Why charcoal may endanger Somalia’s best hope for peace

TIME
Kismayo, Somalia

Kismayo charcoal
Somali youths pull donkey-drawn water carts past sacks of charcoal on the side of the road as the African Union Mission in Somalia soldiers make their way through the Somali city of Kismayo on Oct. 2, 2012 (Stuart Price/AFP/Getty Images)

On a Monday afternoon in October, in a warehouse in the southern Somali port of Kismayo, I attended a meeting on the future of Somalia. On one side: 20 Somali traders sitting on grass mats and wearing sandals, sarong-like wraps, short-sleeved shirts and embroidered scarves. On the other, in plastic chairs: officers from the Kenyan and Somali armies and the allied militia Ras Kamboni Brigades, who, fighting under the banner of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), ousted the al-Qaeda-allied al-Shabab from southern Somalia’s biggest city a few weeks earlier. Continue reading Why charcoal may endanger Somalia’s best hope for peace

In Congo conflict, there are no good guys

GlobalPost
Goma, DR Congo

Men in Red Cross bibs and surgical gloves collected the bodies over the weekend, lifting them onto already blood-stained stretchers, and carrying them to hastily dug graves.

Outside the eastern Congolese town of Sake, the gravediggers removed ID cards in the hope that whatever relatives the dead men might have would eventually be told of their son’s, or their brother’s, or their father’s death.

Continue reading In Congo conflict, there are no good guys

Misery of Congo’s refugees caught in a cycle of relentless violence

The Times of London
Sake, DR Congo

Congo's displaced
A displaced Congolese family stands at the top of a hill overlooking Sake and Lake Kivu (Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images)

The dead soldier lay on a dirt road cut into the steep hillside outside Sake, a bloody bullet hole in his neck. Empty ammunition crates lay abandoned nearby. In the town were other corpses, still wet with blood.

The battle on Thursday between government soldiers and M23 rebels was the first time that the army has fought back since being chased from Goma, the regional capital, two days earlier. Continue reading Misery of Congo’s refugees caught in a cycle of relentless violence

How a goat and a handshake could save Somalia

GlobalPost
Hargeisa, Somaliland

Mohamed Aden, 78, livestock trader in Hargeisa, Somaliland (Tristan McConnell)
Mohamed Aden, 78, livestock trader in Hargeisa, Somaliland (Tristan McConnell)

To the outsider, haggling for sheep in the livestock market here might look like an elaborate secret handshake. Two men lay a piece of cloth over their grasped hands and begin negotiating the price in silence, their eyes fixed on one another.

Sequences of squeezes, pinches and clasps of fingers, knuckles and hands — all hidden from public view under the cloth — indicate the buyer’s offer and the seller’s price. Deals worth hundreds or thousands of dollars are concluded quickly, often without exchanging cash. Payments are transferred between mobile phones.

Continue reading How a goat and a handshake could save Somalia