Saturday, March 21, 2015


Heidelberg West residents Nadia Yusuf and Luul Jimale are worried about the desperate plight of their families left behind in Somalia if they are without money. Picture: David Smith.
Heidelberg West residents Nadia Yusuf and Luul Jimale are worried about the desperate plight of their families left behind in Somalia if they are without money. Picture: David Smith.

BANYULE’S Somali community is on tenterhooks with only weeks until the last remittance accounts — the only thing helping their families in Africa survive — are closed for good.

Herald Sun — The deadline comes as a report on the imminent threat to Somali remittance lifelines, Hanging by a threadwas released by Oxfam, Global Center on Co-operative Security and the African humanitarian organisation Adeso.

So far there have been no long-term solutions to come from the remittance working group or the Federal Government despite Westpac, the last of the big four banks offering the service, announcing it would close its connections to Somali transfer agencies on March 31.

The Heidelberg Leader previously reported the bank advised the remittance operators at the Bell St Mall it would close their accounts for good at the end of the month after a Federal Court hearing in December.

The banks have scrapped this service because of changing international regulations.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Should the Australian Government intervene to allow Banyule’s Somali community to send money back to struggling families? Tell us in the comment section below.

There are about 10,000 Somalis in Australia sending money to their families in Africa.

Heidelberg West residents Nadia Yusuf and Luul Jimale are worried about the desperate plight of their families left behind in Somalia if they are without money.

Mrs Yusuf came to live in Australia in 1996 and has been sending about $300 a month back to her family living in a refugee camp.

“They rely on me,” Mrs Yusuf said.

“They have nothing else to survive.”

Mrs Yusuf said the situation in the camps was dire, with limited water and a serious lack of food.

“They use the money to buy whatever they need — food, medicine, clothes.”

Mrs Jimale came to Australia alone as a refugee in 1994.

She was separated from her young children and sisters, who were left in Nairobi.

Mrs Jimale said she sent money back and was eventually able to get her children out of Africa by sponsoring them.

Now many of her brothers and sisters are dead but she supports her siblings’ children by sending them money when she can.

World of Difference

■ $1.3 billion in remittances is sent to Somalia each year (via money transfer organisations such as Dahab Shiil), accounting for between 25 and 45 per cent of the fragile country’s gross domestic product.

■ Somalia receives only $715 million in humanitarian aid annually.

■ The money provides a lifeline for many Somalis, covering the cost of food, clothing, health, shelter, education and business.

■ The lack of money flowing through to Somali families will greatly affect women who are the primary caregivers in their families.

■ Remittances are often the only money women are able to access and control, making them a vital tool for women’s economic empowerment and rights.

The owners of Cleopatra's Lounge have been fined (Pic credit: Brent Council)

Brent & Kilburn Times

The owners of Cleopatra's Lounge have been fined (Pic credit: Brent Council)
The owners of Cleopatra’s Lounge have been fined (Pic credit: Brent Council)

Khadra Abdywahab Yusuf, 33, and Osama Abubakar Abdullah, also sold tobacco products without the statutory health warnings from Cleopatra Lounge in High Street, and failed to register their food business.

Willesden Magistrates Court heard the pair turned a blind eye to customers smoking shisha pipes inside the café despite Yusuf being convicted of doing so last year.

Environmental officers handed out fixed penalty notices to offending customers during their visit in May this year.

Yusuf and Abdullah were fined £2,000 each for allowing smoking in an enclosed area and a further £4,000 each for two offences of supplying tobacco products without the statutory health warnings.

Kudbale Ltd, the company behind the café, was fined £2,500 for each of the two offences of supplying tobacco products and £5,000 for failing to register their food business.

Cllr George Crane, lead member for environment at Brent Council said: “This is the second time within the space of a year that the owners of Cleopatra Lounge have been found breaching the law for numerous offences.

“Smoking in enclosed places damages the health of staff and non-smoking customers and supplying tobacco products without health warnings is irresponsible and illegal.”

The café, which is popular with member of the Somali community, was closed down by Brent Police in October following claims that customers were dealing drugs and embroiled in violent fights.

It is due to reopen on January 9.

(Source: Brent & Kilburn Times)

Australia Somalis - Bartamaha

Heidelberg Leader

Australia Somalis - Bartamaha

The financial institution is the last of the big four Australian banks to offer money transfer services to the remittance operators helping Somalis send cash to their families overseas.

The Leader previously reported the bank had advised Somali remittance operators at the Bell Street Mall they would close their accounts on Monday, November 24.

But Westpac spokesman Danny John said the bank consented to temporary orders made in the Federal Court in Sydney on Friday, November 21.

“These will be in place until a further hearing of the matter in court … (on Friday, November 28),” Mr Johns said.

About 10,000 Somalis across Australia — many living in Heidelberg West — will no longer be able to transfer money back to their families overseas once the bank shuts down accounts with remittance services.

Kensington elder Abdurahman Jama Osman, who sends $100 every month to 85-year-old sister Halima, said he was deeply worried about her future.

Australian Bankers’ Association chief executive Steve Münchenberg. Picture: Tim Carrafa
Australian Bankers’ Association chief executive Steve Münchenberg. Picture: Tim Carrafa

The tightening of global and Australian financial regulations around anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism has meant many banks are shutting off services to remittance operators because of security concerns.

Somali Remittance Action Group Chair Hussein Haraco — who is not part of the Federal Court action — was in a delegation that travelled to Canberra this week and submitted a 2500-signature petition seeking a solution.

Dr Haraco said the group met with the Attorney General’s department, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Austrac — Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulator and financial intelligence unit — about the remittance closures.

“Westpac is the last major Australian bank holding accounts of small money transfer operators who transfer remittances from communities in Australia back to family in developing nations such as Somalia,” Dr Haraco said.

“Somali money transfer operators have worked to fill the huge gap left by the lack of financial institutions in Somalia.

