15 March 2010 The top United Nations envoy to Somalia today welcomed the signing of a peace agreement between the Government and a rebel group, reiterating that the war-ravaged Horn of Africa nation is transitioning from a “failed to a fragile State.”
The pact to cooperate fully towards peace and reconciliation was signed between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the group known as Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a at the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
According to the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), it is also in the spirit of the 2008 Djibouti Agreement, a peace accord between the TFG and Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) that was meant to pave the way for the cessation of all armed conflict across the troubled country.
The new pact follows a declaration signed last June between the Government and Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a in Nairobi under the UN’s aegis.
“I congratulate the signatories for reaching an agreement in the interest of the Somali people and the nation, in the interest of their dignity and towards peace in the region,” said Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.
The new pact is a signal that “things can and are changing in Somalia,” he added.
The envoy voiced optimism that rapprochement among Somalis will be stepped up, as the “old barrier built against stability in Somalia is slowly being brought down.”
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported earlier this year that clashes between Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a and a rival militia group, Al Shabaab, killed or injured more than 150 people and uprooted thousands in central Somalia.
Last week, the agency expressed its deep concern for the safety of more than 8,000 people trapped in the capital, Mogadishu, by clashes which have uprooted more than 100,000 people since the start of the year.
Some 8,300 people who do not have the means to get out of the capital remain displaced in Mogadishu, according to UNHCR.
“As the fighting rages on, aid agencies cannot access and assist these extremely vulnerable IDPs [internally displaced persons],” agency spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.
Characterizing the clashes in both the capital and other parts of the Horn of Africa nation as “relentless and indiscriminate,” UNHCR said the situation for civilians continues to deteriorate.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue