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New UN envoy for Somalia arrives in region, urging efforts to rebuild country

New UN envoy for Somalia arrives in region, urging efforts to rebuild country

SRSG Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah
The new United Nations envoy for Somalia has arrived in the region with a call to the conflict-torn country’s political, business and religious elite both at home and abroad to rebuild a nation that has not had a functioning central government for 16 years.

“The humanitarian and human rights situations, the worst on the continent, are unacceptable,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, who until this month headed the UN Office in West Africa. “Somalis are a great people with a long history, sharing the same culture, language and religion. Few countries in Africa can claim such an advantageous inheritance.

“Somalia does not deserve to be an international case study on how to manage conflict. On the contrary, it should become again a responsible and active member of the regional and international community.”

He called on the elite to rise beyond personnel and other short-term considerations, and to come together to rebuild the country. “Somalis should find in their long history the strength and courage to consolidate the process that will lead to renewed unity and pride,” he said.

This week, Mr. Ould Abdallah will meet with the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and listen “to all Somalis without any preconceived ideas or views.”

Hostilities in the Horn of Africa country flared up again last year, culminating in the expulsion in December from Mogadishu, the capital, of Islamist groups by the TFG, backed by Ethiopian troops. Since then hundreds of thousands of people have been uprooted by continued fighting.

According to recent UN figures, 340,000 people, or roughly one-third of Mogadishu’s population, have fled the city.