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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Light a Candle New Years day



We are asking everyone to light a candle on New Year's day and pray for the safe and speedy return of Amanda and Nigel to come home! The power of collective prayer and positive energy! Please pass this on, the more persons praying the better!! Thanks to all who have help Amanda, Nigel and their families up in prayer through the most rying time of our lives! Amanda's Mom, Lorinda

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Alberta journalist held hostage in Somalia believed to be fine

An Alberta journalist being held hostage in somalia is reportedly fine and being treated well, despite the fact more than a month has passed since the ransom deadline for her release.
Some talks are going on between local authorities and the group that kidnapped Sylvan Lake freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout, Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan and Somali fixer and photojournalist Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi, but things are moving slowly, said Leonard Vincent, Africa desk chief of Paris-based reporters without Borders. "What we can confirm is they are fine, in the same place and in the hands of the same group."
Canadian authorities are working hard to free Lindhout, Vincent added.
The trio were taken at gunpoint in August. In September, the kidnappers demanded $2.5 million in exchange for their release. The deadline passed in October.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Somali kidnappers blame Canada, Aussie


Kidnappers of Canadian and Australian journalists have accused Ottawa and Canberra of being accomplices in the Somali conflict. Mujahideen of Somalia who seized the journalists last month accused Canada and Australia of 'taking part in the destruction of Somalia', according to a video aired by Al Jazeera television on Tuesday. The video showed Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan who were kidnapped by gunmen near Mogadishu on Aug. 23. It showed Lindhout, wearing an Islamic robe, and her colleague along with armed Islamic forces. She was speaking to a camera but the tape's audio was not aired.


Kidnapped Australian photographer Nigel BrennanThe kidnappers also demanded that Canada and Australia review their policies towards the African country, the television said. Last week, an official of the group Reporters Without Borders said that the kidnappers were seeking $2.5 million for the return of the captives. The Canadian national Amanda Lindhout formerly reported for Press TV from Baghdad. Lindhout's fearless reporting from Baghdad for the Iran-based news channel shed light on the intense poverty and political alienation experienced by the population of Baghdad's Sadr City. With photographer Brennan, Lindhout had taken the road from the Somali capital Mogadishu to the nearby city of Afgoye where they were planning to visit a refugee camp.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Remember Alberta reporter being held hostage: media group

In the wake of news that a CBC reporter was held hostage in Afghanistan and released after nearly a month in captivity, the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) is urging the Canadian government to step up its efforts to secure the safe release of an Alberta freelance journalist taken hostage in Somalia earlier this year.
Amanda Lindhout, 27, was abducted August 23, along with an Australian photojournalist and a Somali man working with the journalists. Lindhout’s captors demanded a ransom by October 28, but that deadline passed with no news. “Freelancers are always more vulnerable, but in particular Amanda — because she is young, perhaps a little bit inexperienced, and she’s in probably one of the most dangerous countries in the world,” says CAJ president Mary Agnes Welch. “So I think it’s a particularly critical situation.”
On November 8, the CBC revealed that Afghanistan correspondent Mellissa Fung had been abducted four weeks prior, held captive and ultimately released. The public broadcaster and the federal government had asked other media organizations not to report on the kidnapping during her captivity because publicity could jeopardize negotiations for her release. The decision has sparked vigorous debate on whether or not news organizations would agree to a similar blackout if the hostage wasn’t a journalist.
Lindhout’s kidnapping was reported in the media almost immediately after it occurred. “The fact is that we do know about Amanda,” says Welch. “It’s already out there, so we might as well try and sort of use that to try and spur the government to maybe do a little bit more than they’re already doing on her behalf.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Deadline for kidnapped Albertan journalist passes


A deadline for the release of kidnapped Alberta freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout has come and gone, but an international press group said it's not overly concerned they've heard no news.
Leonard Vincent, Africa desk chief of Paris-based Reporters without Borders, said the 15 day deadline for payment of the $2.5 million ransom to her Somali captors is to be taken seriously, but not literally.
"We take it very seriously. I think it was just a way of frightening us in the outside world. It wasn't really an ultimatum. I don't think they will do what they said they will do," he said Tuesday.