“In a country where over three million people do not have enough to eat, cutting off this vital lifeline without a viable alternative in place could be catastrophic.”

Dr Haraco said he believed the Federal Government agencies were committed to organising a meeting with the four major banks, Australian Bankers’ Association and money remitters.

An Attorney General’s department spokesman, who did not want to be named, said the Federal Government recognised remittances represented a major source of income for millions of people across the world.

“Somalia is particularly problematic as there are no banks … so they are entirely reliant on alternative remittance services provided from outside the formal banking system,” the spokesman said.

“The Government will continue to monitor the remittance sector to assess the scope and wider implications of bank account closures and will continue to consult with affected stakeholders as necessary.”

Australian Bankers’ Association chief executive Steve Münchenberg. Picture: Tim Carrafa
Australian Bankers’ Association chief executive Steven Münchenberg said banks had preliminary discussions with the Government.

“While it is clear there are no easy solutions, the banking industry remains committed to playing our part in trying to address the problems that have arisen from the growing international and domestic regulatory requirements, in particular around anti-money laundering and counter terrorism laws,” Mr Münchenberg said.

somali community in australia 2 - Bartamaha

ABC News Australia

somali community in australia 2 - Bartamaha

Australia’s Somali community is warning that the threat posed by terror groups in the African country could increase because of tough banking regulations that prevent them from sending money home.

Westpac is the last of the major banks facilitating money transfers between Australia and Somalia, but it will end the service later this month.

The move by Australian banks has been in response to tougher international banking regulations in regards to crime and terror funding.

But the crackdown leaves Australia’s 20,000-strong Somali community with no legal way to transfer money home.

Melbourne nurse Nasro Yussf warned this could make people turn to crime to secure the basics for their families.

Ms Yussf sends $400 to her family each month to pay for food, shelter and the education of two of her cousins.

She said if she could not continue to send money home, her cousins would be pulled out of school.

“Basic necessities like food and shelter and education and health are reliant on the diaspora community and if that stops then people are going to turn to crime,” Ms Yussf said.

“People will seek help or accept help from (terror group) Al Shabab, (who) say ‘we’ll support your every move if you can feed us’.

“Stopping the remittance flow of money will stop the country’s progress in its tracks.”

The UN has estimated in some parts of Somalia up to 40 per cent of families are reliant on money sent from overseas.

There is no structural economy in the country and the unemployment rate is more than 50 per cent.

Crackdown ‘could force money onto black market’

Most Australian Somalis use businesses that use the “hawala” system to send money to Somalia as there are no formal banks in the war-torn country.

Money is paid out in Somalia without actually being transferred and the debt is settled at a later date, often by through a bank account in a third country.

However, the operations require bank accounts outside Somalia to operate.

Financial crime expert Dr Hugh McDermott said the banks had been forced to stop servicing the businesses because they could not prove where the money was going once it left their networks.

“There’s been an ongoing concern for a couple of years, led by the AFP (Australian Federal Police), that if (remitters) weren’t regulated and weren’t controlled, terror groups could pass money offshore and you wouldn’t be able to tell where that went,” Mr McDermott said.

But he said the crackdown could force more money into criminal networks and terror groups.

“Legitimate regulated remitters will go out of business because they can’t transfer the money, and so people in different ethnic communities will go to underground remitters which is often organised crime or have links to terrorism.”

Banks in the UK and USA have also been tightening regulations around remittances to Somalia.

However government interventions in both countries mean money is still flowing for now.

Chairman of the Somali Australian Council of Victoria Hussein Haraco said similar action needed to happen Australia.

“This is a real life line for people in Somalia,” Mr Haraco said.

“We want the Government and the banks to talk and come up with a solution.”

A spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s department said the situation was challenging and it was monitoring the situation.

Somali Australian Council of Victoria president Hussein Haraco at a Bell St Mall money remittance agency. Picture: Andrew Henshaw.
Somali Australian Council of Victoria president Hussein Haraco at a Bell St Mall money remittance agency. Picture: Andrew Henshaw.
Somali Australian Council of Victoria president Hussein Haraco at a Bell St Mall money remittance agency. Picture: Andrew Henshaw.

Melbourne’s Somali community is warning innocent people will suffer if the last Australian bank to allow money transfers to the war-torn country follows through with its plan to stop the practice.

The community is desperate for a last minute reprieve after Westpac announced it was cutting links with money transfer agencies that send cash to the fragile country.

Westpac plans to follow other major banks and shut remittance accounts on November 24 over fears money will flow to terrorists or enable money laundering.

About 10,000 Somalis across the country will no longer be able to send money back to their families if Westpac becomes the last of the big four banks to shut down their accounts.

Somali Australian Council of Victoria president Hussein Haraco, also chair of the Somali Remittance Action Group, said the remittance agency account closures would stop a vital lifeline of money to households across Somalia.

Dr Haraco said Banyule — along with North Melbourne, Werribee and Broadmeadows — had a large Somali population and three remittance agencies at Heidelberg West’s Bell Street Mall.

He said Westpac was willing to discuss the issue but wanted the Federal Government to be involved.

“Shutting down these accounts may actually play into terrorist hands by sending the remittance industry underground where it cannot be policed,” Dr Haraco said.

Somali communities in Kensington and North Melbourne are fighting Westpac’s move, which they say is the last legal channel to get money to relatives living in dire poverty.

Kensington elder Abdurahman Jama Osman, who sends $100 every month to 85-year-old sister Halima, said he was deeply worried about her future.

“She will die (if I can’t send her money). She uses it to pay for food and for her rent,” Mr Osman said.

“She has no other income, no savings. She is not healthy.”

Mr Osman, who came to Australia as a refugee in 1998, said forcing money transfers underground would be risky for innocent people.

Abdurahman Jama Osman is concerned his elderly sister will die without his money transfers. Picture: Martin Reddy.
Abdurahman Jama Osman is concerned his elderly sister will die without his money transfers. Picture: Martin Reddy.

