UN envoy welcomes news of Al-Shabaab vacating Somali capital

Special Representative Augustine Mahiga. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

6 August 2011 – The United Nations envoy for Somalia today welcomed the news that the Islamic insurgent group Al-Shabaab has begun to leave the capital, Mogadishu, and called on the strife-torn Horn of Africa nation's government to use the opportunity to ensure aid delivery to civilians in need.

“There is no doubt that the departure of Al-Shabaab would be a positive development and a step in the right direction for a city that has seen so much misery and devastation,” said Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia.

He said the armed group has already vacated key strategic points throughout the capital, including Baakara Market.

“I am very pleased to learn of the progress made over the last several days on the security situation in Mogadishu,” he stated in a news release.

“But as we look forward, it is important that we acknowledge that real security risks, including from terrorist attacks, remain and must not be underestimated,” he added.

Fighting between Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Al-Shabaab militants had already uprooted tens of thousands of people in Mogadishu before the current humanitarian crisis began. Ongoing insecurity and drought, as well as famine in parts of southern Somalia, have caused a massive influx of starving adults and children into the city in the past two months.

“The immediate priority must now be to focus on the humanitarian situation and I call on all parties, from the donor community to all parts of the Transitional Federal Government, to do everything possible to ensure and facilitate the immediate delivery of assistance to those most in need,” Mr. Mahiga stressed.

He also called on the TFG to use this opportunity to do everything in its power to assist and protect civilians.

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