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Dire Humanitarian — And Political — Imperatives in Somalia

I’ve made the case before that the crisis in Somalia seems to hover perpetually on the edge of falling into the oblivion of international apathy. Today the UN World Food Program, which is working to feed over two million people in conditions of continually deteriorating chaos and insecurity, made an impassioned plea not to forget the dire humanitarian needs in the East African country.

“The international community must put Somalia at the top of its agenda and press for change before it is too late,” said Peter Goossens, WFP’s Country Director for Somalia. “We call on all authorities in Somalia to help us reach those in need and urge donors not to give up on this country.”

Specifically, WFP is calling for $10 million before July, at which point it will have seriously run out of most basic food staples. For the number of lives at stake, this seems a small price to pay.
Not to diminish the urgency of Somalia’s humanitarian disaster, the UN’s humanitarian and emergency relief coordinator, John Holmes, yesterday emphasized that achieving a political solution in the country is paramount to relieving its people’s distress.

“We can provide the means to keep people alive while that solution is being sought, but the solution is going to have to be based on political progress and a different security environment from the sort of ‘Wild West’ environment that prevails at the moment.”

This is the context in which to read the Secretary-General’s report that we discussed last week and in which the S-G laid out possible scenarios under which different forms of a peacekeeping force could deploy. Peacekeeping is in many ways is as vital to Somalis as humanitarian aid, but, as Mark stressed, it too will require a peace accord to be at its most effective.

Meanwhile, the U.S.’s continued support for the Ethiopian-back Transitional Government, combined with its overemphasis on counter-terrorism concerns — exemplified by the series of missiles that it has launched into the country, none of which hit their respective targets — has deeply alienated many Somalis. If the U.S. is committed to peace in Somalia, it must shift its attitude and invest its full support to the UN’s efforts to secure both negotiations and some form of peacekeeping force.

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Dire Humanitarian — And Political — Imperatives in Somalia

I’ve made the case before that the crisis in Somalia seems to hover perpetually on the edge of falling into the oblivion of international apathy. Today the UN World Food Program, which is working to feed over two million people in conditions of continually deteriorating chaos and insecurity, made an impassioned plea not to forget the dire humanitarian needs in the East African country.

“The international community must put Somalia at the top of its agenda and press for change before it is too late,” said Peter Goossens, WFP’s Country Director for Somalia. “We call on all authorities in Somalia to help us reach those in need and urge donors not to give up on this country.”

Specifically, WFP is calling for $10 million before July, at which point it will have seriously run out of most basic food staples. For the number of lives at stake, this seems a small price to pay.
Not to diminish the urgency of Somalia’s humanitarian disaster, the UN’s humanitarian and emergency relief coordinator, John Holmes, yesterday emphasized that achieving a political solution in the country is paramount to relieving its people’s distress.

“We can provide the means to keep people alive while that solution is being sought, but the solution is going to have to be based on political progress and a different security environment from the sort of ‘Wild West’ environment that prevails at the moment.”

This is the context in which to read the Secretary-General’s report that we discussed last week and in which the S-G laid out possible scenarios under which different forms of a peacekeeping force could deploy. Peacekeeping is in many ways is as vital to Somalis as humanitarian aid, but, as Mark stressed, it too will require a peace accord to be at its most effective.

Meanwhile, the U.S.’s continued support for the Ethiopian-back Transitional Government, combined with its overemphasis on counter-terrorism concerns — exemplified by the series of missiles that it has launched into the country, none of which hit their respective targets — has deeply alienated many Somalis. If the U.S. is committed to peace in Somalia, it must shift its attitude and invest its full support to the UN’s efforts to secure both negotiations and some form of peacekeeping force.

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What’s In A Name?

alx.buce.jpg

There are two “Macedonias” in the world. One is the former Yugoslav Republic, the other is a province in Greece that buttresses the former Yugoslav Republic. Macedonia-the-country is officially referred to at the UN as the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM),” which aside from being a mouthful is somewhat backward looking. Understandably, Macedonia wants to change this. But Greece is concerned that calling Macedonia, “Macedonia,” would sow confusion and imply claims on its northern province.