Lindhout, of Sylvan Lake, Alberta, was taken in August along with Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan and Somali fixer and photojournalist Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi. They were taken at gunpoint.
Vincent said in his experience the hostage takers need their captives to stay alive.
"These guys are protected by the hostages. They are using them as shields in a very hostile environment. They are getting a lot of pressure and they need money. The only way they can get money is to keep them alive. I mean, it's not a political thing," said Vincent.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said it has received no new update about Lindhout's situation. It says it is pursuing all appropriate channels to find information and secure her release.
Mackenzie Institute president John Thompson also said the kidnapping appears for-profit. As such, victims are really assets and oftentimes deadlines meant to entice a speedy response can come and go with little action.


It would be more concerning if the kidnapping were political and the captors wanted to make a statement.
"It's also always possible that they will sell the captives to somebody else," said Thompson.
In Iraq, said Thompson, kidnap victims have been sold to extremists groups. That would be a fate fraught with more uncertainties, if it were to happen in this case, he said.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ransom deadline for kidnapped Canadian journalist may be good news

OTTAWA - Canadian authorities in Somalia are doing as much as they can for a young Canadian journalist kidnapped at gunpoint nearly two months ago in the war-torn African country, according to a spokesman at an international group of journalists.
"There is an open channel of communication now," said Leonard Vincent, head of the Africa desk of Reporters Without Borders. "I know there are very intense efforts made by the Canadians, so messages (from the kidnappers) can go through."
Vincent said the efforts are obviously working, after a deadline on a ransom demand was announced earlier this week by a group claiming to be holding Sylvan Lake, Alta., journalist Amanda Lindhout, Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan, and Somali photojournalist Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi.

The three were abducted at gunpoint on Aug. 23 while on a road between Afgoye and the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
In September, the kidnappers demanded a ransom of $2.5 million for the foreigners' release. On Monday, the group contacted Lindhout's last employer, Press TV, an English-language Iranian television station, saying if the ransom was not paid within 15 days, Lindhout and Brennan would die.
Vincent said this new deadline should be seen as a positive step toward their release.
"These guys are a little gang. The bills are piling up. It costs a lot of money to keep Western hostages," he said from Paris. "The kidnappers are getting nervous or impatient in finding a settlement. We believe, and always have believed, that the two foreigners are their shield. It's just a way of drawing attention and spreading fear (for them)."
Although no group has taken responsibility for the kidnapping, various news organizations working on the case say this ransom demand shows the kidnappers are fuelled by finances, not political gain.
"If they were to get rid of them, they will be exposed to attacks from the other side - from Islamists, Americans, Canadians," Vincent said. "They're protected by the fact that they have hostages. It's always been about the money; the money is a way for them to protect themselves, to get some food, a car, and some weapons and get away after this is done."
A spokesman for Foreign Affairs said Wednesday the agency was aware of the recent deadline made by the kidnappers, but could not provide any details in fear of jeopardizing the government's efforts.
Vincent said a country such as Somalia, which has lacked an effective government since 1991, is extremely difficult for government agencies to negotiate with in such situations.
"In these types of cases, you don't just pick up the phone; there has be middlemen, exchanges of messages through several intermediaries. The difficulty now is to maintain the communication," he said.
In September, the Arab-language, all-news satellite network, Al-Jazeera, broadcasted video footage of Lindhout and Brennan. The video showed the two appealing for governments to work together toward their release, but there was no sound.
Lindhout, 27, and Brennan, 37, had intended on visiting refugee camps in the war-torn country when they were kidnapped. She was a freelance TV and print journalist who had worked in Baghdad before going to Africa.
The Canadian government has advised against all travel in Somalia.
Islamists are engaged in guerrilla warfare and deadly clashes with Somali government forces, Ethiopian troops and African Union peacekeepers.

