Somalia: Steps on a path to fragile peace in a shattered country
Somalia is looking at its best chance for peace in 15 years as the reconciliation process moves into a new and crucial phase and with UN poised to ramp up its humanitarian assistance. But rampant insecurity poses a steep challenge to this endeavour as most international media give the country a wide
The country that used to dominate coverage a decade ago as a
symbol of a collapsed state has been left out of media limelight lately,
although the nation is facing a crucial challenge. The ongoing fragile
reconciliation process represents Somalis’ best hope since the 1990s of
rebuilding their nation in peace. At great risk, a fledgling
government-in-exile, formed through a national conference involving most of
the rival factions, is trying to establish itself in the country from its
base in neighboring Kenya. However, rampant insecurity, fueled by arms
embargo violations and continued factional violence, poses steep challenges
to this endeavour.
The insecurity has also kept the presence of international media to a
minimum at a time when this story needs a bright light from the outside
helping to put all parties on notice that the world is watching. Greater
media exposure can also help to mobilize humanitarian aid to the country
which continues to face drought and famine in addition to the recent deaths
and damage to its coastline and fishing villages from the recent Indian
Ocean Tsunami. Meanwhile, the United Nations is providing humanitarian and
development aid as best it can under the conditions, while preparing a
stepped-up political presence that could solidify the reconciliation process
and help Somalis establish a working government. The Security Council has
welcomed the establishment of the Transitional Federal Government and has
urged the international community to lend political and economic support.
- Somalia is the only country in recent history that has endured such a
prolonged period of state collapse.
- During a recent whistle-stop tour of
the country, leaders of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) were
well-received by Somalis, but they dared not even venture into the capital,
Mogadishu, still awash with guns and gangs.
- Somalis continue to suffer from intermittent clan conflicts and recurrent droughts. The country is home
to 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 800,000 returnees.
- Although recent rains have provided some respite, four consecutive years of
drought have led to massive livestock losses. Overall, the drought has
resulted in a livelihood crisis, indebtedness and economic stagnation.
- Somalia consistently ranks among the lowest in the world on key indicators
of human development, amid high mortality and malnutrition rates.
- According to UN relief officials, top aid priorities include the delivery of
assistance in water and sanitation, health and education sectors to the most
vulnerable groups, including IDPs, returnees and minorities who represent 20
percent of the population.
For further information
UN Political Office for Somalia, Nairobi:
Babafemi Badejo, Officer-in-Charge,
Tel: (tie line): +1 212 963 3085 or
3096; +254 2 622 695; E-mail: email@example.com
UN Department of
Political Affairs (DPA):
Haile Menkerios, Director, Africa I Division,
+1 212 963 0239, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Rehana Ahmad-Haque, Desk Officer
for Somalia, Tel. +1 212 963 2502, E-mail: email@example.com