Yesterday, a UN mediator came up with a compromise: “The Republic of Macedonia (Skopje).” Greece, though, is dissatisfied. Why does this matter? Because next week, NATO is meeting in Bucharest to consider admitting Macedonia and Athens is threatening a veto. Yikes.

(Bronze statue of Alexander on Bucephalus Museo Nazionale di Villa Guilia, Rome, Italy)

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UN Population Fund joins others to launch campaign in DRC against sexual violence

unfpalogo.gif

Last week, the United Nations Population Fund joined civil society groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to launch a campaign raising public awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence in the DRC.

The campaign will run for the next month with a number of efforts including marches, conferences, forums, school events and endeavors to popularize laws against sexual violence.

There are 1,100 rape cases reported each month in the DRC. Additionally, victims of sexual violence are often left with little to access to help. Yakin Erturk, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, says not only that the justice system is in “deplorable conditions,” but that victims often have to pay access to the courts, which she describes as “a major obstacle to justice.”

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Attacks on Aid Workers Threatening Relief Operations in Darfur

From the UN News Center:

Attacks against aid workers in western Sudan have reached unprecedented levels, jeopardizing vital relief operations in the war-wracked Darfur region, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator said today.

In a statement released in Khartoum by her office, Ameerah Haq said the humanitarian community operating in Sudan condemned all acts of violence taking place in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting Government forces and allied militia since 2003.

On Monday Mohamed Ali, a driver contracted by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), was shot dead and his assistant was seriously injured by unidentified assailants while traveling on the main route into Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state.

Read more.

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Thursday Morning Coffee

Starting 5

>>Korea – South Korea’s new government announced on Wednesday that it would speak out against North Korean human rights abuses and that aid would not be expanded until the North abandons its nuclear weapons program. North Korea responded by expelling 11 South Korean officials from the Kaesong joint industrial site, once a model of cooperation between the North and South. South Korea also stated this week that it would vote for a UN Human Rights Council resolution criticizing North Korea and calling for a full investigation.

>>Iraq – Prime Minister Maliki set a 72-hour deadline for Shia militia to lay down their weapons and avoid prosecution as fighting continued between 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and armed groups in Basra. The 4,100 British troops stationed at the Basra airport are not taking part in the crackdown. Iraqi and American troops have also been deployed to surround Sadr City in Baghdad, the home of Moqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army, which is still maintaining its declared ceasefire. Sadr followers marched in protest, some saying that Maliki is working in league with al Sadr’s Shia rivals, the Supreme Islamic Iraq Council and the Badr Brigades, in an attempt to lessen his power prior to October provincial election.

>>Russa/U.S. – President Bush, who travels to Europe next week, has been invited by Russian president Putin to meet and attempt to iron out conflicts over possible NATO expansion into Georgia and the Ukraine and missile defense. It is likely to be their last meeting before Putin is replaced as president by Dmitri Medvedev, who will attend the meetings in his first substantial interaction with President Bush.

>>Somalia – The al Shabab islamic forces briefly captured Jowhar, a strategically placed town 50 miles north of Mogadishu, yestreday, releasing prisoners and taking weapons. In the past month, the faction has done the same in six towns in southern Somalia. The raid follows a a statement delivered to the UN Security Council by 40 NGOs on Tuesday warning of an “impending humanitarian crisis” in Somalia. The statement claims that nearly a million Somalis have been displaced. The Somali army is in shambles.

>>Iran – Iran has threatening legal action against the West for losses sustained from what it claims were illegal UN Security Council Sanctions passed on March 3. The threats were delivered in a letter from Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. It is not yet clear where Iran would present such a case.

