Stepped-up action needed to spur Somali economic growth and peace: UN

31 March 2008

A meeting hosted by the United Nations and the World Bank wrapped up over the weekend, with participants underscoring the need for stepped-up local and international involvement to spur economic growth and bring a durable peace to Somalia.

Participants at the high-level gathering on “Financial and Economic Issues in Somalia” – which took place from 28-29 March in Nairobi, Kenya – discussed the resilience of the Horn of Africa nation’s economy, the potential for growth and finance and debt issues, among others.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdullah characterized the gathering as “an important and constructive step towards helping Somalia return to peace and stability.”

Attendees included Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya and Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wegangula, as well as representatives from the World Bank, African Development Bank and other groups.

The meeting ended with the agreement that a further meeting should be held on the economy of Somalia – which has not had a functioning government in nearly two decades – as well as a development and reconstruction conference.

Meanwhile, insecurity is growing in many parts of south-central Somalia, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with clashes between Ethiopian/Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces and anti-government elements escalating over the past week.

In the capital, Mogadishu, OCHA reported that the worst fighting took place during the weekend at a market where an unconfirmed number of people were killed and over 40 others treated for injuries.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) noted that at least 4,000 people have been forced to flee the violence in Mogadishu in the past 10 days, bring the total of those having left the capital to 70,000 since the start of the year.

OCHA voiced concern over the looting of World Food Programme (WFP) trucks in Mogadishu, apparently at the prompting of a Commissioner who publicly stated that people should take food by force from passing UN trucks. Almost all of the food has been recovered, but OCHA said that it is troubled that senior government officials are encouraging and fuelling such incidents.

 

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