Somali leader urges calm after clashes in disputed north

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed attends the East Africa's regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Special Summit on Somali refugees on March 25, 2017 in Nairobi. (AFP)
Updated 26 May 2018
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Somali leader urges calm after clashes in disputed north

  • Tensions in the unrecognized breakaway northern state of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland erupted into violence Thursday
  • The clashes erupted after a major storm brought strong winds and flash flooding to Puntland and Somaliland as well as other areas of the Horn of Africa nation

MOGADISHU: Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has urged troops from two rival provinces to halt their fire after heavy clashes in a disputed northern border region left several dead.
Tensions in the unrecognized breakaway northern state of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland erupted into violence Thursday around the border town of Tukaraq in Sool, a disputed desert region claimed by both sides.
“I want to send a plea to the Somalis who are shedding blood in Tukaraq town: I call for an urgent cessation of fire and an end to the bloodshed,” said the president at a mosque on Friday.
Both sides blamed the other for starting the violence without confirming any casualties, although one local elder said troops from both camps had been killed.
“More than 20 soldiers from the two sides died in the clashes and many more were wounded,” Mohamed Hajji Jama told AFP on Friday.
“There is still military tension.”
“The situation is calm now and both forces from the two regions are in their original positions,” said Abdirahman Osman, an elder in another nearby village.
The clashes erupted after a major storm brought strong winds and flash flooding to Puntland and Somaliland as well as other areas of the Horn of Africa nation, killing at least 21 people, figures provided by the UN’s OCHA humanitarian arm show.
Fighting had also broken out just before the storm, on May 15, in what local elders said were the heaviest clashes in months, saying unconfirmed reports put the death toll at nearly 30 dead.
According to OCHA, the UN’s humanitarian arm, the bloodshed forced around 10,000 people out of their homes, most of them women and children, and “further (complicated) an already complex humanitarian picture.”


Germany to discuss lifting ban on deporting Syrians

Updated 17 November 2018
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Germany to discuss lifting ban on deporting Syrians

  • Interior minister expected to discuss issue in meeting at end of November
  • Anti-immigrant parties have been demanding changes in deportation policy

DUBAI: In a sign that Germany's conservative political parties may tighten immigration rules, the government has said it is considering whether to allow the deportation of some Syrian asylum seekers back to their home country.

The interior ministry said on Friday it is examining whether Syrian refugees who commit crimes or support terror organizations should be deported back to Syria, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Such deportations are currently banned.

Germany is currently governed by a coalition of three parties - the conservative CDU/CSU and the SPD.

Horst Seehofer, Germany's interior minister, and his counterparts in Germany's 16 states are set to discuss how to deal with refugees who commit crimes at a meeting at the end of November, the Wall Street Journal report said.

Among the issues to be addressed will be whether to end or extend the deportation ban for Syrians after it expires at the end of December.

"If the security situation permits, it should be possible to deport (to Syria) criminals or people who pose a terror-related risk," Roland Woller, interior minister of Saxony state, told a group of regional dailies on Friday.

Woller's statement came after a similar argument by Joachim Herrmann, his counterpart in Bavaria, in an interview this week, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Merkel, 64, announced late last month she will relinquish chairmanship of the conservative CDU next month, and will not run again for the country's top post in 2021, or any political office.

Merkel, who has led the CDU for 18 years and Germany for 13, said her decision was aimed at giving her party the opportunity "to get ready for the time after me".

Far-right politicians began demanding changes in the deportation policy since Merkel's announcement.

Most Syrians in Germany are treated as war refugees rather than victims of persecution, meaning that they get a renewable one-year visa and are not entitled to bring family members to Germany.

However, Syrians who choose to return home face daunting prospects: large expanses of the country have been reduced to rubble and the economy is a shambles.

Those considering gone home are also discouraged by reports of returnees being targeted by militias loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Since Germany allowed in 2015 hundreds of thousands of migrants to enter the country, most Syrians who have sought asylum in the country have been granted protection.

While Afghans, Iraqis and other refugees who commit serious crimes or become identified as terror suspects can be deported, Syrians who have not been granted asylum remain exempt, according to the Wall Street Journal report.

According to an explainer in the German news website DW, because non-Germans must have some kind of residency permit to be allowed to stay in Germany, refugees and asylum seekers are issued with temporary permits while their applications are being considered.

If they have had their asylum applications turned down, they no longer have the right to stay in Germany, and are obligated to leave the country by a set deadline (no longer than six months).

If that deadline has passed, they may be forcibly deported to their country of origin, the DW report says.

People whose residency permits have expired, or have not had it extended by authorities, are also subject to deportation. The same is true of non-Germans who have been convicted of a crime.

But there are different rules depending on the severity of the crime. anyone sentenced to at least three years in prison must be deported, but in the case of people who have been sentenced to less severe crimes, or are simply deemed a threat to public order and safety, the decision on whether to deport or not is up to the authority in question.