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UN Calls On Somalis to Pull Together to Help Those Suffering

UN Envoy Calls On All Somalis to Pull Together to Help Those Suffering

New York, Aug 3 2011 - A senior United Nations official today appealed to all Somalis, both inside and outside the country, to work together to support the ongoing peace process and alleviate the plight of those suffering from famine, while pledging the world body’s continued support in the coming days.

“This is a time of great crisis, but also of rare opportunity. It is a time for everyone to pull together to help those suffering and to work towards a better future for all,” Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, said in a letter addressed to the Somali diaspora.

“I appeal to all those who are able – Somalis and the international community alike – to give as much as they can during this Holy Month to feed the hungry, heal the sick and prevent the famine spreading further,” he stated, referring to the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan that began on Monday.

Drought in the Horn of Africa has ravaged large areas of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, leaving an estimated 12.4 million people in need of humanitarian aid. Earlier this week, the UN warned that the famine in two areas of southern Somalia could spread to five or six more regions unless there is a massive and immediate response from the international community.

The world body has also been stressing the need for a comprehensive and inclusive strategy to restore peace and stability in Somalia, which has not had a fully functioning national government and has been wracked by factional warfare since 1991.

Mr. Mahiga noted that despite recent progress on the political front, one of the contributing factors to the famine has been the ongoing fighting in the country. Some of the extremists are continuing their efforts to intimidate the population by preventing the movement of people from the worst-hit areas, he said.

“We call for the humanitarian agencies to be given unhindered access to all areas to provide desperately needed help,” he wrote, adding that the insecurity in many areas means that aid workers take huge risks to make their life-saving deliveries.

Turning to the political front, Mr. Mahiga said it is a “hopeful moment,” citing the Kampala Accord reached in June that broke the deadlock that had paralyzed the peace process.

Under the deal reached in the Ugandan capital, the term of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and that of the Transitional Federal Parliament, which were due to expire this month, were extended for another year.

The President and the Speaker of Parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, pledged to work together during the interim one-year period to implement priority tasks, in accordance with a road map to be agreed with timelines and benchmarks.

Mr. Mahiga said the most pressing concern is the adoption of the road map with priority given to the finalization of the draft constitution.

“The UN will, of course, do its part,” he pledged, adding that it is helping to draft the road map as part of a collaborative effort headed by the Somali leadership with inputs from various partners.

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

ENDS

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