“Our people are very surprised by this. We are not terrorists, we don’t like what terrorists do. We are just trying to get money to needy people in Somalia,” he said. 

Banyule Council has written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, Jagajaga MP Jenny Macklin and Social Services MP Kevin Andrews asking for help in solving the issue.

Banyule spokeswoman Trish Hosking said the council had asked the Federal Government to intervene to keep existing banking accounts open for six months until a long-term solution could be found, as has happened in the US and UK.

Westpac spokesman Danny John said he could not comment on individual customer matters, but referred to an Australian Bankers’ Association statement about intensifying international and national regulations on remittances.

“(This resulted) in a decision by the bank to reduce its exposure to remitters,” Mr John said.

Association chief executive Steven Munchenberg said changing international regulations made providing payment services to remittance agencies increasingly difficult for the banking industry.

“The revised regulatory processes are part of an ongoing domestic and international process of verification of money transfers,” Mr Munchenberg said.

“This includes investing in the necessary internal and external safeguards to guarantee the nature of these payments.”

Dr Haraco said the community understood Somalia was considered a high risk country, but Somali money transfer operators followed Australian regulations and none had been deregistered by federal anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulator AUSTRAC.

He said 40 per cent of Somalian households were reported to depend on money transfers from relatives living in the developed world.

“The remittances are used for the purchase of staple foods like sorghum (flour substitute) and maize, sugar, and flour and tend to have a multiplier effect in local communities which helps households that don’t receive remittances themselves,” Dr Haraco said.

“Remittances are vital for Somalia’s fragile economy and its ability to feed and sustain itself.” 

Source: Heidelberg Leader

queensland somalis

queensland somalis

“I love Townsville,” beams Abdi Omar Osman, resplendent in his North Queensland Fury shirt.

To say that his journey here has been a long and arduous one would be a dramatic understatement.

Born in 1991, Mr. Osman and his family fled their native Somalia when war broke out later that year.

What followed was a journey of more than 700 kilometres, to the relative safety of the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya.

After more than 20 years there, sometimes eating only once a day, the opportunity to resettle and build a new life in Australia was one the aspiring nurse was determined to grasp with both hands.

“There’s a lot of things I can do now… like [study] biology, chemistry… English is my second language but I am going to improve,” he says, already at level three of his TAFE English language course.

“It is a shame to get only Centrelink money… you must work.”

Stories of refugees prospering in Townsville are becoming increasingly common since the city’s Multicultural Support Group accepted a contract to house and integrate those approved for resettlement.

“In the last financial year there’s been over 250 [refugees resettled] … the previous year was 198… eight years ago there might have been 50,” says manager Meg Davis.

“Most of those people stay and settle long term now in Townsville where originally when there were very small numbers people stayed here for less than six months and went further south to the big metropolitan cities.”

Successive governments have called on regional Australia to play a bigger role in encouraging refugees to settle outside of the nation’s capital cities, with Federal Government plans recently announced for safe haven enterprise visas which would require asylum seekers found to be refugees to live and work in rural areas.

Source: ABC Australia

Screen shot 2014-07-13 at 1.27.11 AMMore languages are spoken in Melbourne than there are countries in the world, a cacophony of 251 tongues whose voices stretch to all corners of the city.

It is a thoroughly modern metropolis, a changing city where as older European voices begin to trail off, Mandarin’s volume grows louder, particularly in the inner city.

It’s a city that can be justifiably proud of its linguistic diversity and one whose forefathers might scarcely recognise from the discussions around them. But demographers warn Melbourne’s melting-pot status could be at risk as rising house prices force new migrants into concentrated pockets.

Across the city, three in 10 people speak a language other than English when they get home and the variety grows daily as migration reshapes a city and its people. A major analysis carried out by Fairfax Media reveals 200,000 more Melburnians are speaking a language other than English at home than a decade ago.

In 6 per cent of suburbs more than half the population speaks languages other than English at the dinner table.

And in seven such suburbs, English is not the dominant language. Vietnamese is the most common language in four of these – Cairnlea, Braybrook, Sunshine North and Springvale.

In Campbellfield, in Melbourne’s north, 1494 people speak Arabic compared with 985 English speakers, census data shows. About 80 per cent of the community here speak a language other than English at home – the highest proportion of any suburb in the state.

In nearby Dallas and Meadow Heights, Turkish is the dominant language but Assyrian and related dialects thrive and almost a sixth of the population of both places speak Arabic.

Ghada Ibrahim runs a weekly Arabic playgroup at Meadow Heights Primary School and says many of the parents in the group are recent migrants who cannot speak English very well, but often their children communicate fluently in both English and Arabic.

Ms Ibrahim wants her two sons to speak Arabic so they can communicate with her family in Lebanon, but she encourages families from the playgroup to learn English as well. “I say, speak Arabic and English together,” she says. “English is also very important.”

Arabic is the sixth-most commonly spoken language other than English in metropolitan Melbourne, behind Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Cantonese.

But that is changing. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of Mandarin speakers jumped from about 60,000 to 100,000, driven by new arrivals. Mandarin is now the second-most spoken language in inner city areas including the CBD and Carlton, while in affluent Glen Waverley, 13 per cent of people speak it at home.

Across the state there are small pockets where less widespread languages are commonly spoken in the community. Information technology specialist Abdisalam Mohamed lives in Heidelberg West, in Melbourne’s north east, where one in 10 people speaks Somali at home.

“Speaking the Somali language will keep our culture and heritage alive,” he says.

“Within our community, all the transaction is done in Somali language and I expect our children to speak Somali and pass on this language to their kids as well.”

Only 44 of Victoria’s 1546 suburbs are home to a Somali speaker. Italian is the most widely dispersed non-English language, followed by German and Dutch.

Since moving to Australia from the US in February, Monash University city science lecturer Meead Saberi has also been analysing Melbourne’s population. His team have created maps that visualise ethnic distribution and he says he was pleasantly surprised to see what the data showed.