Press group expects quick release of hostages

CALGARY -- Death threats with a two-week deadline against a Canadian journalist and Australian photographer kidnapped in Somalia nearly two months ago are an act of desperation that could lead to the quick release of the captives, according to an international journalists group.
Press TV, an Iranian English-language news channel, reported Monday through its Mogadishu correspondent that if a $2.5-million ransom is not paid in 15 days, freelance reporter Amanda Lindhout of Sylvan Lake, Alta., and photojournalist Nigel Brennan of Brisbane would be killed.
Leonard Vincent, who works for the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders, said the hostage-takers are simply trying to get the attention of Canadian and Australian authorities.
"This shows that they are very nervous and that they are starting to get impatient," he said. "The bills are piling up. This kidnapping is starting to cost them a lot of money. So they are urging for a quick settlement and a quick agreement."


The foreign journalists, along with Somali photographer and interpreter Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi, as well as the group's driver, were kidnapped Aug. 23 just outside Mogadishu.
Constantly moving the hostages to safe houses and guarding and feeding them has forced the captors to give up their day jobs for a long and costly undertaking, Mr. Vincent explained.
"They have in their hands a hot potato," he added. "It starts to be very embarrassing and very long. They didn't expect this to be so long and so complicated." Last month, Al Jazeera television network broadcast video of the kidnapped reporters. The tape showed armed men around the captives and accused Canada and Australia of "taking part in the destruction of Somalia."
Ms. Lindhout, 27, who has reported from Iraq for Press TV, and Mr. Brennan had only arrived in Somalia a few days before they vanished. They left their hotel in the capital bound for a refugee camp about 30 kilometres away. They were apparently ambushed on their way back to the city.
Eugénie Cormier-Lassonde, a spokeswoman with Foreign Affairs Canada, said Ottawa is aware of recent media reports and is working with Australian officials for the safe return of citizens of both countries.
"We cannot release any further information which may jeopardize these efforts," Ms. Cormier-Lassonde said.
"Canada remains willing to listen to and speak with persons who may have information that will assist in the safe release of the hostages," she added.
Ms. Lindhout's parents could not be reached for comment. Former MP Bob Mills, a friend of the family who had been speaking on their behalf, has since been advised not to talk to the media so as to "not compromise" the case. Friends and family have joined groups on the social-networking site Facebook urging Ottawa to pick up the pace.
Mr. Vincent advised families to be patient.
"I think this is a sign they are just ready for a settlement," he said.

Monday, October 13, 2008

15 days to save journalists in Somalia


Somali kidnappers threaten to kill Canadian journalist, Amanda Lindhout and Australian photographer, Nigel Brennan if ransom is not paid.

Press TV's correspondent in Mogadishu reported on Monday that one of the kidnappers said if the $2.5 million ransom was not paid in 15 days, the journalists would be killed.

Lindhout and Brennan were kidnapped while en route to Hawa Abdi refugee camp in Afgoye -- a city located 28 km southwest of Mogadishu -- from the Somali capital, on August 23.

Lindhout, 27, a freelance television and print reporter from Sylvan Lake, Alberta, filed stories from Iraq on behalf of Press TV, Iran's 24-hour English-language news channel.

The abduction comes amid the unrest that continues unabated in Somalia. Years of fighting between rival warlords and the inability to deal with famine and disease have so far resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people.

Journalists are frequently taken hostage for ransom in the Horn of Africa country.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Somali official: German citizen rescued

MOGADISHU, Somalia - A local governor says Somali forces have freed a German man and his Somali wife two days after they were kidnapped.


Muse Gelle Yusuf, governor of the northern port of Bosasso, says the couple are in police custody after being freed Monday.

Foreigners, journalists and humanitarian workers are frequently abducted for ransoms in Somalia.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, leaving the country in the grip of violence and anarchy.

