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Somalia: Marking one year in Puntland, UN pledges state-building support

Gaaskaie3At a ceremony marking its first year in Puntland, the United Nations mission in Somalia yesterday pledged its continued support as the country looks ahead to beginning the process of federalism aimed at building a stronger, more united Somalia.
In Garowe, the State Capital of Puntland, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNISOM), Nicholas Kay said Puntland had made “important political, economic and security progress in the last year for which the Government and people deserve full credit.”
Mr. Kay, who is also the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, said however, that more remained to be done, including establishing a federal system of governance, working together with the Federal Government and other emerging states on reviewing the provisional Constitution, and preparing for elections in 2016.

My SMS relationship with al-Shabab BBC

sms_bbcAl-Shabab, the militant Islamist group operating in Somalia and Kenya, likes to communicate with journalists by SMS. But receiving their text messages and talking to them on the phone can be an unnerving, and at times surreal, experience.
The other morning I woke up to a text message and missed call from al-Shabab.
As always, the message was written in perfect English. It informed me about a film al-Shabab has made called Beyond the Shadows. It said the film gave an "accurate portrayal" of what happened when French commandoes last year tried - and failed - to rescue a suspected French intelligence agent held hostage by the group.
A few days later I got another call from al-Shabab. The clear, relaxed voice on the other end of the phone told me I was about to receive a text message about the group's role in the killing of a senior police official in Somalia earlier that day.
Sure enough, a few seconds later the text message arrived. Then came a second call to confirm I had indeed received the message.
This is the usual pattern. A call, a text message, then another call to check the message - or the SMS press release, as al-Shabab calls it - has arrived.

Khat: Drug ban going smoothly

qaadka_joojinKhat, a leaf which is chewed, became a class C drug in June.
People who campaigned for the ban said it was addictive and could cause health problems.
A Leicester police officer whose patch includes St Matthew's, which has a large Somali population, said the ban had gone smoothly.

‘Wartime’ Ebola outbreak now spreading faster

ebollaThe Ebola epidemic is moving faster than the authorities can handle and could take six months to bring under control, the medical charity MSF said on Friday.
The warning came a day after the World Health Organization said the scale of the epidemic had been vastly underestimated and that “extraordinary measures” were needed to contain the killer disease.
The U.N. health agency said the death toll from the worst outbreak of Ebola in four decades had now climbed to 1,069 in the four afflicted West African countries -- Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
“It is deteriorating faster, and moving faster, than we can respond to,” Joanne Liu, the chief of Doctors without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, told reporters in Geneva. She added that it could take six months to get the upper hand.

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