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UN Official Calls for More International Support for Somalia


A senior U.N. official is calling on donors to help people who have been displaced by 15 years of warfare in Somalia and are living in conditions he says are among the worst he has seen in Africa.

U.N. Special Advisor On Displacement Dennis McNamara described to reporters what he and his delegation witnessed during a recent week-long trip to visit displaced people in various parts of Somalia.

"Their conditions in the so-called settlements in the camps are sub-standard in every respect," he said. "They do not have the basic amenities that they should have. They do not have water, sanitation, health, education, or proper protection. And that is a shameful situation that we all need to address."

The displacement chief said that of the $330 million that the United Nations and aid agencies were asking for in their consolidated appeal for Somalia, donors had given only 40-percent of that amount, mostly in food aid.

McNamara called for the United Nations and international aid agencies to send more people into Somalia and set up and fund more programs in the war-torn country, particularly in the areas of health, education, and agriculture.

On the thorny issue of safety for aid workers going into the volatile nation, the U.N. official said it was up to the transitional Somali government, in conjunction with the U.N. Security Council, to stop the fighting and take up its responsibilities towards making Somalia safe and secure and to care for those displaced by the conflict.

Since civil war broke out in 1991, militias loyal to clan and sub-clan-based factions have controlled different parts of the country, with no central authority to provide law and order or even basic services to the population.

Following a two-year peace process in Kenya, a transitional government was formed more than a year ago, but has been plagued by in-fighting and an inability to stop the conflict.

Fierce fighting between militias aligned to the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism and the Islamic Court Union has rocked the capital Mogadishu in recent weeks.

The fighting has killed more than 300 people and injured hundreds of others.

McNamara described the effect that the fighting has had on the rest of the country.

"We saw newly-displaced people in Bossaso from Mogadishu fighting last week, we saw newly-displaced people in Merka in the south [who] had walked or come on trucks down from Mogadishu last week, and there has been more than 2,000 refugees from Somalia into Kenya in the past month or so," said McNamara.

He added that the Mogadishu fighting, which has displaced an estimated seven-thousand people, has worsened the desperate conditions of those who fled Somalia's warfare over the years.

The United Nations estimates that there are up to 400,000 internally-displaced Somalis who need humanitarian aid and protection.

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