Witnesses: Fighting in Somali capital kills 30

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalia's warring sides pounded the capital with mortar rounds and gunfire Monday, killing 30 people — including a family of seven — as Islamic insurgents who want to topple the government gain significant power.



Monday's fighting pitted insurgents against government forces and their Ethiopian allies, who come under regular attack in Mogadishu, one of the most violent cities in the world. The violence left bodies in city streets. When the blasts calmed, young men ventured out to transport the gravely wounded to hospitals in rickety wheelbarrows.

"There is blood everywhere, and human flesh on the walls," Abshir Mohamed Ali, a shop owner at Bakara market, where much of the fighting was centered, told The Associated Press.

The fighting began after Islamic insurgents fired mortars at the capital's main airport and the presidential palace, said Ali Mohamed Siyad, who chairs Bakara market traders' association. Soon after, government forces and their Ethiopian allies retaliated with mortars and gunfire.

In the past, government officials have suspected insurgents use Bakara market as a base.

Islamic militants with ties to al-Qaida have been fighting the government and its Ethiopian allies for control since their combined forces pushed the Islamists from the capital in December 2006. Within weeks of being driven out, the Islamists launched an Iraq-style insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians to date.

In recent weeks, the militants appear to be gaining strength and sidelining the fragile government. The group, known as the Council of Islamic Courts, has taken over the port town of Kismayo, Somalia's third-largest city, and dismantled pro-government roadblocks. They also effectively closed the Mogadishu airport by threatening to attack any plane using it.

"We keep recruiting new fighters to prepare them for the holy war against Ethiopian troops in our country and their Somali stooges," said Sheik Muhumed, a commander with al-Shabab, the group's military wing.

The United States considers al-Shabab a terrorist group, raising fears Somalia could become a haven for al-Qaida.

The Western-backed Somali government, meanwhile, has failed to deliver any basic services and comes under daily attack. The administration had no immediate comment on Monday's bloodshed.

Among the dead in Monday's attacks were seven members of one family — a mother, grandmother, four children and an uncle — when a mortar round landed near their home. The one survivor was a 2-year-old boy who escaped with minor injuries.

"This boy will remain a reminder of this sad story," said Safiya Mohamed Dahir, the children's uncle.

He said the eldest child, a 12-year-old girl, had amassed years of heartbreaking knowledge growing up in Mogadishu.

"One thing I will always remember is how she could tell the difference between the sounds of gunfire, bombs and mortars, at her young age," Dahir said. "She would yell, 'Explosion! Mortar! And gunfire!' And now she's gone."

Dr. Dahir Dhere of Medina Hospital said at least 60 were wounded, including nine children.

Siyad said he and other workers had counted about 30 bodies. Other witnesses described at least 19.

The African Union has sent about 2,000 peacekeepers to Somalia, but they generally are confined to the airport because security is so bad in Mogadishu. The U.N. has tried to push peace talks between the government and the opposition, but a recent deal with a more moderate faction of the Islamic group seems only to have worsened the violence.

Al-Shabab, the driving force behind much of the violence, denounced the talks and did not participate.

Besides near-daily fighting in the capital, foreigners, journalists and humanitarian workers are frequently abducted for ransoms in Somalia. Earlier Monday, Somali forces opened fire on kidnappers to free a German man and his Somali wife, said Muse Gelle Yusuf, governor of the northern port of Bosasso.

In Berlin, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner said the couple were doing well.

Arid, impoverished Somalia has not had a functioning government since warlords overthrew a socialist dictator in 1991 then turned their clan-based militias on each other.

___

AP Writer Elizabeth A. Kennedy contributed to this report from Nairobi, Kenya.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ransom demands for Australian's release

From correspondents in Mogadishu | September 08, 2008
The kidnappers of an Australian photographer and Canadian and Somali journalists in Somalia are demanding a $US2.5 million ($3.08 million) ransom, a traditional chief in contact with the abductors said today.

"The kidnappers demanded 2.5 million dollars and we are trying to secure their release,'' said Dahir Farah, who has been participating in negotiations to free the three abducted in Somalia last month.

