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Kenya: Help Save Somalia, Pleads Tuju

 

Kevin J Kelley and Samuel Siringi
Washington, DC

Foreign Affairs minister Raphael Tuju called for the creation of a joint committee consisting of countries neighbouring Somalia, the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union and "prominent members of the Security Council" to address the problem.

"The secretary-general of the Arab League is supporting the Kenyan proposal," Mr Tuju said yesterday when addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, USA.

He warned that "discordant messages" from various world capitals would encourage forces inside Somalia to "establish new facts on the ground that they may leverage in future negotiations".

Mr Tuju was referring to the recent takeover of large parts of the Horn of Africa country by the Islamic Courts Union militias.

He said Kenya supported UN resolutions recognising the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), currently based in Baidoa, as the sole legitimate authority in Somalia. He recalled Kenya's role as host of a two-year-long negotiating process that culminated in creation of the TFG.

Lacking substantive international support, he said, TFG officials "are like people thrown into the deep end of turbulent waters and expected to swim with their hands tied on their back while hungry crocodiles surround them."

At the same time, Kenya had opened dialogue with the Islamist militias, said Mr Tuju.

"With no government in place for 16 years, Somalia poses a threat not only to its neighbours, but to the entire world," said the minister. "As criminal elements establish their safe enclaves in a country like Somalia, the neighbouring countries and the international community are soon forced to intervene, even militarily," he said.

"Somalia is almost dying. We have known that for the last 16 years," the minister told the General Assembly. "It is really a tribute to the resilience of the Somali people that there are still human beings living in that country," he said.

A humanitarian organisation has sent out a plea for urgent food donations for refugees in Kenya.

"The number of refugees is expected to increase by more than 50 per cent by December," according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

It would cost Sh583 million in the next six months alone to feed the rising number of refugees, the WFP added.

Between 300 and 400 new refugees were entering Daadab each day, resulting in the highest number of such refugees in a decade, said the UN agency.

There are now 240,000 registered refugees in Kenya, with thousands more new arrivals from the war-torn Somalia.

"Unless we get new funds for our refugee operations immediately, we will have to cut rations in the camps in November," WFP deputy country director Marian Read said in a statement.


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