• AP

    Resilience

    ‘In My Mind, I Was Always Free’

    Amanda Lindhout talks about her memoir, ‘A House in the Sky,’ and her 460 days of captivity as the hostage of Somali militants.

    In 2008, a 27-year-old Canadian freelancer named Amanda Lindhout and her Aussie photog ex-boyfriend, Nigel Brennan, crossed into Somalia seeking stories from the frontlines of the world's most war-torn and desolate failed state. En route to visit a camp for displaced people, the two were kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalists—a case, it turned out, of mistaken identity, and one that led to a nightmarish 460 days in captivity for the pair as their captors sought to ransom them for millions. The two endured unspeakable atrocities, yet managed to transcend the horrors through immense resilience and compassion. Now, Lindhout and co-author Sara Corbett have brought the story of the abduction to life in an elegant and wrenching memoir, A House in the Sky. Lindhout spoke to The Daily Beast about survival, Somalia, and starting a foundation to give the country’s next generation a better chance.

    The Daily Beast: Why did you decide to tell your story now and what compelled you to partner with Sara Corbett to write the book?

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  • British hostage Judith Tebbutt in the outskirts of Adado town in central Somalia on March 21, 2012. (STR/AFP/Getty)

    Lawless Lands

    ‘My Resistance Was Useless’

    Judith Tebbutt recounts her six-month ordeal as a hostage of Somali pirates, and when her husband lost his life trying to protect her.

    Judith Tebbutt, a 56-year old British social worker, wouldn’t know at the time that her long walk home began almost as soon as she and her husband, David, touched down on a grassy airstrip on the northern Kenya coast on September 10, 2011.

    The couple had been vacationing in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and planned to wind up their vacation with a weeklong stay at Kiwayu Safari Village, a starkly beautiful beach resort 25 miles south of the Somali border that offered "barefoot luxury" to its mostly well-heeled clients.

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  • Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    Trouble in England

    Justine Greening on the Defensive

    After Somali aid supplies worth thousands of dollars were stolen on her department’s watch.

    Britain’s Department for International Development has come under fire after it was discovered that approximately $742,500 worth of U.K.-sponsored aid supplies, owned by Unicef, were stolen from Somali warehouses. The thefts, which took place between November 2011 and February 2012 and were carried out by the militant group Al-Shabab, were the subject of a recent BBC radio interview with international development secretary Justine Greening. She claimed the thefts highlighted the “incredibly challenging conditions” her department faces, but didn’t mention the fact that the incident occurred during the worst famine in 25 years, which left an estimated quarter of a million people dead. The thefts have given ammunition to critics, who claim that the incident shows how incompetent the British government can be.

    Read it at The Guardian
  • Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

    Somalia

    New Assault on Hawa Abdi’s Camp

    Soldiers have destroyed a fence meant to protect the Nobel Peace Prize nominee’s displaced-persons camp—and residents fear further violence.

    While Somalia appears to be experiencing an era of unprecedented optimism— celebrated as a “moment of hope” this week by António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, as he visited the capital city of Mogadishu—life for the internally displaced people living 20 miles away continues to be shaken by fear and intimidation.

    On Monday representatives of the regional government of Lafoole surrounded the displaced-persons camp managed for 23 years by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Hawa Abdi. The officials ordered Abdi's daughters, Deqo Mohamed and Amina Mohamed, to pay $100,000 or cease construction of a large fence meant to protect the compound, which includes a school and a 400-bed hospital. (The exact location of the fence is on a contested piece of land illegally seized in February 2012 by the al Qaeda–backed militant group Al Shabab and returned to Dr. Abdi, after a series of court hearings, last fall.)

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  • Somali women clap during a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the withdrawal of terror group Al-Shabab from Mogadishu at Konis Stadium in the north of the Somali capital on August 6, 2012. (Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty)

    HUMANITARIAN

    Sisters Fight for Somali Women

    Documentary follows their struggle.

    Asha Hagi Elmi and her sister Amina founded Saving Somali Women and Children (SSWC) with the goal of helping people in the refugee camps of Mogadishu, Somalia, where tens of thousands of people are living after fleeing drought, famine, and violence. Al Jazeera followed the sisters and their attempt to distribute food, clothing, and medicine to refugees. In a country that has been at war for the last 20 years, even a basic kit with sanitary products and a headscarf is a blessing. Armed men still roam the destroyed streets, but SSWC hopes to bring a little peace to such an unstable place. 

    Read it at Al Jazeera
  • Somali refugees wait at the entrance to the registration area of the IFO refugee camp which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement on July 24, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya. (Oli Scarff/Getty)

    True Grit

    War Took Her Leg, But Not Her Spirit

    Somalia's Dehabo Hassan Maow faced grueling challenges as a disabled teen refugee—and now she's working to help other girls carve out a fighting chance.

    At just 14 years old, Dahabo Hassan Maow was caught in the crossfire of her native Somalia’s civil war and injured so gravely that doctors were forced to amputate her leg at the knee. With no family (she was orphaned as a baby) or support, she fled her homeland, traveling by unpaved road to what she hoped would be the relative safety of Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, in Kenya.

    But even greater challenges awaited upon her arrival. “I use crutches, so if I was able to stand in line for food, I couldn’t carry it back to where I was living,” Dahabo recalls. “I couldn’t fetch water for myself.” In the event that she found someone to help her transport her share of food back to her makeshift home, she still lacked the firewood needed to cook it. “I thought it was only me,” she said, “but I saw a lot of disabled people who didn’t have any help, who were going through the same problems.”

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  • Somali Dr. Hawa Abdi accepts her Fern Holland award during the Vital Voices Global Awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington on April 2, 2013. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty, NICHOLAS KAMM)

    Entrepreneurship

    "We Are Past The Mode Of War"

    Somalia's Dr. Hawa Abdi and Steve Felice of Dell speak about the importance of investing in women in emerging markets.

    At the close of the Clinton Global Initiative University this past weekend, former president Bill Clinton told Stephen Colbert that the one lingering problem he’d most like to tackle is "the disparity in treatment between boys and girls and women and men." Earlier in the day, two leaders from seemingly unrelated worlds—Dr. Hawa Abdi, a co-host of the 2013 Women in the World Summit, who has provided refuge to more than 100,000 displaced people since the start of Somalia’s civil war, and Steve Felice, president and chief commercial officer of Dell—took part in a panel, moderated by Chelsea Clinton, that addressed this very issue. Afterwards, Abdi and her daughter Deqo Mohamed sat down with Felice, bringing together the worlds of a remote displaced person’s camp and big tech to connect on common goals—and shared challenges.

    Sarah J. Robbins: You’ve established initiatives that seem very different but that each promote women’s entrepreneurship. Dr. Abdi and Deqo, your foundation has a Women’s Education Center. Why, with the many needs in Somalia, have you chosen to do this?

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  • Mohamed Abdiwahab Hajiabikar/AFP/Getty, AFP

    Women's Rights

    Somalia Outrage: Jail for Reporting Rape

    In a case provoking an international outcry, Somalia has sentenced to jail a woman who reported being raped by soldiers, along with a journalist who spoke to her about the attack.

    “Rape is perhaps the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused,” wrote Freda Adler in her seminal 1975 book, Sisters in Crime: The Rise of the New Female Criminal.

    The phrase proved to be particularly true earlier this week in Somalia, where a court sentenced a 27-year-old woman—who was allegedly raped by government soldiers—to a year in prison for speaking to a local journalist about the case.

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