Tag Archives: Nairobi

As S. Sudan’s rainy season ends, more aid for the displaced – but more fighting

For the past six months, South Sudan’s rainy season brought misery to the nearly 2 million civilians displaced by the 10-month civil war. In crowded United Nations camps, tens of thousands lived ankle-deep in latrine overflow; and for those in the countryside, survival meant eating water lilies and drinking from rivers as the land transformed into marshy islands.

The rains are petering out, and should cease this month. But the change in weather hardly means respite: The end of the wet season means the start of the fighting season. Read more…

Photo: A rebel soldier patrols through a flooded area near the town of Bentiu, South Sudan on Sept. 20, 2014. Matthew Abbot/AP

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In Kenya, islanders on heritage site count cost of $25 billion mega-project

Lamu Island on Kenya’s northeast coast was established some 700 years ago as part of a thriving Indian Ocean trade network that eventually stretched to Oman, India, Portugal, and China.

The mixing of those cultures produced the Swahili people and language, as well as an Islamic renaissance of architecture, poetry, and cuisine.

Lamu is regarded as the best preserved Swahili settlement in existence. The history, the remote white beaches, the carved wooden doorways, and the winding alleys, all make it a top Kenya tourist destination.

But change is coming – more drastic than any in Lamu’s history – that could irreversibly transform this ancient place. Read more…

Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

Kenya’s President Kenyatta is summoned to world criminal court: Will he go?

Photo: Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York September 24, 2014. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A summons by the International Criminal Court to Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta is forcing a standoff between the symbol of international justice – and the prerogatives of a sitting president whose decision on compliance could damage his country’s foreign relations. Read more…

Nairobi ‘Saba Saba’ rally reveals sharp ethnic, political divides

Supporters of the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy or Cord attend a rally at Uhuru Park in Nairobi Monday July 7, 2014. Sayyid Azim/AP

A highly emotive rally of more than 10,000 people in Nairobi today capped a month of antigovernment protests led by longtime opposition figure Raila Odinga, who is calling for a “national dialogue” with President Uhuru Kenyatta as ethnic tensions reach a fever pitch.

The two political leaders were also on different sides in post-election violence in 2007 that led to a charge of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court at The Hague. That violence killed more than 1,000 people.

Kenya’s opposition today said it would pursue a national referendum to deal with deepening insecurity and economic woes that the Kenyatta government has struggled to solve.  Read more…

Welcome to Little Mogadishu

A Somalia refugee named Mohamed drinks tea outside an Eastleigh cafe at dusk. Jason Patinkin

Nicknamed ‘Little Mogadishu,’ Eastleigh is a refugee haven for Somalis, Ethiopians, and some dozen other African nationalities. In recent years it has also become a unique import-export commercial hub, one now in jeopardy as Kenya conducts crackdowns and deportations on foreigners to root-out tackle suspected Al Shabab radicals.

Picture slideshow.

How Kenya’s ‘war on terror’ is disrupting a thriving Nairobi district.

Somalis in Kenya face mistrust.

Somalis in Kenya face mistrust

 

A Nairobi police officer speaks with a Somali woman in Eastleigh during a crackdown on immigrants in the spring of 2014, following attacks in Kenya by the Somalia-based Al Shabab terror group. Jason Patinkin

One side effect of Kenya’s new war against the Somalia-based terror of Al Shabab is the new level of aggressive behavior against ethnic Somalis who are Kenyan citizens.

Somali-Kenyans make up a minority of 2.3 million people, or 6 percent of the Kenyan population, and they can boast that the current foreign minister and chief speaker of Kenya’s parliament are Somali.

Yet the group is also the target of rising fear and bias. Somalis have been pulled off buses, subjected to police checks, and crudely depicted in Kenyan news media in ways that hark back to ugly practices in the 1980s. Since April in its war on Al Shabab, Kenyan police have rounded up thousands of illegal immigrants and refugees from Somalia. But they’ve detained hundreds of Somali-Kenyans, too, despite claims that they don’t engage in ethnic profiling.  Read more…

How Kenya’s ‘war on terror’ disrupts a thriving Nairobi district

 

Shoppers stroll First Avenue in Eastleigh, a neighborhood in Nairobi, Kenya, also known as ‘Little Mogadishu’ because it is home to immigrants from Somalia. Jason Patinkin

Eastleigh, a mass of crowds and color in the heart of Kenya’s capital, is like no other neighborhood in Nairobi.

Nicknamed “Little Mogadishu,” it has bloomed in the past decade into one of East Africa’s most vibrant commercial centers, built mostly by refugees from Somalia who came here after that country collapsed in the 1990s.

While Eastleigh is jammed with refugees from the Horn of Africa, it is no Nairobi ghetto: Bulk imports of textiles, car parts, electronics, and veterinary supplies – often tax free – come here from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, and are sold to merchants who trek in from all over East and Central Africa.
Moreover, at the muezzin’s dusk call to prayer, people don’t retreat to homes behind razor-wire-topped walls, the way much of Nairobi’s population does each evening.

Instead, the place bustles. Eastleigh residents shop at night markets or sip camel-milk tea in sidewalk cafes, where one is more likely to hear Somali or Arabic than Swahili or English, Kenya’s national languages.

Yet in recent months, this sometime paradise for refugees has become hostile to outsiders. As Kenya cracks down on Al Shabab terrorists from Somalia following a devastating attack on the posh Nairobi Westgate mall last fall, Eastleigh residents are caught in the middle. Just as Little Mogadishu and its new glass-and-concrete high-rises are gaining a reputation as a story of progress and success, a cosmopolitan haven on the Horn, many refugees and immigrants are suddenly leaving.  Read more…