“Most American cities – such as Chicago and Washington DC – are very segregated,” he says. “Half the city is white, half the city is black and they are not mixing at all. But Melbourne is very mixed.”

But Monash University population researcher Bob Birrell warns economic currents could be pushing language groups towards greater segregation.

“The big picture is quite clear,” he says. “As Melbourne’s population expands very rapidly and competition for housing increases … those with limited resources, particularly recently arrived migrants who are from the family reunion and refugee stream, will have no choice but to move into relatively low-cost middle and outer suburbs.”

He says a widening rich-poor divide and booming house prices could prevent newer migrants from dispersing through the city like earlier generations of Europeans.

But in many cases languages are also concentrated in particular areas for cultural reasons, according to Giang Nguyen. Mrs Nguyen, 44, left Vietnam for Australia three decades ago and now lives in Braybrook in Melbourne’s west. She says Vietnamese migrants often settled in the area for family rather than financial reasons. “The Vietnamese are a close-knit community and family based,” she says.

When she arrived in Australia as a refugee, she couldn’t speak a word of English. She grew up in Maribyrnong and all but abandoned her mother tongue after learning English. “There were certain parts of my life where I didn’t speak Vietnamese at all,” she says. “I thought it was much better to be Australian. Now I look back and think that is stupid – you can be both.”

Mrs Nguyen started speaking Vietnamese in the home again after having children because she wanted her kids to be able to speak both English and Vietnamese. “It does keep the connection with the motherland and our roots,” she says. “I think my children will be able to appreciate the multiculturalism in Australia because they are a part of it.”

- With Inga Ting




The long wait for a Somali woman left horribly disfigured when she was shot in the face as a child is almost over.

Ayaan Mohamed, now 25, suffered horrific facial injuries as a result of the attack during Somalia’s brutal civil war.

In addition to cosmetic disfigurement, Ms Mohamed has difficulty eating and drinking and is unable to close her right eye.

She will arrive in Brisbane next week to undergo reconstructive surgery, thanks to the generosity of local Rotary clubs, donors and medical experts in the Queensland capital.

And she will be accompanied by the former foreign minister of the autonomous territory of Somaliland, Edna Adan Ismail.

Mrs Ismail founded the Edna Adan University Hospital to help combat infant and maternal mortality in her nation and has taken an active interest in Ms Mohamed’s plight.

“(I sincerely appreciate) the medical treatment, which is being offered to this young woman who sustained this injury when she was two years old,” she said.

Wesley Hospital medical services director Luis Prado said the hospital would cover the costs of Ms Mohamed’s hospital stay, theatre and other costs.

“Mrs Ismail’s tireless humanitarian work, the donations made and the community spirit shown by people here and overseas have combined to help achieve this outcome to bring Ms Mohamed to Brisbane,” Dr Prado said.

“Many of the Wesley’s visiting medical specialists and staff are generously volunteering their time and skills to assist.”

Brisbane’s High-Rise and Mitchelton Rotary clubs raised the money for Ms Mohamed’s trip to Australia.

The surgery, expected to take place on February 22, has been a long time coming.

The Wesley Hospital and Rotary had offered to bring Ms Mohamed to Australia for the complicated surgery free of charge last year, but the then-Gillard government denied her a medical visa last March.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison finally approved the visa last month, after a second visa application was made in October.

Source: Brisbane Times


Screen shot 2013-08-10 at 12.11.56 AM

Waraysi lagu ceeboobo markaan tilmaamayno kani wuxuu noqonayaa #1, sidaanaa loo jabaa haddi kale waa layska dhaafaa.

Stephanie Banister, oo doonaysay inay matasho xisbiga wadaniyiinta Australia ee loo yaqaan ONE NATION una tartamaysa doorashooyinka soo socda ee dalka Australia ayaa waraysi cajiib ah siisay TV-ga Channel Seven iyadoo doonaysay inay dadka ka dhaadhiciso aragtideeda ku aadan Islaamka iyo Hilib Xalaalka.

Wixii intaas raacay waxay u ahaayeen gabartan 27 jirka ah adduunyagadoon marka loo eego siyaasadeeda curdanka ah.

Stephanie ayaa tiri “Muslinka kama soo horjeedo WADAN ahaan laakiin waxaan shuruucdoodu halkan looguma talo galin”

Suaasha aan weydiinayno gabartan ayaa ah Calanka dalka Islam la yiraahdo calankiisu seebuu u eg yahay?


Raiisal Wasaaraha Australia Julia Gillard oo maalin sii horeysay ku kuftay Sydney Custom House, goor aan sii dhoweyna kabteeda ay kaga luntay Canbera mudaharaad Aboriginals-ku ay samaynayeen ayaa haddana mar kale wejiga afka darsatay iyadoo booqasho ku maraysay dalka India.

Gillard ayaa ubax dhigeysay qabriga Mahatma Gandi laakiin arrini waxay dhacday markay iyadoo socota ay taakada kabteeda ay cowska qabsatay.


Screen shot 2012-09-27 at 12.49.43 PM

Ninkan Cabsan ayaa lagu weydiiyey suaalo inuu ka jawaabo laguna baaro garoonka dayuuradaha ee Sydney Australia, laakiin sida aad ka arki doontid wuxuu noqday mid cirka Ilaahay kasoo tuuray oo mixnad ku noqday askartii socdaalka Australia.

Dabeecadda uu Muujiyay ninkan ayaa ah mid reer baadiyenimo iyo Jaahilnimo ay ku dheehan tahay. Haddii lagu dhaho waa lagu baarayaa tan ugu fudud oo aad samayn karto waxay tahay in baaritaanka aad ka qeyb qaadato, si aad dhakhso meesha uga baxdo. Laakiin hadaad qeyliso adigoo Alcohol uu afkaaga kasoo urayo oo aad diyaarada qac kaga soo siisay waxa aad la kulanto adiga lee waaye.


Ishwaq Osman (21) is a vivacious young Somali refugee woman who has been living in Jakarta for the last two years.

