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Residents begin rebuilding their lives in Kismayu

Thursday, December 13, 2012

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Life is slowly returning to normal in the Somali port city of Kismayu as residents who fled the fighting between Al-Shabaab and allied forces led by the Kenya Defence Forces start flocking back.

The returnees, who had fled in their thousands to refugee camps in Kenya and other places, are now trying their hand at different economic activities.

In telephone interviews on Wednesday, a number of residents said they had started rebuilding their lives by engaging in fishing, small businesses and subsistence farming.

A Mr Jumale, a marine expert, said fishing around Kismayu, which has declined in the past decade, is yet to improve.

“It was at its worst when the fanatical Al-Shabaab took control of all economic activities four years ago,” he said.

Another resident, Mr Abdulkadir Mohamed, said farming is gradually picking up. “There is an increasing number of banana plantations along Juba River while fruit and vegetables are being delivered to the markets in large quantities,” he said.

Mr Mohamed said the livestock sector is expected to recover following rains in the area.

Investors trickle in

“The drought experienced in 2011 significantly reduced pastoralists’ herds but the long rains appear to be reversing the trend,” he said.

Other residents said they saw a brighter future as investors start to trickle in.

“We expect increased capital injection in 2013,” said a businesswomen who preferred anonymity for security reasons. She said Somalis in the diaspora were also expected invest in the region.

And with peace returning to Kismayu, the Somali National Army, backed by Amisom troops, have intensified attacks against the few remaining Al-Shabaab strongholds.

On Sunday, they took control of Jowhar, the provincial capital of Middle Shabelle, capturing the airport and nearby Burane and Mahaday.

Media reports said Al-Shabaab militants fled without putting up a fight.

The Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group has been weakened after its ouster from Kismayu.

It has been releasing videos on the Internet urging foreign jihadists from all over the world to come and join the fight in Somalia.

Analysts say Al-Shabaab’s focus on recruiting foreign fighters and its increasing use of the English language on social media shows the militant group’s shrinking influence in Somalia, according to online newspaper Sabahi.

“The media war on the Internet being waged by Al-Shabaab to recruit foreign fighters is a sign of the level of its desperation and failure to recruit Somalis from inside the country,” Mr Abdullahi Abdirahman, vice president of the Somali Media Centre in Mogadishu, told Sabahi.

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