Home > Augustine P. Mahiga, TFG Somalia > Somalia:UN welcomes Al-Shabaab vacating out of Mogadishu

Somalia:UN welcomes Al-Shabaab vacating out of Mogadishu

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Laaska News  August 7,2011
by Peter Mutai

NAIROBI, Aug. 7 (Xinhua)–The UN envoy for Somalia has welcomed the news that the Islamic insurgent group Al-Shabaab has begun to leave the capital, Mogadishu, and called on the strife-torn Horn of Africa nation’s government to use the opportunity to ensure aid delivery to civilians in need.

In a statement issued in Nairobi, Augustine Mahiga, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, also called on the Transitional Governmental of Somalia to use this opportunity to guarantee the security of its population and do everything in its power to assist and protect the civilian population.

“There is no doubt that the departure of Al-Shabaab would be a positive development and a step in the right direction for a city that has seen so much misery and devastation,” Mahiga said in a statement issued on Saturday night.

He said the armed group has already vacated key strategic points throughout the capital, including Baakara Market.

“I am very pleased to learn of the progress made over the last several days on the security situation in Mogadishu,” the UN envoy said.

“But as we look forward, it is important that we acknowledge that real security risks, including from terrorist attacks, remain and must not be underestimated,” he added.

Fighting between the government forces and Al-Shabaab militants had already uprooted tens of thousands of people in Mogadishu before the current humanitarian crisis began.

Ongoing insecurity and drought, as well as famine in parts of southern Somalia, have caused a massive influx of starving adults and children into the city in the past two months.

“The immediate priority must now be to focus on the humanitarian situation and I call on all parties, from the donor community to all parts of the Transitional Federal Government, to do everything possible to ensure and facilitate the immediate delivery of assistance to those most in need,” Mahiga stressed.

Al-Shabaab’s notoriously brutal brand of Islamism has tormented Mogadishu residents for years, but more recently the rebels had also blocked international relief groups from bringing food to victims of the famine that has swept southern Somalia this summer.

Aid groups hoped that an al-Shabaab retreat would allow them access to more parts of Mogadishu, where more than 100,000 famine victims are camped out waiting for help.

But al-Shabaab still controls large parts of southern Somalia that have been worst hit by drought and famine, and it is not clear when Western aid groups will be able to get into those areas.

The rebels said Saturday that they had “completely vacated Mogadishu for tactical purposes,” according to Ali Mohamud Rage, an al-Shabaab spokesman. He said that al-Shabaab Mahiga reminded all armed groups of the appeal of the Security Council, expressed in the Presidential Statement of 11 May 2011, to lay down their arms and join the peace process, which is ultimately the key to long term stability in Somalia.

Al-Shabaab, which had pledged allegiance to al-Qaida, has imposed a brutal reign in areas it controlled, chopping off the hands of petty thieves, lashing women for showing their ankles and beheading anyone deemed a spy. They also banned music, television, gold teeth and even bras, branding them all un-Islamic.

 Xinhua

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