“At the start I could not get the lifestyle here, particularly the food. I was not used to spicy food,” said Osman while pinning her hijab under her chin. After six months Osman said she was eating “nasi goreng [fried rice] every second night.” 

In 2007 Osman left Somalia to study in Malaysia on a student visa. It was in Kuala Lumpur Osman first met a people smuggler known simply by the name Allen among the refugee community.

He promised to assist anyone seeking to get into Australia. 

Allen was in fact Alaaeldeen Osman Abdalla El-Zain, a native of Sudan. He is said to be a prominent member of a highly-sophisticated people-smuggling syndicate based in Malaysia and Indonesia, charging clients as up to US$10,000 for passage on one of the illegal boats leaving Indonesian borders to Australia. It is, however, a trip many do not make. 

Abdalla El-Zain regularly disappears as soon as he attains their money. Earning a comfortable living on false premises, refugees in search of a better life are vulnerable. 

One mid-afternoon in October 2008, Osman meet Abdalla El-Zain in a well-known hotel in Kuala Lumpur. That was the last time Osman was to see Abdalla El-Zain. Osman knew the chances of ever recovering her $3,000 were slim.

Namila Hassan (22), also Somali, is another victim of Abdalla El-Zain. “I give him $6,000 to go to Australia,” she said.

Namila’s first encounter with Abdalla El-Zain was also in Kuala Lumpur. Namila said Abdalla El-Zain is known to hand out copies of his passport, presumably a fake, to gain the trust of Somalis and other refugees desperate to gain entry to Australia. 

Namila’s journey to Jakarta has not been an easy one. At fifteen she left Somalia to go to Ethiopia. After living in Addis Abbaba for several years she went to Malaysia. 

Abdalla El-Zain assisted Namila to enter Indonesia. He took her to Surabaya where she stayed with an Indonesian man who worked closely with Abdalla El-Zain.

During her stay in Surabaya, Namila tells a harrowing story about how she was not given food, had to drink dirty water and at one point she thought she was going to die. The situation made worse by the language barrier. She struggled to communicate with the Indonesian smuggler. 

“I thought my time was up on this earth,” Namila said. 

If it hadn’t been for family members who eventually managed to get her into Jakarta, Namila is certain that the situation would have been very different. 

Another young Somali, Fatima Ali (21), also has no kind words to say about Abdalla El-Zain.

“He hurt a lot of people,” Fatima said. 

In June 2009, Fatima spent six months in an immigration camp after begin on one of the illegal boats intercepted en-route to Australia. 

Osman, Namila and Fatima are all registered with UNHCR. Other humanitarian bodies, such as Church Word Services Indonesia (CWS) and International Organization for Migration (IOM), assist in providing monthly living allowances and English classes. 

There are around 200 Somali refugees living in Jakarta. Somalia has had no functioning central government since the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991.

Militia leaders have carved the country into rival fiefdoms. Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabab threatens any hope of the current Somalia Transitional Federal government of forming a stable country. 

The dire situation in Somalia perpetuates the appeal for those like Osman, Namila, and Fatima to leave Somalia. The risk involved in boarding a boat not intended for high seas is never a deterrent.

In the time they have been living in Jakarta, Osman, Namila and Fatima have all learned to speak fluent Bahasa and have come to grips with the Indonesian culture and way of life. 

Osman said Indonesians were very welcoming. “The people are very helpful, I have never had anything stolen or been in a fight.” As an African she never faced any form of discrimination.

They have also become a fan of television soap series Putri Yang Tertukar (Stolen Princess) and Lagu Cinta Nirmala (Nirmala’s Love Song). Osman and Fatima have been granted refugee status and will leave to Brisbane and Melbourne respectively on Thursday. Namila is still waiting for her application to be processed. 

“I hope to get it sometime this month,” Namila said.

Lee-small-3Maalintii Arbacada 26 Jan 2011 ahayd ayaa waxaa lagu qabtay xaflad balaaran faras magaalaha Melbourne ee wadanka Australia, taasoo loogu dabbaaldagayey munaasabadda Maalinta Wadanka Australia ama Australian Day.

Balse sannadkan waxay kaga duwanayd waxaa ka qayb galay dhalinyaro Soomaali ah oo halkaa ka muujiyey heeso iyo ciyaaraba.Waxaa kaloo iyana halkaa lagu taageeray dhisidda School laga dhisi doono Somali iyo caawimaad kaleba.

Liban aden oo ahaa wiil kii Soomaaliyeed oo ka qayb galay Australiad Idol Show iyo dhalin cusub oo la magac baxday Fresh Kids ayaa halaa wacdaro ka muujiyey heeso iyo ciyaarana ku madadaaliyey dad lagu qiyaasay in ay raadheen 15,000 oo qof.



0.82Three men, including two Lebanese, were found guilty Thursday of plotting to attack a Sydney army base with high-powered weapons and kill as many people as possible to further the cause of Islam.

The Supreme Court in Melbourne heard that the men, who have been linked with Islamic extremists in Somalia, planned to continue their rampage at Sydney’s Holsworthy army barracks until they were killed or captured.

Melbourne men Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, 34, Nayef El Sayed, 26 — both of Lebanese descent — and Somali Saney Edow Aweys, 27 were found guilty of conspiring to prepare for or plan a terrorist act between February 1 and August 4, 2009.

“Islam is truth religion. Thank you very much,” Fattal told the jury.

No date was set for sentencing, but the three were ordered back to court on January 24 for an administrative hearing.

Meanwhile Somalis Abdirahman Mohamud Ahmed, 26, and Yacqub Khayre, 23, were found not guilty after the three-month trial. They hugged their co-defendants before leaving the dock.

“I think justice has been served,” Ahmed said, adding that the three convictions were “unfortunate but this is God’s will.

“I just want to tell them to be patient. They’ll get out one day,” he said.

