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January 23, 2012

UN Opens Office in Somali Capital After 17 Years

The United Nations has opened a political office in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, after a 17-year absence.

The U.N. special representative for Somalia, Ambassador Augustine Mahiga, arrived at the Mogadishu airport on Tuesday where he was greeted by Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and other government and diplomatic officials.

Mahiga expressed hope the opening of the U.N. political office would bring "renewed hope for the future of Somalia."  He said the new location will help the world body work more closely with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government.

The Somali government is struggling to tamp down a violent insurgency and handle a wide scale humanitarian crisis caused by drought, famine and ongoing conflict.

The U.N. moved its political office from Mogadishu to Nairobi, Kenya in 1995 because of persistent instability in the east African nation. 

During a historic visit to the Somali capital last month, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned the government has a limited window of opportunity to restore stability to the country.

The trip marked the first visit to Mogadishu by a U.N. chief since 1993, two years after the country's last stable government collapsed.