U.S. ON VIOLENCE IN SOMALIA
The Elman Human Rights Organization, a Somali group, reports that fighting between Ethiopian-backed government forces and Islamic insurgents in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, has killed hundreds of people, mostly civilians. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, more than forty-five thousand people, mainly women and children, have abandoned their homes since the latest round of fighting erupted in March.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said she is deeply concerned over the high number of civilian deaths and injuries caused by attacks and aerial bombardments in populated areas of Mogadishu. Ms. Arbor urged the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and reminded them of their duty to protect the rights of civilians at all times. That includes granting civilians safe passage and allowing humanitarian aid to reach those who have been affected.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States is concerned about the effect of the current fighting in Somalia on civilians:
Mr. McCormack said that the United States is urging reconciliation among Somalia's warring factions. That, he said, is a prerequisite for Somalia to emerge from the "morass of violence" it has found itself in for decades:
Mr. McCormack said the African Union peacekeeping force, deployed in Somalia comprised of some sixteen hundred Ugandan troops, needs continued logistical support. The International Contact Group on Somalia, he said, strongly urges additional countries to contribute troops to reinforce the A-U forces providing security in Somalia.