Another person claiming to be an intermediary for the kidnappers spoke of the same ransom demand.

He also allowed two people claiming to be the foreign journalists to speak briefly to news wire services.

"I'm Amanda, the Canadian journalist. Our health situation is very well for the time being,'' Amanda Lindhout, a freelance foreign correspondent from the western Canadian province of Alberta, purportedly said.

A man claiming to be Nigel Geoffrey Brennan, an Australian photographer, said: "We are very well now mentally and physically.''

They were speaking from an undisclosed location.

"We need a ransom of 2.5 million dollars to free the hostages,'' the intermediary, Adan Nur Siad, said.

He said he had been in touch with representatives of the Australian police in Nairobi.

Mr Brennan and Ms Lindhout, as well as their Somali fixer, who is also a journalist, were abducted on August 23 on the road from the capital Mogadishu to Afgoye, where they intended to visit refugee camps.

Journalists and humanitarian workers are frequently abducted in Somalia, a country torn apart by unrest since 1991.

Most kidnappings include ransom demands.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Poem From Sherrie Hope

AMANDA

A Woman so strong
Which with that comes hope
Wherever you are,
We know, somehow,someway, you will cope

We all come together
with prayers and love
We know you will feel
the surrounding of our love!

A special man ( Terry) on Facebook
created a loving concern,
Now we join together,
For your safe return

Amanda, I will keep praying for you!!!!

With love

Sherrie Hope

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More Video

Video Broadcasting from Amanda

Video Broadcasting from Amanda

Video Broadcasting from Amanda

Video Broadcasting from Amanda

Information on Somalia


Government

Mogadishu has had no official government for many years now since the city was mostly controlled by various heavily-armed militias and factions. In recent years, however, the Transitional Federal Government, with the help of foreign troops, appears to have finally amassed the necessary military wherewithal to engage the militias and reestablish the rule of law.

History
Trade connected Somalis in the Mogadishu area to other communities along the Indian coast as early as the 1st century according to the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. With Muslim traders from the Arabian Peninsula arriving circa 900 AD, Mogadishu was well-suited to become a regional center for commerce. The northernmost of the East African city-states, Mogadishu prospered through trade with the interior, which spread Islam throughout Somalia. The Portuguese visited the city but never took it. In 1871 Barghash bin Said, the sultan of Zanzibar, occupied the city.

In 1892, Ali bin Said leased the city to Italy. Italy purchased the city in 1905 and made Mogadishu the capital of Italian Somaliland. The surrounding territory came under Italian control in 1936 after heavy resistance. In World War II British forces from Kenya captured Mogadishu on February 26, 1941. The British ruled until the Italian Trust Administration of Somalia (AFIS), established by the United Nations, began on 1 April 1950 to administer the former Somali colony as a protectorate to prepare it for independence. Somalia became independent on 1 July 1960 with Mogadishu as its capital.

Rebel forces entered and took the city in 1990, forcing President Mohamed Siad Barre to resign and flee in January 1991 to Lagos, Nigeria. One faction proclaimed Ali Mahdi Muhammad president, another Mohamed Farrah Aidid. A contingent of United States Marines landed near Mogadishu on December 9, 1992 to spearhead the United Nations peacekeeping forces during Operation Restore Hope.

Mogadishu was scene of bitter warfare and devastation caused by fighting between Ethiopian troops, which invaded Somalia to support a fragile government, and Islamist guerrillas. Fighting escalated in March–April 2007, November 2007 and April 2008 with hundreds of civilian casualties.


Battle of Mogadishu (November 2007)
The November 2007 Battle of Mogadishu began when dragging of mutilated bodies of Ethiopian soldiers through the streets of Mogadishu provoked a fierce and furious reaction. 91 people died in the fighting, mostly civilians killed by Ethiopian troops.

