UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie appeals for safety in Somalia

A Somali woman and her children in Mogadishu making their way to safety

19 April 2010 – United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and award-winning actress Angelina Jolie is calling for more international attention and assistance for thousands of Somalis trapped in the country’s capital of Mogadishu by some of the deadliest violence to date.

“I am deeply troubled by the complete and utter disregard for human life in Somalia,” said Jolie, echoing recent calls by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres.

“I appeal to those who carry on fighting not to shell and target civilian neighbourhoods,” Jolie added.

Nearly daily fighting between Government forces and its supporters, backed by African Union peacekeepers, and Islamist rebels has killed or injured more than 900 people last month in Mogadishu.

The UN estimates that 100,000 people were displaced from or within the capital city since the beginning of the year, and more than 170,000 in total across the country.

The barrage of bullets and shelling is also limiting aid shipments and services, such as ambulances, that can access parts of Mogadishu.

With 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), some 570,000 refugees in the region and nearly 3 million people dependent on humanitarian aid, Somalia remains one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.

In a related development, the top UN official working on the situation in Somalia told Somalis living abroad today that the switch of a rebel group to the Government’s side is a promising sign.

“The move by Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a to join the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) has been a show of patriotism and dignity that demonstrates, more than any words could, the will to offer some hope to ordinary Somalis,” said Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), in his latest letter to the Somali diaspora.

The Special Representative also noted that an “offensive” to address political, security in Mogadishu and job creation is under way, with support from the European Union, the United States and the AU.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah also spoke out against a move by extremists to force 14 radio stations in Mogadishu to stop airing music.

“Intimidating and threatening the public, and the media and aid workers is not in keeping with the Somali heritage or culture and an infringement of basic human rights,” he wrote.

Representatives of some 40 countries will discuss the situation in Somalia on Wednesday at the International Contact Group meeting in Cairo, to be hosted by the League of Arab States.


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