UN to return to Somalia within two months

The United Nations and foreign missions and organisations will move back inside Somalia within two months after an absence of more than 17 years, a senior UN official said on Sunday.

Most embassies, foreign charitable organisations and the United Nations itself have been based in Nairobi because of security concerns in most of Somalia and near-daily gun battles and mortar attacks in the capital, Mogadishu.

The UN left Somalia in 1993 and most embassies withdrew years earlier.

Augustine Mahiga, the UN special representative for the Horn of Africa country, said a decision to relocate senior staff to Somalia had been taken by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

The organisation also hoped to establish presences in the breakaway Somali republic of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous enclave of Puntland, he said.

“We are going to transfer embassies and agencies based in Nairobi to Somalia, and our targets are three. First is Puntland, second is Somaliland and third is Mogadishu,” Mahiga told a news a conference attended by Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke at the UN headquarters in Nairobi.

He said the move would take place within 60 days and the UN was recruiting staff in Somalia and Nairobi in preparation.

An increase in the African Union peace force in Somalia to 8 100 would improve security for the move, he added.

The AU boosted its troop numbers in Somalia after 76 people were killed in Uganda last month in suicide attacks by the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab.

Increasing the strength of Amisom force from 6 200 to the overall of 8 100 will improve and enhance security to create space for the deployment of United Nations and the international community,” Mahiga said.

The Tanzanian diplomat said the UN Support Office for Amisom is already completing 14 facilities that could accommodate staff at a safe zone near Mogadishu airport.

There was still a security risk in Mogadishu, he said, “and we are going to take much more cautious approach, but the decision to deploy there is being made”.

He said some countries, agencies and partner programmes were already established in parts of Somalia.

The Somali government has been urging the agency to reconsider its withdrawal for some time.

Somalia has had no effective central authority since 1991, and its Transitional Federal Government controls only a small section of the capital.

It is seen by human rights groups as the worst place in Africa for humanitarian workers, journalists and activists who have been targeted in the past three year by militant groups.

Last year, al Shabaab expelled UN agencies and international organisations from the southern and central Somalia which it controlled, accusing them of espionage and looting their premises and seizing computers. – Reuters

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Abdiaziz Hassan
Abdiaziz Hassan works from Minneapolis, MN. former Thomson Reuters correspondent for Somalia, is the business editor of Somali Current. Abdiaziz Hassan has over 292 followers on Twitter.
Advertisting

Test backlog skews SA’s corona stats

With thousands of samples still waiting to be processed, labs are racing to ramp up testing to help the government gain a better idea of how prevalent Covid-19 really is

M&G’s latest Covid-19 projections

Covid-19 numbers are prompting disaster declarations and dramatic action across South Africa this week. All steps should be directed by numbers

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories