Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Somalia Deserves as Much Support as Iraq or Afghanistan

The United Nations envoy for Somalia called on international partners to help advance peace, stability and national reconciliation in the Horn of Africa nation, noting that it will take a level of support not unlike that given to other nations that were suffering from tremendous strife.  “We have all seen how the international community has rallied behind the Governments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Somalia is no exception; it requires similar massive interventions,” said Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia.

Addressing a meeting in Madrid of the International Contact Group for Somalia, Mr. Mahiga stressed that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the international community must work closely together if Somalia is to emerge from the present crisis.  The country – which has not had a functioning central government since 1991 and has been torn apart by decades of conflict and factional strife, more recently with al-Shabaab Islamic militants – is also facing a dire humanitarian crisis in which 3.2 million people, more than 40 per cent of the population, is in need of aid.

Mr. Mahiga noted that this week's meeting comes at a crucial time, with less than a year left before the end of the transitional period that ends next August. Several tasks remain to be completed such as continuing initiatives on reconciliation, building civilian and security institutions and the completion of the constitution-making process.  The two pressing and interlinked challenges facing the TFG right now, he said, are political and security.

“Tasks leading to the completion of the transitional period can only be achieved if a secure and stable environment is established. Likewise, we will not achieve minimum stability in the country unless we make substantive progress on the political front.”  The envoy said he looked forward to a speedy appointment of a new prime minister, following the resignation last week of Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, as well as to a more united and cohesive TFG.

A mini-summit on Somalia held at UN Headquarters last week also called on the TFG to end its differences and deliver basic services. In addition, it urged the international community to do much more to support efforts to bring peace to the faction-torn country, including by providing increased financial support for the African Union Mission in Somalia and the development of the Somali security forces.  The International Contact Group for Somalia brings together more than 35 nations and organizations to consider concrete measures to support the struggling nation.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

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