a smaller UN presence by October of this year. That move is complicated both by disagreements over what the new presence would entail – or if there should be one at all – and the UN’s ongoing response to a cholera epidemic that its own peacekeepers introduced in 2011. A trust fund set up to finance the UN’s $400 million cholera response strategy currently contains just $2 million. MINUSTAH’s current mandate will expire in less than one month – on 15 April. Currently, there are nearly 5,000 uniformed personnel deployed, including 2,370 military and 2,601 police. An additional 1,245 civilian personnel are in the country, according to the Department of Peacekeeping. The mission’s budget is currently $345.9 million. UNOCI – Cote D’Ivoire In April 2016, the UN Security Council voted to close down UNOCI by June of this year, and lifted an arms embargo on the country, and travel bans. By 30 April, all uniformed and civilian personnel are to leave the country. The mission’s budget for the fiscal year ending June 2017 is $153 million. UNMIL – Liberia After more than 13 years, the UN’s mission in Liberia will close at the end of March. Its approved budget through this year was $187 milli[...]