Top stories from the Development and Aid Workers News Service–DAWNS Digest.

Ban Ki Moon Visits Somalia

The S-G made a surprise visit to Somalia today to announce that the UN office for Somalia should move from Nairobi to Mogadishu. ”Ban Ki-moon made the first visit to Somalia by a U.N. Secretary General since 1993 on Friday and pledged to open a U.N. political office in the war-ravaged capital Mogadishu in January. Ban said his visit was to show solidarity with the Somalia people and to pledge continued international support as the government and African Union troops fight Islamist rebels and politicians work towards elections next year. The U.N. Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) has a few political officers on the ground in Mogadishu but high-level officials are based in Kenya’s capital Nairobi due to security concerns. Diplomats in Nairobi said that for the plan announced by Ban to have significance at least one of the two top officials — Special Representative Augustine Mahiga and Deputy Special Representative Christian Manahl — should move to Mogadishu.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/tg3x3e)

Meanwhile…Mogadishu Experiences Worst Fighting in Months

After a few months of relative — very relative — calm, clashes have once again erupted in throughout Mogadishu. “Al-Shabab withdrew its fighters from the capital in August after the government launched an offensive with the support of African Union troops.  The Islamist group said the move was ‘tactical’ and vowed to return. Since late November, there have been 15 bomb attacks in Mogadishu, and the government has blamed them on al-Shabab. In an interview with VOA Somali Service on Thursday, a former official with Somalia’s National Security Agency said al-Shabab appears to have adopted guerilla tactics to destabilize Mogadishu. Colonel Abdulahi Ali Maow also said al-Shabab appears to have created a unit of more sophisticated fighters, some of whom may have infiltrated pro-government forces.” (VOA http://bit.ly/vTTr8r)

DRC Election Results: We Should Know Really Soon. (Or Not)

We should have known the results three days ago, but word from election officials is that preliminary polling results will be announced on Friday. Given the fluid nature of these things, we’ll believe it when we see it. In the meantime, everyone is on edge. “Earlier results, from about 90 percent of polling places, showed President Kabila was nearly 50 percent of the vote compared to Mr. Tshisekedi’s 33 percent. But Mr. Tshisekedi’s party secretary general told reporters Thursday those numbers do not reflect the vote of the people. The capital, Kinshasa, has been largely calm, but supporters of both men have hinted that violence could break out if their candidate is not named the winner. Troops are on standby in case of unrest, and the United Nations, United States, European Union and African Union have urged calm.” (VOA http://bit.ly/tqmCb8)

UN Contractors Accused of Sex Abuse

This just sounds awful. “The U.N. peacekeeping department said it temporarily suspended the contracts of two Russian air transportation firms active in Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo after several staff were charged with sexual abuse of local residents. The sexual abuse was ‘extremely serious, very, very bad stuff,’ a source familiar with the decision of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) told Reuters on condition of anonymity. He did not offer any specific details. (Alternet http://bit.ly/szUsHC)

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