The scenes of dragged mutilated corpses is reminiscent of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, when it was done to a US soldier. The same thing occurred in early 2007 during the month long battle in Mogadishu.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Honour killings increasing By Amanda Lindhout In Iraq - July 12, 2008

2008/07/12
There has been a sharp increase in so-called “honour killings” in Iraq since 2003, as chaos and religious fundamentalism has swept the country.
If a female is suspected of being “dishonourable,” it is often considered the duty of male family members to murder her to save the family’s name.

Beheading, stoning and strangulation are the most common ways the women are killed.

Yanar Mohammed, founder of the Organization For Women’s Rights in Iraq, ceaselessly campaigns to bring attention the increase of violence against women in her homeland.


Honour Killings

They are called “honour killings,” but there is nothing honourable about them.

A terrifying development in wartorn Iraq is a dramatic increase of violent acts against women accused of bringing dishonour to their families.

Sanctioned under an article in Iraq’s criminal code, Iraqi males are permitted to murder their wives, daughters, sisters or mothers whom they suspect have defiled the family by breaking traditional rules of chastity and fidelity.

Inside the Organization for Women’s Rights in Iraq, founder Yanar Mohammed says that the chaos of war has brought about a rash of honour killings as the rise of religious fundamentalism has grown, bringing with it strict rules that women must abide by.

“As a woman in Iraq, you are sandwiched between the terrorists from the militia groups and the tribal mentality of your own family that will not accept any female who chooses to love on her own terms.”

Mohammed is passionate about empowering Iraqi women and to educating the world about this female genocide.

She left Iraq after the Gulf War and obtained Canadian citizenship in 1995. With a master’s degree in architecture, she lived and worked in Toronto until 2003.

That year, she received a call from a friend in Baghdad who told her the situation for women had deteriorated with the fall of Saddam Hussein’s secular government.

She saw a chance to help her sisters in Iraq. And despite the rising violence, Mohammed set up her first office for women’s rights in an old bank building that had been burned down.

“Our aim was to provide shelters for women, to give them another alternative to being killed.”

With some assistance provided by international women’s groups, Mohammed established a proper office in a central Baghdad neighbourhood.

Many of her 25 staff members are women she has rescued from prisons, prostitution and the streets. They fearlessly venture into the city’s most volatile neighbourhoods to get help and education to women trapped inside.

Mohammed estimates that as many as 3,000 women are killed in Iraq each year over issues of “honour.” They are commonly beheaded, strangled or stoned.

Often these acts are carried out in public.

Last year, Du’a Khalil Aswad, a pretty 17-year-old girl, was stoned to death in northern Iraq while a crowd of hundreds of men cheered and looked on.

Her crime? Falling in love with a boy of a different faith.

The stoning was filmed on a number of mobile phones, inevitably ending up on the Internet – prompting the international community to express a brief surge of interest in women’s rights in Iraq.

Still, organizations like the Organization For Women’s Rights In Iraq can barley manage to make ends meet.

They struggle with a lack of support, seriously limiting their scope of work.

The Iraqi government has refused to legalize Mohammed’s two women’s shelters, making her work dangerous from all sides.

She is still afraid to hang a sign outside their door. She speaks of police visits to their office and, on multiple occasions, having the organization’s funds frozen in bank accounts.

But she perseveres.

This year, Yanar Mohammed was the recipient of the prestigious Peter Grouper Award for working on women’s rights in a conflict zone.

“The funding that’s starting to come in supports us nine months ahead. After that, we don’t know if the project can go on,” she says.

“I don’t know that any part of our work is easy, but we are still going, and we will keep trying until we make it work.”

She has helped numerous women, taking them from dangerous environments, educating them, teaching them employable skills and eventually relocating the women in another part of Iraq.

“We tell them, there is a day you will be strong. You will be safe and you will be outspoken. That day you will want to help other women in need, because you will know, better then anyone, what is possible.”

Africa’s largest slum By Amanda Lindhout In Iraq






Published: August 16, 2008 4:00 AM The railway line snaking through Kibera becomes a highway of human activity as the first rays of morning sun begin to warm the muddy earth, signalling the start of another day in this Kenyan ghetto.

