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Ban Ki-Moon Urges Immediate Cessation of Hostilities in Somalia

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New York, March 24, 2007 - As fighting flared in Somalia, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and steps towards an inclusive political process that can lead to genuine national reconciliation.

"I am greatly concerned at the conflict that has ravaged Somalia in the past few days, especially in Mogadishu," Mr. Ban said in a statement released in Cairo, where he is on an official visit. "This has resulted in the death of innocent civilians and the displacement of a large number of people from their homes."

The downing of a plane serving the UN-authorized African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the death of its crew "has added further bloodshed to this tragic conflict," he observed.

"I therefore urgently call for an immediate cessation of hostilities," Mr. Ban said.

"I also call on the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the transitional federal institutions to embark on a dialogue with all Somali parties, with the objective of attaining genuine national reconciliation through an inclusive political process that is representative of all Somali parties.

The Secretary-General's appeal comes one day after the Security Council issued a press statement expressing concern about the fighting in Somalia and "outrage over the shooting down of a cargo airplane which took off from the city's airport."

The warring factions were called on "to desist from further acts of violence, adhere to international humanitarian law, and afford unimpeded access for relief workers." Council members also reiterated their call for an immediate, all-inclusive political dialogue.

The UN estimates that more than 40,000 people fled Mogadishu due to conflict in February. Recent statements by the warring parties naming areas to be targeted for security operations are already causing further displacement of civilians. Movement of local UN staff in Mogadishu is severely restricted by the violence, while humanitarian access from outside the city is currently impossible.

Violence in the capital has increased since the TFG, backed by Ethiopian forces, dislodged the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) from Mogadishu and much of the rest of the country at the end of last year. Somalia has been beset by factional violence and lacked a functioning central government since 1991, when the regime of Muhammad Siad Barre was toppled.

Source: UN News Services


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