Yesterday in UN Dispatch

The Rest of the Story


Africa

  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7315448.stm">Angola
    to host landmine pageant
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/26/zimbabwe1?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Mugabe’s
    opponents ‘forced to eat election posters’
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7315744.stm">Comoran
    rebel seeks asylum
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/world/middleeast/27egypt.html?ex=1364356800&en=3e211c58383861c6&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Navy
    Says Egyptian Died in Suez Clash
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article3628859.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">White
    farmer faces prison in Zimbabwe for refusing to give up dairy land
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7315846.stm">Tsvangirai
    ‘surprised’ by support
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7315137.stm">Arrests
    over Ethiopia’s fake gold
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/51e59d0a-fb56-11dc-8c3e-000077b07658.html">Nigerian
    ministers sacked in graft probe
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/katine/2008/mar/26/lra.background?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">How
    Joseph Kony is keeping his options open
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258345989/idUSL2617181020080326">Mugabe
    opponents would unite for run-off: campaign
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/africa/7314377.stm">Mugabe
    rival is ‘denied adverts’

Americas

  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/world/americas/27argentina.html?ex=1364356800&en=2c1157d73e58c6c1&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Argentine
    Farmers Vow to Press Strike Over Tax
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/americas/7315813.stm">More
    US passport ‘file breaches’
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/mar/27/conservation.realitytv?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">British
    reality TV crew accused as flu kills four in isolated Peruvian tribe
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/washington/27indict.html?ex=1364356800&en=728f6c1271e8db38&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">U.S.
    Says Hussein Spy Agency and Iraqi-American Arranged ’02 Trip by
    Lawmakers
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/world/americas/27salmon.html?ex=1364270400&en=c1745ddbf83da1e4&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">Virus
    Kills Chile’s Salmon and Indicts Its Fishing Methods

Asia

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258855863/idUSDEL16239720080327">Maoists
    shun gun for mobiles in Nepal poll campaign
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7316024.stm">Banned
    Indian group’s leader held
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7316130.stm">Indian
    men in US ‘slave’ protest
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/27/1?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Response:
    Bhutan is neither authoritarian nor stuck in a time warp
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/27/pakistan.usa?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Pakistan’s
    new leaders tell US: We are no longer your killing field
  • href="http://www.ft.com/cms/s/6ac149de-fb4f-11dc-8c3e-000077b07658.html">Philippine
    chains halve rice portions
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7315691.stm">Bush
    calls Hu to urge Tibet talks
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7315895.stm">Monks
    disrupt Tibet media visit
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7315927.stm">Burma
    leader in rare appearance
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/258735857/AR2008032603275.html">Eyewitnesses
    Recount Terrifying Day in Tibet
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/7315942.stm">India
    temple stampede kills eight
  • href="http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/%7Er/wp-dyn/rss/world/index_xml/%7E3/258818121/AR2008032700007.html">U.S.
    Steps Up Unilateral Strikes in Pakistan
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258773072/idUSTP1903520080327">Taiwan
    says did not dismantle U.S. missile parts

Europe

  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258711350/idUSL2690393620080327">Sarkozy
    and Brown to urge more market transparency
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/uk_politics/7315649.stm">Sarkozy
    in UK nuclear talks
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258833425/idUSJAK15749420080327">Serbia
    to push for separating ethnic Serbs from Kosovo
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258847734/idUSL2710028520080327">Sarkozy’s
    wife hailed as France’s Princess Diana
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7316033.stm">Karadzic’s
    family homes raided
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3629103.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Bruno
    the wandering bear ends up stuffed in Munich museum
  • href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article3626645.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797093">Remains
    of ‘pioneer woman’ found in Spain are oldest west European
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/world/europe/27briefs-NOEIFFELREDE_BRF.html?ex=1364356800&en=a6dcfe2e99de83ec&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">France:
    No Eiffel Redesign Planned, Says Architect Who Made Proposal
  • href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/1/hi/world/europe/7311104.stm">French
    ‘serial killer’ on trial
  • href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/world/europe/27europe.html?ex=1364270400&en=207686702eb20d52&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">European
    Leaders Press China Over Tibet
  • href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/mar/27/internationalaidanddevelopment.development?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews">Plan
    to put 16m African children into school
  • href="http://feeds.reuters.com/%7Er/reuters/worldNews/%7E3/258478465/idUSL2668937420080326">Austria
    to return more art Nazis stole from Jews
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