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Somalia: Recent Developments Give Reason For Hope

Somalia: recent developments reason for hope despite challenges - Ban Ki-Moon

18 July 2008 - Last month's peace agreement between the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) and an opposition group is an important step towards peace, but the country's deteriorating security situation is a matter of serious concern, according to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"Somalia remains a challenge for the international community, but recent developments provide reason to hope,' Mr. Ban said in his latest quarterly report to the Security Council.

Under the recent peace accord, the TFG and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia agreed to end their conflict and called on the UN to deploy an international stabilization force to the troubled Horn of Africa country, which has not had a functioning government since 1991.

"The key challenge now is in its implementation. I call on both parties to adhere to the terms of the agreement, in particular with regard to the cessation of hostilities and the facilitation of humanitarian access," the Secretary-General said.

Noting the additional assistance requested by the Somali Prime Minister to support police reform, Mr. Ban welcomed the recent efforts by international partners under the auspices of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) to establish a security sector framework.

On the humanitarian front, the Secretary-General said that the delivery of basic social services had virtually collapsed in most parts of the country. "Humanitarian conditions have taken a dramatic turn for the worse owing to the ongoing conflict, increasing food prices, a deepening drought that has hit a wide swathe of central Somalia, a poor start to the rainy season and increasing civil insecurity."

The number of people in need of aid had risen to 2.6 million, representing 35 per cent of the population, Mr. Ban stressed, adding that attacks on the aid community were on the increase, with 15 aid workers killed so far this year after being directly targeted by various groups.

"The deteriorating security situation in Somalia continues to be a matter of serious concern, with an alarmingly high rate of civilian casualties," the Secretary-General said. He condemned all acts of violence against civilians including attacks against journalists and African Union peacekeepers.

Mr. Ban said he was very alarmed at what he described as the culture of impunity in Somalia, adding that human rights of Somalis were being violated every day. "Civilians, in particular women and children, are bearing the brunt of the conflict."

The Secretary-General also noted with grave concern the recent spate of piracy in Somali territorial waters, saying there had been 14 incidents of piracy as of mid-July in 2008. He commended the efforts made by Denmark, France and the Netherlands in providing military escorts for humanitarian vessels.


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