Secretary-General Ban concerned over humanitarian impact of US air strikes in Somalia

9 January 2007

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern over the United States air strikes on Somalia, particularly their humanitarian impact, his spokesperson said today, adding that the world body is seeking more information on the attacks while also assessing the possibility of renewing emergency assistance to the strife-torn country and the thousands who need help at the border with Kenya.

“We are trying to gather more information about the military action in southern Somalia

including through the office in Nairobi of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, (Francois Lonsény Fall),” Michele Montas told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.

“Notwithstanding the motives for this reported military action, the Secretary-General is concerned about the new dimension this kind of action could introduce to the conflict and the possible escalation of hostilities that may result. He is also concerned about the impact this would have on the civilian population in southern Somalia, and regrets the reported loss of civilian lives.”

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 4,700 internally displaced persons on the border with Kenya have no access to humanitarian aid and are in critical need of food, shelter, medicine and basic supplies, Ms. Montas said.

“The UN is planning to send an assessment team to the Kenya-Somalia border on Thursday. The team will look into the possibility of re-starting humanitarian deliveries into Somalia and examine recent population movements in and around the border,” she said.

Humanitarian operations in Somalia were suspended and international staff evacuated when fighting between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) – backed by Ethiopian troops – and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) intensified late last month.

On Monday, Mr. Fall attended an African Union (AU) Peace and Security Commission meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss the situation in Somalia, and tomorrow the Security Council is due to hold consultations on the troubled Horn of Africa country, which has not had a functioning government since the regime of Muhammad Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.