Crown prosecutor Nick Robinson earlier said the plot was hatched between February and August 4 last year, when the five were arrested in a swoop involving hundreds of police in Melbourne.

He said one of the accused visited Somalia to seek a fatwa, or religious decree, for the attack, adding they had condemned Australia’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan and believed the country was oppressing Muslims.(AFP)

NEW ZEALAND-AUCKLAND-2010 YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES-FLAME WELCOMINGAUCKLAND – EVERY time Mohammad Ali introduces himself, the 17-year-old endures raised eyebrows and, sometimes, incredulous looks.

No surprise, given that the 3,000-metre runner’s name sounds just like that of three-time world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, whom many consider one of the greatest athletes of all time.

The Fairfield College student’s name is a combination of an uncle’s (Mohammad) and grandfather’s (Ali).

‘Some of my friends, they think it’s a fake name at first,’ said Mohammad, one of 54 New Zealanders bound for the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, yesterday.

‘Only after five, 10 minutes of conversation do they believe me.’

Teachers and customs control officers at airports do a double take as well, but the reigning New Zealand and Australian junior 3,000m champion’s name is a bonus when it comes to the opposite sex.

‘All the girls love him, they’re always wanting to get photos with him,’ said his 24-year-old sister Fatuma.

Five posters of the former American boxer and 1960 Olympics gold medallist adorn Mohammad’s bedroom walls.

The only time he tried out boxing was a few months ago when fellow Kiwi YOG athletes came together for a camp. He got punched and cut on the upper lip.

Still, ‘The Greatest’ is his idol.

‘I watch videos of him on TV, and read his autobiography when I was 13. Reading about how he lost when he was about to retire, came back, won, and then retired – that was really inspirational.’

The Kiwi teenager is a natural-born sportsman as well – first picking up karate before proceeding to don school colours in rugby union, rugby league, football, volleyball and athletics.

Victory at the Pan-Pacific Junior Championships’ 800m and 1,500m events (Under-14 category) convinced the then-11-year-old he should devote his energies to running.

His 1.62m, 53kg frame suits the middle and long-distance events, and his aim at the YOG is to better his personal record of 8min 40sec.

Said his father Rage (pronounced Ra-je): ‘We were aware he’d have the same name as the boxer, but our dream was actually for him to play football.’

The 62-year-old and his wife Koina, 51, along with their four sons and four daughters, hail from Djibouti in Africa.

When civil war broke out in 1991, the family fled to neighbouring Ethiopia and were largely based there. Mohammad was born in 1993 – in a car – when his parents were driving near the small town of Obock in Djibouti.

In 2001, the family left Africa for New Zealand. They settled in Hamilton, a town about two hours’ drive from Auckland.

He is now among the most promising athletes in Oceania. But, having never competed in Asia, Mohammad is wary of Singapore’s high humidity and the strength of the field.

India’s Indrajeet Patel, for instance, won May’s YOG Asian Area qualifier nearly 25 seconds faster than Mohammad’s personal best. The second, third and fourth finishers were also better than his time.

Mohammad said: ‘It’s good to be part of the first YOG. But you don’t know what’s going to happen, so it’s going to be tough.’
‘Some of my friends, they think it’s a fake name at first.’
Straits Times

somali womanSomali woman Asha Ali Abdille, 36, has pleaded guilty to a charge of trying to hijack an aircraft flying from Blenheim to Christchurch.

Abdille made the guilty plea in the High Court in Christchurch today at a pre-trial hearing.

Justice French took the plea after ruling Abdille was fit to stand trial on eight charges. Abdille had been examined by two psychiatrists, one of whom considered her “eminently fit” to stand trial even though she might be mentally impaired, Justice French said.

Abdille was remanded to the care of Hillmorton Hospital until sentencing on August 27.

She faces seven other charges, including four of wounding, but Crown prosecutor Pip Currie said the Crown would not be offering evidence on the other charges.

Abdille tried to hijack the 19-seater Jetstream aircraft carrying two crew and seven passengers on February 8, 2008. She carried three knives on board and after a scuffle was overpowered by the crew. She was arrested in Christchurch. One pilot suffered a severe cut to his hand and the other cut his foot.


emerge_Abdi_Mohamed_Abdi_(Somalia)Omar left his homeland in 1990, travelling first to Sudan and then later to Malaysia. After two years in an Australian detention centre, he settled in West Heidelberg. In a backroom of Tanaad grocery, he tells me he was fortunate: he lived a traditional nomadic life until he was eight, settling in a town when he was old enough to attend school. He left Somalia before civil war broke out, although his mother, a poet, recorded songs of her daily life — the warlords, the militia, the violence — on cassette tapes, ensuring he learnt of what was happening in his homeland through regular dispatches. He responded with his own poems, finding his voice as he did.

Soon after settling in Melbourne he began work with Multicultural Arts Victoria, whose Emerge Program encourages newly arrived refugees to participate in a range of artistic projects. While many of its participants were skilled performers in their homelands, others are young artists, with workshops designed to teach, nurture and facilitate their talents. Its goals are many: to create bridges within and between refugee communities, to provide refugees with an avenue for expression, and to build confidence and leadership skills.

In 2006, Omar hosted a series of poetry workshops for Somali teenagers in the northern suburbs, culminating in a night of recitals at Preston Town Hall. The following year he took part in the organisation’s annual Emerge Festival.

His community work led him to his thesis topic — Omar has spent the past four years interviewing Somali teenagers in both Melbourne and Minneapolis about their experience of integration; what it’s like to find their feet in a new country, which parts of Somali culture they’ve chosen to bring with them, which they’ve left behind.

Through his research, Omar confronts his community’s problems — low literacy levels, culture shock, fractured family dynamics, the trauma of years (sometimes decades) spent living in refugee camps — as if they were his own. Namely, of course, because they once were.

