UN, international partners to step up contacts with reconciliation body in Somalia

UN, international partners to step up contacts with reconciliation body in Somalia

The United Nations and its international partners in the search for peace in Somalia plan to step up their contacts with the country’s National Reconciliation Congress in an effort to bring stability to a faction-riven land that has had no functioning central government for 16 years.

The UN led a delegation of the International Advisory Group to Mogadishu, the Somali capital, over the weekend to attend and receive an update on Congress’s ongoing work.

“The delegation expressed its intention for members of the international community to have henceforth a frequent presence at the Congress,” UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told a news briefing in New York today.

The delegation was led by the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Somalia, Per Lindgarde, and included representatives from Norway, Sweden, Italy, Yemen and Egypt.

In addition to their conversations with delegates and organizers of the Congress, the group also met with representatives of the Transitional Federal Government (TGF) and with the Hawiye Council.

Hostilities in the country flared up again last year, culminating in the expulsion from Mogadishu in December of Islamist groups by the TFG, backed by Ethiopian troops.

According to UN figures, 340,000 people, or roughly one-third of Mogadishu’s population, have fled the city in ongoing hostilities since February.