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Annan urges Somali factions to pursue peace

Annan urges Somali factions to pursue peace

With insecurity persisting in Somalia, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has called on the international community to back efforts to end the country's conflict, while emphasizing that its leaders hold the main responsibility for reaching this goal.

Stressing that no amount of goodwill and external support will bring peace to Somalia, the Secretary-General writes in a report released today that, “Outsiders can help, but only Somalia's leaders can decide to end the suffering of their people and only they can decide to negotiate an end to the conflict.”

Mr. Annan underscores concern about the proliferation of arms in Somalia, and calls for efforts to disarm and reintegrate Somali youths. He urges concerted international action to end the impunity with which armed groups continue to harass humanitarian and development agencies, causing further suffering to civilians and communities. He also calls on the authorities to ensure that aid workers are able to perform their tasks without fear of harm or any form of harassment.

While hailing the fact that many of the 400,000 Somalis in exile have begun to return home with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Secretary-General warns of the large gap between the needs of returnees and their potential opportunities. “Unless this issue is resolved, the return of exiled populations is likely to continue to constrain the recovery process,” he cautions.

Calling international funding for Somalia “disappointing,” the Secretary-General appeals to countries to generously support humanitarian and recovery efforts for the country.