Men and women in faded but pressed suits walk the tracks into Nairobi, tentatively hopeful that today they will find a job in the city.

Groups of old men sit under tin awnings, anticipating rain.

Some have their heads in their hands.

Others just stare across the railway and out over the endless maze of shacks that make up Africa’s largest slum.

Barefoot children with distended bellies pick through mountains of garbage alongside the tracks, competing with stray dogs for the find of a half-eaten corn cob or a bone with a bit of meat.

Here, hunger is a way of life — a never forgotten pang that is all consuming. Many of these children haven’t eaten in days.

A scramble down a muddy slope, slick with human waste, leads into the most densely populated slum in the world.

More than 1.2 million people are living in haphazard, makeshift homes.

There are no sewage pipes. No services. No roads. What began as an unregulated settlement in the First World War for Nubian solders is now a veritable hell on Earth, ironically adjacent to a city booming with one of the best economies in Africa.

Solomon Akello sits inside his family’s mud hut, palms open in a gesture that resembles both despair and a form of special pleading.

His baby brother Hezron lies in a swath of dirty blankets on the floor, and 17-year-old Solomon is desperate to get the child to a hospital. Inside Kibera, government medical care is too expensive for most squatters (whose average monthly income is less then $20 a month).

The infant mortality rate is among the highest in the world.

He brushes away the determined flies that crawl into the child’s mouth and grows sadly nostalgic.

“My parents were good people. We came here two years ago from the Rift Valley because they thought there would be jobs in Nairobi.”

“They didn’t imagine that we’d be stuck in Kibera, living like animals, sick and with no help.”

Solomon slumps over in his chair when he tells that his mother and father were both killed in the politically motivated fighting that erupted in Kenya earlier this year.

The random brutality of criminal gangs claimed hundreds of lives inside Kibera as homes were set ablaze and guns appeared on every corner.

He struggles to take care of his four siblings by begging on the streets. But he hasn’t lost sight of his dream, to become a construction engineer, despite not having the money to attend school since 2005.

Beside a river of open sewage is another row of crumbling mud shacks. Parting the curtain door of one, Doreen Achieng Olale’s gaunt face appears.

A matronly woman, with a belly indicating she will soon have another baby, she has lived here for 10 years.

Olale lines up bottles of pills on a small table. This is her HIV medication, given to her each month by a group of foreign non- governmental organizations. One fifth of all HIV positive Kenyans live in Kibera. Since her husband died of AIDS two years ago, she is alone each day with her four children.

The answers to the disturbing, frightful questions that creep into the mind of anyone witnessing this kind of incomprehensible abject poverty are obvious.

“I am a prostitute,” Olale says with a kind of defensive pride. “Do I sell my body for a bag of rice so my kids don’t die? Absolutely. No one else is going to help us.”

Recently, the Kenyan government has taken small steps to upgrade the slums. One government water line is now available to residents, but at a cost few can afford.

For five cents, 20 litres of clean water can be bought from a single piped-in source. Down the road, for less then half the price, Kiberians can buy water from a private pipe.

It’s often dirty, but when every penny counts, many don’t feel they have a choice.

“No one can afford the government water. If they are trying to help us, why don’t they make it the cheapest option?” complains one man.

The overwhelming stench of human waste in Kibera is unbearable. It flows openly between the rows of homes. In other places, men roll up their pant legs and wade ankle deep through it. Children play alongside the filth.

There are only two government toilet facilities to accommodate the vast population.

A teenage boy sits up on the railway tracks watching the scene around him. Henry waits here for the next train to roll through, destined for Mombassa, a coastal city in Kenya.

“One day, I’m going to hop on the back of the train. I’m going to ride it all the way to the sea and see what the rest of the world looks like.”

Amanda Lindhout is a Red Deer journalist working for a Middle East news channel in Iraq. Contact her at amandalindhout50@gmail.com

Canadian reporter kidnapped at gunpoint in Somalia

A freelance journalist from Alberta has been abducted at gunpoint near the Somali capital of Mogadishu, her father said Saturday.

Amanda Lindhout, 27, had recently arrived in the country with an Australian friend, a man who has also been kidnapped, her father, John Lindhout, told Global National in a telephone interview from his home in Sylvan Lake, Alta.

Lindhout said his information has come from the Department of Foreign Affairs, which has been in contact with him throughout the day. By Saturday evening, the department had not yet publicly confirmed the kidnapped woman's identity.

The High Commission of Canada in Kenya is aware of news reports indicating that a Canadian and an Australian journalist are missing in Somalia," Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Eugenie Cormier-Lassonde said. "Consular officials are in contact with local authorities in an attempt to confirm these reports."

Amanda Lindhout, who has been based in Baghdad, had been on a tour through Africa to put together freelance reports for a French television network. She had been hoping to sell her stories to Canadian broadcasters, as well.

"I work with a team of professionals that I have hired locally, and I have packaged together several 2.5-min reports from Ethiopia and Kenya," Lindhout wrote to Global National in a recent e-mail. "Next week I am going to Somalia to report on the deteriorating security situation as well as the food crisis, which has affected 2.6 million there."

Lindhout started out her career as a photographer and has posted some of her work on the Internet. Since then, she has also worked in Iraq as the Baghdad correspondent for an Iranian television broadcaster, but quit in May to work as a freelancer.

The last entry on her Facebook social networking page, posted Friday, said, "Livin' it up in Mogadishu Somalia."

Since news of Lindhout's possible kidnapping broke, friend have been posting messages on her site, saying they are praying for her and praying that it's not she who has been kidnapped.

Omar Faruk Osman, secretary general of the National Union of Somali Journalists, said in an interview from Mogadishu that his organization has been in touch with the family of Lindhout's "fixer" - typically a local person who helps foreign journalists find their way around and serves as an interpreter. So far, they have been unsuccessful in pinning down details of the two Westerners' disappearance, and who may have been involved.

"They are missing," Osman said. "They were taken, diverted from their car and their fixer" about 15 kilometres outside Mogadishu.

"We know that they didn't come back to their hotel. It was supposed to have been midday and now it's almost 10 in the evening, you know, that they have been missing. . . . But we don't know who is responsible and where they are."

Somalia, torn apart by civil war since 1991, "is most dangerous, and particularly when it comes to foreign journalists," Osman said, adding they are vulnerable to attack by two distinct groups.

One group wants to send a message to the outside world that no authority is truly in control of Somalia, he explained. Kidnapping a foreign journalist, he said, helps "make a lot of noise."

The second group, he explained, doesn't want journalists to see the "conflict, suffering and violence" that prevail in Somalia, and report back on it to their audiences.

"They want to silence the journalists who are the witnesses to these things," Osman said.

In Ottawa, meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Department advises against all travel in Somalia. The travel advisory, updated July 11 but still valid now, cautions that "Canadians in this country should leave."

The advisory goes on to say that "Canadians who are in Somalia despite this warning, and who are confronted with an emergency, will have to make their way to the nearest embassy or consulate of Canada, or rely on their own resources."

Foreign Affairs also warns: "There is a high security threat in Somalia. Killings and kidnappings continue to occur in all areas of the country and there have been targeted assassinations of foreigners, including journalists, human rights activists, and humanitarian workers."

"The rule of law is virtually non-existent. Outbreaks of violence can arise unpredictably and parties involved are often armed. These violent incidents have resulted in civilian casualties."

Somalia has lacked an effective government since 1991 and Islamists are engaged in guerrilla warfare and deadly clashes with Somali government forces, Ethiopian troops and African Union peacekeepers. The abduction of journalists and humanitarian workers is common and kidnappings are often associated with ransom demands.

With files from Global National

here is some of her work i found

http://www.lightstalkers.org/amanda_lindhout