Profiles: International coverage of Somalia

Kenya and Canada can boast of some of the best coverage of Somalia told by young and courageous journalists bent on investigative and independent reporting from one of the most dangerous places on earth. 

Fatuma Noor, 24, Kenyan-Somali journalist

Noor won the “2011 CNN African Journalist of the Year” award for her investigative three-part series on the Al-Shabaab in Star newspaper. The articles tell the story of the young men who give up their freedom abroad to return and fight for the Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Noor is a renowned journalist, who has won many awards in a young age. She currently works for The Observer as part of a David Astor Journalism Programme, which works to promote independent journalism in Africa.

As a Somali woman writing investigative stories, Noor faces regular threats and her own family oppose her profession. According to Noor, in Somali culture, it is wrong to speak and raise an opinion in front of men. Even travelling for work unaccompanied by a relative is not permitted.

Jay Bahadur, 27, author of “The Pirates of Somalia”

The Toronto-based freelance journalist recently published the book “The Pirates of Somalia”, which is based on three months of research in Puntland – an autonomous region of Somalia and the heart of the pirates’ tribal homeland.

For a foreigner, his access to the region was truly unique. Bahadur brilliantly juggles background stories, gossip, family ties, backroom political dealings and daily impressions of life in Somalia.

Recently, Bahadur landed the job as the Managing Editor at SomaliaReport – a Nairobi-based website with an extensive network of local journalists, which aims to be Somalia’s premiere source for non-partisan and clan-neutral news coverage.

Bashir Yusuf Osman, Somali Hotel owner

Situated in the heart of Mogadishu, the Peace Hotel serves as the accommodation of choice for most foreign journalists visiting the capital. BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera. They all come here. The hotel is like a white flag in city torn by battles between different militias.

The owner, Bashir Yusuf Osman arranges professional security teams for every journalist. The importance of having a good security team cannot be overstated in this lawless city. Several journalists have been targeted or killed in or around other Mogadishu hotels in the past.

Osman is also able to fix meetings with anyone and everyone, from the militant Shabaab fighters to local businessmen to the parliament members of the transitional government. Ironically perhaps, it is the civil war that may be the key to the success of Bashir’s business.