10 June 2009 An international gathering on Somalia, chaired by the United Nations, wrapped up today with a call for stepped up support for the Horn of Africa nation, whose capital has been the scene of intense fighting in recent weeks.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the two-day meeting of the 33-member International Contact Group on Somalia (ICG) in Rome, the body also condemned “the recent attempt by extremist armed opposition groups to overthrow the legal, legitimate and internationally recognised Somali Government.”
Noting the financial and logistical contributions made to date by the international community, the Group, chaired by Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, appealed for these funds to be disbursed and used expeditiously to provide a boost to the capabilities of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Today’s communiqué also welcomed “the commitment made by the Transitional Government of Somalia to achieve political stability in Somalia through an inclusive process,” urging the authorities to “complete the process of national reconciliation by reaching out to those who have yet to support and engage in the process.”
At the ICG meeting yesterday, Mr. Ould-Abdallah said that “the time has come, and it is long overdue, to initiate a new approach to the crisis.”
He noted that “billions of [United States] dollars have been spent for or in that country over the past 10 years. Still we have a crisis. This is not a good investment of your tax payers; money.”
In the new approach he proposed, state institutions need to be restarted; the army and police should be rebuilt; the Central Bank needs to be helped; and “impunity must be addressed and human rights violators, including those who kill and kidnap journalists and aid workers, condemned.”
Also yesterday, the UN refugee agency that thousands of families fled from the capital, Mogadishu, over the weekend to escape “some of the heaviest and bloodiest street battles” since violence erupted between Government forces and the opposition Al-Shabaab and Hisb-ul-Islam groups in early May.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that over 117,000 people have been displaced in recent weeks in the capital.
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