Another of Omar’s concerns is the preservation of Somali culture. Not in the static, behind-glass museum sense, but rather in the living hearts and minds of Somali youth. The advantage of being young is that refugee children adapt to new surrounds quickly. The danger is that in their desperation to fit in, they abandon their heritage entirely. “Young people learn English very fast. Their parents learn from them, but they don’t learn enough to communicate properly. The children understand Somali, but they don’t speak it, so conversation is very basic.” Without a shared language, he says, family conversations rarely extend to stories of Somalia, or what their parents endured to bring them here. “Young people don’t think their parents’ culture is relevant to them. It belongs to another time and place. Their focus is on fitting in where they are.”

Back in Somalia, culture faces a different kind of attack. After the country’s descent into civil war, Islamic extremists imposed bans on singing, music, painting and poetry. Sharia law prevents even moderate Muslims from dancing or playing music at weddings. In April this year, the country’s al Qaeda-inspired insurgent group, Al-Shabaab, raided Mogadishu’s radio stations, banning broadcasts and destroying equipment. The city’s 14 stations have since been silent, so too mobile phones — musical ring tones are outlawed.

Similar sentiments extend to Melbourne’s Somali community, where many view musicians and singers with open disdain. Omar says he frequently urges local religious leaders to embrace music publicly, to speak about its cultural significance. Until they do so, he says, nothing will change.

Still, there is hope. He points to Somali-born hip-hop artist K’naan — who last week performed at the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony — as a glimmer of light from the country’s wide diaspora. Melbourne offers its own opportunities. Performing as part of the Emerge Festival at Fitzroy Town Hall tomorrow will be Somali singer and musician Abdi Mohamed Abdi.

Born in the southern port city of Kismayoo, Abdi was 10 when he started playing instruments: accordion, flute, guitar, piano. His first band was called Dur Dur (archival footage of the band performing in the 1970s is posted on YouTube). He also composed, arranged and performed in numerous other bands before fleeing to Kenya after civil war broke out. Abdi and his family then spent 17 years living in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp before reaching Australia last year.

Abdi made contact with Multicultural Arts Victoria with the help and encouragement of his refugee case worker, Niall McKinnon. The two met after Abdi was referred to McKinnon last September. As with many newly arrived refugees, the family found the machinations of life in the first world — housing, education, health — hard to negotiate. In between accompanying Abdi and his children to appointments, the two talked about Abdi’s life in Somalia, his love of music, his sadness of not having played for many years.

McKinnon, who knew of Multicultural Arts Victoria’s Visible Program and the Emerge Cultural Network, contacted project officer Anita Larkin. Abdi signed up for workshops, and has since learnt how to set up a MySpace site, met other recording artists and recorded tracks in a studio with producer Ivan Khatchoyan. He hopes to send the recordings back to Kenya for his band to record over and complete as an album.

He tells me his story in the loungeroom of his Reservoir home. Then he performs songs he’s written about his experience of civil war and his wish for peace in his homeland. He dedicates the songs to his wife, who hovers by the doorway while a toddler dances on the rug by his father’s feet.

As for Omar, he won’t be making it to this year’s Emerge Festival. He’s flying to Italy to attend a conference on conflict resolution and present a research paper. He still writes poetry, and his mother, who now lives in Minneapolis, still sends him cassettes of her poetry. Her most recent tape features a song about the strangeness of seeing white people every day and this peculiar kind of rock water American people like in their drinks: ice. Omar hopes one day to transcribe her poetry into a family memoir, a time capsule of what Somali life was like before the war. “The poems are about nature, the pride of the people, day-to-day life. She never learnt to read and write, but she would sing these songs when I was a child. They are the stories of my culture.”

Emerge Festival runs from June 20 to August 3, opening tomorrow with the Freedom From Fear concert at Fitzroy Town Hall from noon. For details of other events, visit

abdirahman osmanA SOMALI community leader has rejected claims that police are continuing to racially target Flemington’s African teenagers.

Somali Community of Victoria president Abdirahman Osman said relations between Flemington police and the Somali community had improved in the past 18 months.

“There was a time (from 2006 to 2008) when children, mostly boys 13 to 17 were making mistakes, fighting each other and disrespecting police,” Mr Osman said. “There are no problems with the police and the Somali community now.

“No parent has come to me to complain that their children have been abused by police.”

The comments follow last week’s release of a joint community legal centre report into alleged police harassment of African youths by Flemington, Braybrook and Dandenong police. Mr Osman said police had “tried to make friends” with Somali residents ever since Melbourne’s African leaders met senior Victoria Police officers in 2008 in a bid to resolve tensions between police and young African residents.

Former Moonee Valley police Insp Nigel Howard, in charge when the alleged assaults happened, said he could not comment on the legal centre report because he had not read it. But he had “no doubt there were elements of racist attitudes” among some officers when he started at the Flemington headquarters in 2005.

“We’ve tried to stamp that out and we’ve changed the culture at Flemington police station,” Insp Howard said.

“We’ve moved on and the community has moved on.”

Moonee Valley police last year employed an emerging communities liaison officer who is Eritrean-Sudanese.

Tamar Hopkins, of the Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre, said the centre had not received a complaint about harassment by Flemington police in the past 18 months.

About 16 young people made 20 complaints about assaults by police from 2006-08, she said.


Moonee Valley Leader

vic PoliceVICTORIA Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland is embroiled in another race row after admitting that there are bigots on his force.

Mr Overland, whose public standing took a hit from his clumsy handling of the furore surrounding attacks on Indians living in Melbourne, yesterday conceded there were racists in his ranks.

He got no argument from three young Africans living in Melbourne’s west, who detailed their rough treatment at the hands of local cops.

Emmanuel Makoi, 18, vividly recalled being kicked and punched by police after being called a “black c. . .”. He was then driven to an abandoned spot by the Maribyrnong River, the brown ribbon that separates Melbourne’s east from west, and assaulted again.

“They see the colour first, mate,” agreed 21-year-old Koyock Gumwel. “As soon as they see Africans walking in the street, they come with their lights on, ask for your name and start searching you for no reason.”

simon overlandAs for Mr Overland’s pledge yesterday to stamp out racism within the force? “The damage has been done,” said a 17-year-old who gave his name as Hass. “It’s happened to us now.”

