Residents in Mogadishu, Somalia say they fear the apparent murder of
the director of the U.N. Development Program there may cause aid groups
to further scale down their operations and deepen the country's
humanitarian crisis. As VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu reports from our
East Africa Bureau in Nairobi, a string of targeted attacks against
humanitarian workers in Somalia is also threatening a peace accord.
resident Aden Abdullahi Mahdi says Somali communities are mourning the
death of Osman Ali Ahmed, a Somali national who was killed by unknown
gunmen late Sunday as he left a mosque with his son and brother in
Ahmed was shot at close-range several times in the head and chest. His brother was also shot and seriously wounded.
are very sorry because the people, they are starving very badly," Mahdi
said. "The people are suffering. But we cannot stop the killings.
All we can say is we are very, very, very sad about such killings,
The attack follows last month's kidnapping of
another top U.N. official in Mogadishu. The head of the U.N. refugee
agency in the Somali capital, Hassan Mohamed Ali, was abducted from his
home on June 21. Nine days later, a local aid worker helping U.N.
agencies distribute food to internally displaced people was gunned down
near Mogadishu's main Bakara market in what witnesses say was a
In a statement to the media, the U.N.
Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden said
Sunday's killing was, in his words, "particularly outrageous and
worrying at this critical time, when the need for humanitarian
assistance is rapidly increasing."
Nearly three million Somalians
are estimated to be facing hunger because of insecurity, a prolonged
drought, high inflation, and food shortages. The situation is
especially critical in Mogadishu and the surrounding areas, where an
Islamist-led insurgency against the country's secular Ethiopia-backed
government and Ethiopian troops has been raging for nearly 19 months.
last month, the government signed a peace deal with a moderate faction
of the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, also known
as ARS. The deal, signed in Djibouti, gave both sides one month to
implement a cease-fire and called for the replacement of Ethiopian
troops by a U.N. force within the next four months.
hardliners in the alliance and a militant Islamist group called the
Shabab have vehemently opposed the deal. That has prompted speculation
among some Somalis that they may be working to undermine the truce and
to discourage U.N. military intervention in Somalia.
opposition member opposed to the Djibouti agreement, Jama Mohamed
Khalib, says ARS fighters are not targeting aid workers.
do not believe it is our resistance forces. They are against the
Ethiopian occupation," said Khalib. "Unless, of course, these
humanitarian employees [have been] drawn into such problems, we regret
that innocent people have been killed."
The United Nations has
pledged to continue its humanitarian operations in Somalia, but says it
needs more assistance from the Somali people to create a safe
environment for aid and services to be delivered.