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Ban Ki-moon Sounds Alarm On Mogadishu Violence

Ban Ki-moon sounds alarm on violence in Somali capital

21 April 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced deep concern over this weekend's heavy fighting in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, and deplored the substantial number of civilian deaths and injuries that have been suffered.

In a statement, Mr. Ban "urges parties to the conflict in Mogadishu to refrain from the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force that endangers the lives of civilians, particularly in heavily populated civilian areas, and reminds them that any targeting of non-combatants is a violation of international law."

Also condemning the weekend clashes, the top United Nations envoy to the war-ravaged Horn of Africa nation - which has not had a functioning national government and has been riven by factional fighting since Muhammad Siad Barre's regime was toppled in 1991 - characterized the violence as "senseless."

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, underscored that the innocent are the victims of the fighting, which would only make achieving reconciliation and reconstruction more difficult.

"It is unjustifiable for such violence to erupt particularly when both the Transitional Federal Government [TFG] and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia have courageously expressed their willingness to talk about peace and reconciliation," he said in a press release issued in Nairobi.

Last month, the TFG announced that it is ready to enter into discussions with the opposition.

"I once again appeal to everyone to accelerate efforts to restore stability and unity and stop the violence which is bringing only misery and destruction to the people of Somalia," Mr. Ould-Abdallah said.

Earlier this month, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that the country's humanitarian situation is deteriorating faster than expected, owing to an unusually harsh dry season, rising insecurity and soaring inflation rates.

OCHA revised upwards the number of those living in a state of humanitarian emergency from 315,000 to 425,000, and the number of newly displaced people from 705,000 to 745,000.

As of the end of March, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that 70,000 people have fled the violence in Mogadishu since the start of 2008.

ENDS

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