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Latest Deadly Attack In Somali Capital

UN Officials Deplore Latest Deadly Attack In Somali Capital

New York, Dec 3 2009 6:10PM Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has led United Nations condemnation of today’s suicide attack at a graduation ceremony for medical students in Somalia’s war-scarred capital, Mogadishu, which has claimed at least 15 lives.

According to media reports, the victims include three cabinet ministers of the Transitional Federal Government, graduating students and journalists, while another government official has been severely wounded.

“This attack could only strengthen the determination of the Somali Government and people and their partners to persist in their efforts to fight terrorism,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

The incident also emphasizes the urgency of the international community’s acceleration of its pledged support to both Somali security institutions and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), he noted, expressing his deepest sympathies for the victims’ families, the Government and people of the Horn of Africa nation.

The Security Council is meeting this afternoon in New York to discuss the attack.

Despite the signing of peace agreements, the formation of a new Government and the election of a new president, Somalia has experience a resurgence of violence this year, including in Mogadishu, which has forced hundreds of thousands form their homes.

The United Nations joined forces with the European Union (EU), the InterGovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the League of Arab States, Norway and the United States today to speak out against today’s “cowardly acts of terrorism” in the capital.

“The horrific attack is another demonstration of the extremists’ complete disregard for human life,” according to the joint statement.

That graduating medical students, who are Somalia’s future doctors, were attacked is especially “egregious,” it stressed.

“These desperate acts, however, will not deter the international community from continuing its support to the Somali Government and the Somali people who are working to restore peace and stability in Somalia,” the group said.

It also pointed out that the deaths of two journalists in the attack bring to eight the total number of media professionals killed in Somalia this year to eight.

For his part, Shamsul Bari, the UN’s Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the country, called for a nationwide grassroots effort to prevent this kind of attack from occurring again.

“One of the greatest tragedies of the prolonged crisis in Somalia has been that several generations have been deprived of education,” he said. “This attack… is a direct blot to the fabric – and the future – of the nation.”

Mr. Bari appealed to all Somalis to “make it clear they condemn in the strongest manner this atrocious act, which is unacceptable and unjustifiable under any circumstances, and to do what they can to help prevent any more atrocities of this type from taking place, as well as to bring those responsible to justice.”

In a related development, Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for the country, launched a $689 million humanitarian appeal for 2010.

The funds will go towards 174 projects from 14 UN agencies and 57 international and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to respond to urgent needs in Somalia.

Low funding was a key concern last year, and Mr. Bowden underlined that “early funding will be absolutely crucial to provide humanitarian assistance in time.”

He warned that without commitments from donors from the start of 2010, aid for nearly 4 million Somalis “will be delayed and lives will be at greater risk.”

ENDS

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