UN envoy spotlights regional and global impact of Somalia conflict

12 August 2010

Last month’s deadly twin bombings which struck the Ugandan capital, allegedly carried out by a Somali-based militant group, underscore how the effects of the long-running conflict in Somalia are spreading beyond its borders, the top United Nations envoy to the troubled Horn of African nation said today.

The group known as Al-Shabaab reportedly claimed responsibility for the attacks in Kampala, which killed claimed more than 70 lives among Ugandans and people of other nationalities as they were watching the final match of the soccer World Cup.

Expressing his condolences for the families of the victims and to all Ugandans, Augustine P. Mahiga, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative, wrote in a letter to the Somali diaspora that the July attacks “further [confirm] the regional and international ramifications of the conflict.”

The country, he said, is already high on the agendas of organizations, such as the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which have issued decisions recently calling for decisive action in tackling the crisis in Somalia.

“The Kampala tragedy has heightened international attention and concern,” Mr. Mahiga pointed out.

The Special Representative, who recently replaced Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah in the post, said that his key priorities for Somalia are “reconciliation which rests on dialogue, political inclusiveness, public security, humanitarian action and reconstruction,” all priorities which he believes are mutually reinforcing.

The past month has witnessed strides made towards drawing up a constitution, one of the key tasks of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), he said in his first letter to the diaspora in his new role.

The consultation process to draft the document is officially set to start soon, allowing Somalis both inside and outside the country to make comments on the text.

“This will be a unique opportunity for Somalis to shape their destiny,” the official wrote.

While the security situation in Somalia generates much concern, he stressed the importance of building public institutions and facilitating the delivery of basic services.

“There can be no doubt that areas such as education, health, water and sanitation remain critical to the Somali people in their daily well-being,” he emphasized, highlighting the role that the diaspora can play in improving the situation in these areas.

“In partnership with all those who support the peace process, you in the diaspora can ensure that the existing prospects for peace are harnessed into tangible outcomes – better security and improved conditions for the long-suffering Somali people,” Mr. Mahiga said in his letter.

Earlier this week, the Special Representative voiced hope that the increased representation of the UN Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS) will help to further the peace process in the country.

The office, which is headed by Mr. Mahiga, has been based in Nairobi due to security concerns.

Within the next few months, UNPOS will have increased numbers of both international and national staff in Garowe and Hargeisa in the self-declared autonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland, respectively, to join national staff already on the ground, he said.


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