News / Africa

    Top UN Official Dismisses Talk of Somali Government Collapse

    The U.N. Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe, says despite on-going security challenges in Somalia, the country's Transitional Federal Government and African Union peacekeeping troops are making positive strides to lift the country out of nearly 20 years of war.

    Briefing reporters in Nairobi about his visit, Under-Secretary General Pascoe says what he saw in Mogadishu is not the picture of a weak, faltering government and an unpopular peacekeeping force as they are often portrayed in the Somali and international media.

    He says critics of the Transitional Federal Government and the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, are overlooking some positive developments that have occurred since 2007, when Islamists began their bloody campaign to topple the U.N.-backed government.

    "I do not want to sound overly optimistic and perfectly recognize all the difficulties that are there," he said. "But I also do not accept the statements, which I have seen repeatedly for the last three years, that everything is terrible and it is all falling apart. Yes, the government is weak. But the government is much more inclusive than it was before. The reaching out to groups, I think, is going to continue. When I look at the AMISOM-influenced or controlled area, however you want to define it, I see an AMISOM force, which very much has its act together."

    The assessment follows a one-day visit by Pascoe and the Secretary General's recently-appointed Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, to Mogadishu.

    The U.N. officials held talks with AMISOM force commander and Somali President Sharif Sheik Ahmed, a former Islamist leader whose came to power in early 2009 in a U.N.-sponsored power-sharing deal.

    The deal was hailed as the best opportunity Somalia had for restoring peace and order since 1991, when the country's last central government was ousted and Somalia fell into chaos.

    But after nearly two more years of conflict that has escalated in intensity, President Sharif's government has been unable to generate the popular support the United Nations had hoped it would receive. The African Union peacekeeping force, made up of troops from Uganda and Burundi, has also been sharply criticized for shelling densely-populated neighborhoods during clashes with insurgents.

    Western analysts and human-rights groups have expressed fear that allegations of widespread government corruption and AMISOM's use of indiscriminate fire may have aided Somalia's al-Shabab group in its quest to become the most powerful force in the country.

    The Somali government and the African Union argue their ability to counter al-Shabab's threat and to stabilize the country has been largely limited by the tepid support given to it by international donor countries.

    Pascoe acknowledges that there are problems that need to be addressed within the government and AMISOM. But he says he believes both require more international support, not less, if Somalis are to have a chance at re-building their shattered country.

    "It is quite clear that you need a strengthened role, I think, for AMISOM, which in fact is strengthening now and is much better than it was in the past," added Pascoe. "And you clearly need more work on developing forces that are loyal to the government, or at least associated to the government, in other areas. Is this a huge challenge? Yes. Is it going to be very difficult? Yes. But what strikes me is how the pieces are coming into place and the political will of the international community is strengthening."

    The European Commission confirmed its support for the three-year-old peacekeeping mission by providing an additional $54 million. The United States says it has obligated more than $185 million in support of AMISOM troops this year.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora