Accessibility links

Breaking News

UN Security Council Cautious About Sending Troops to Somalia

The U.N. Refugee Agency says weeks of violence in Somalia's capital prompted 3,500 people to flee the city in June, even as many people returned to Mogadishu.

In a statement released late Thursday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, reports that 33,000 people returned to the capital this month.

The UNHCR report also says only 123,000 of some 400,000 civilians who fled the capital during intense fighting between February and May have returned.

Agency staff members report that those who have not returned say they will not do so until the city is completely safe.

Somalia's Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi has asked for help from the U.N. Security Council to bring peace to Mogadishu, which has seen an escalation of violence this month.

Mr. Gedi told the Council Thursday that Somalia is at a critical crossroads, and now is the time to send in troops.

Diplomats expressed support for the prime minister, but said they are cautious about sending U.N. peacekeepers to the volatile country.

In violence Thursday in Mogadishu, two people were killed by a roadside bomb that targeted a military convoy.

Also Thursday, an official of Somalia's ousted Islamic Courts Union said the movement will not attend a planned national reconciliation conference in Mogadishu, scheduled for mid July.

The Islamic Courts Union's Foreign Affairs Secretary, Ibrahim Hassan Addow, told VOA that Islamist leaders cannot attend any such conference while Ethiopian troops remain in Somalia.

Ethiopian soldiers helped Somalia's transitional government drive the Islamic Courts Union from power late last year. Thousands of Ethiopian troops remain in Somalia to protect the government from insurgents.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991.