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UN committed to helping Somalia draw up new constitution

UN committed to helping Somalia draw up new constitution

After a call from the Somali Prime Minister for help in drawing up a new constitution, a United Nations official today said the world body is committed to providing assistance for the process.

At the start of talks on constitution-making yesterday in Baidoa, in southern Somalia, Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein urged the Horn of Africa nation’s politicians to “do their utmost” with the support of the UN.

“We would like to ensure that the process promotes reconciliation, peace and stability through an inclusive and participatory process for all regions of Somalia,” said Mark Bowden, the UN Resident Coordinator for the country, which has not had a functioning government since 1991.

According to Somalia’s 2004 Charter, the constitution-making process must be completed within the next six months.

The UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) noted that these efforts are key in restoring stability and peace, adding that they complement the work of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and other Somali groups to promote reconciliation.

On the humanitarian front, the UN reported that attacks on aid workers – including murders and kidnappings – are on the rise, particularly in central and southern Somalia, hindering relief operations. This year, 12 aid workers have been killed in the country.

On 17 May, the head of the office of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Horn Relief was killed in Kismayo, bringing the total number of killings of relief workers so far this year to three in the south-western town alone.

The security situation is deteriorating further in South Central and Juba regions due to criminal attacks targeting civilians and clashes between armed groups, while clan fighting and intensified anti-government attacks have forced many to flee in the south.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has doubled its estimates of food requirements for the period from August 2008 to March 2009 to over 540,000 tons. During that time, the agency plans to feed some 2 million people monthly.