The damning allegations were made to The Australian as Mr Overland responded to a report claiming routine over-policing, physical assault and verbal abuse by police against African youths in three Melbourne municipalities.

The full report is expected to be publicly released today and is yet to be seen by Mr Overland, who endured a difficult first year as Victoria’s top cop.

While many of the attacks on Indians living in Melbourne have been shown not to be motivated by race – such as this month’s death of toddler Gurshan Singh – the Chief Commissioner raised the ire of business groups and the Indian community when he advised Indians to “look poor” to avoid being assaulted.

He also faces growing public concern over a proliferation of knife attacks in Melbourne – the latest example of a growing trend for violent crime in the state.

Law and order issues are expected to dominate the campaign when Victorians head to the polls in November.

The report into police dealings with the African community, compiled by researchers on behalf of Victoria’s Legal Services Board, is based on a series of anonymous interviews with 30 young Africans, eight community workers and two police in Greater Dandenong, Flemington and Braybrook – three areas with high numbers of African-born residents.

Mr Overland said the “vast majority” of Victoria’s police were not racist. However, he conceded a “small number” might be motivated by bigotry in carrying out their duties. He vowed to take action against any allegations supported by evidence.

“I have to acknowledge that, like the broader community, we all undoubtedly have some people who have racist attitudes,” Mr Overland said.

“That is not OK. It is particularly not OK if they act on those racist attitudes in a work context and where I find evidence of that, those people can expect to be dealt with very decisively.”

The report authors say the breadth of allegations points to a more systematic problem. It finds young Africans living in Melbourne are routinely asked to “move on” from a public space and harassed by being stopped and asked to show identification. They are subjected to a “guest mentality” where they are treated as outsiders in their own community and, in the most serious instances, are beaten up and racially abused by police.

“Almost all the young people we interviewed have had a negative experience of policing, ranging from harassment and openly racist comments to serious assaults requiring hospitalisation,” the report finds.

“Rather than the police providing protection for their community, African young people feel they need some form of protection from the police.”

African community mistrust in police is aggravated by a lack of faith in the available avenues of complaints, which rely on police being asked to investigate their colleagues, and raise fears of retribution.

In one alleged example of police brutality in the report, “participant 3″ describes being assaulted in similar circumstances to Mr Makoi’s.

“They kicked me on the ground,” participant 3 said. “I thought I was gonna die or pass out, ya know? Just after that, I thought they were taking me to the police station. They put me in the divvy van, the drove me all the way to back of . . . then they all bashed me, they chucked my wallet out.

“Come out you black c. . ., get out of the divvy van. They hit me straight away, aiming at my leg here with the torch.”

In another instance, a youth worker and young African both described a clash between police and Africans at a suburban park where police had gathered out of uniform and ended up assaulting a 14-year-old boy.

Springvale Monash Legal Service director Helen Yandell said the litany of claims heard by researches suggested a cultural problem within Victoria Police.

“We can’t say it is a few isolated bad cops when we are talking about across three major regions of Melbourne and communities that are quite widespread,” Ms Yandell said.

The report was commissioned and interviews done following the 2007 murder of Sudanese teenager Liep Gony and fierce public debate about the integration of Horn of Africa immigrants into Melbourne’s suburbs.

Mr Overland said he could not respond to specific allegations until he had read the full report, obtained last night by The Australian. He also questioned why the Legal Services Board had chosen to release parts of the report publicly without giving police a right of reply.

“Until I can see the report, understand the findings in the report and the evidence that supports those findings and have an opportunity to talk to the authors, it is very difficult for me to talk to the particulars,” Mr Overland said. “What I will say is if there are allegations there and evidence that supports those allegations we will take action. Racism in any form is not OK. Misuse of authority or power by Victoria Police is not OK.”


The Australian

17.02.2010 18:24:53

( – A better-than-expected performance of the Australian economy has compelled us to revise our full-year growth forecast for 2009 upwards to 0.3%, from -0.8% previously, while retaining our 2010 forecast of 1.9% growth. A key risk to our outlook is a renewed Chinese downturn, which could adversely impact on Australia’s economy.

Australia’s international deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and public alignment with

the US, have made it a target for Islamic terrorists. As yet, there have been no terrorist attacks on Australian soil. However, in Melbourne five individuals were arrested and charged on August 4-5 with plotting to conduct a suicide attack on a military base near Sydney. The men allegedly intended to attack the base with automatic weapons and kill as many military personnel as they could until they themselves were killed. The law enforcement agencies have claimed that the men had sought a fatwa, or religious ruling, on the permissibility of their planned attack from Sheikhs associated with the Somali militant group Al- Shabab. Al-Shabab is currently waging a jihadist insurgency against the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia. Links between Al-Shabab and Somali refugee populations in Australia and other Western nations are causing much concern for law-enforcement and security agencies.

Australia’s Rudd government’s first budget included a 6.4% increase in 2008/09 defence expenditure and a commitment that spending would continue to increase by 3% in real terms per year until at least 2017, while also warning that it expected the Department of Defence to find annual internal savings of around AUD1bn. The Rudd government’s defence white paper, released in May 2009, recommends considerable expansion of the navy costing tens of billions of dollars, doubling the submarine fleet from six to 12, acquiring three new air warfare destroyers, eight new well-armed frigates, 24 new naval combat helicopters, a bigger fleet of more powerful patrol craft, and developing a serious anti-submarine warfare capability.

However, the global financial crisis has already forced the Department of Defence to shelve plans to buy billions of dollars worth of military equipment, including a AUD5bn maritime surveillance system. Australia had also announced that it would acquire 100 F-35s. On December 1 2009, the government announced that it would acquire an initial 14 F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft and that the funding was now in place.

Australia Defence and Security Report Q1 2010: published 1/1/2010 is available at: ..

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