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UN chief insists 'World must act fast to avert famine in Somalia'

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday warned of a spiraling famine in Somalia should the international community fail to respond in time.

Speaking in Somali capital of Mogadishu after meeting with the country’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Guterres said millions of Somalis are facing food shortage and disease and that the situation is getting worse unless the world acts fast.

"This is a moment of tragedy, people are dying because of famine; because of disease but this is a moment of hope because the government is ready to act, the humanitarian community is ready to act," he said.

He said that with the support of the international community, "it will be possible to avoid the worst and it will be possible to launch the pillars, the fundamental basis for Somalia to be able to turn the page."

The UN announced last month Somalia was gradually slipping into famine calling for 825 million U.S. dollars aid to support up to 6.2 million people.

The UN chief noted that "without that support we will have a tragedy that is absolutely unacceptable and that the Somali people do not deserve."

"All these reasons," the UN chief said. "justify a massive response but we have things prepared in the ground but we need financial support from the international community."

Guterres also visited Baydhabo town in south western Somalia where he was expected to visit a hospital and internally displaced people’s camp.


One of seven Somali children dies before five, WHO says

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- One out of seven Somali children dies before its fifth birthday, and acute malnutrition weakens the immune system, which makes affected children more susceptible to disease such as measles, a UN spokesman told reporters here Tuesday.

Only about half of the Somali population, some 6.2 million people, has access to basic health services, and less than half of all pregnant women have access to assisted deliveries.and less than half of all pregnant women have access to assisted deliveries, Farhan Haq, the deputy UN spokesman, quoted the World Health Organization (WHO) as saying at a daily news briefingat.

Food insecurity has been worsened by drought in Somalia, where the famine killed around 260,000 people in 2011.

In Somalia, drought conditions are threatening an already fragile population battered by decades of conflict. Almost half the population are facing acute food insecurity and in need of humanitarian assistance.

Some 185,000 children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year, and the figure may rise to 270,000 in the next few months, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in February.

Africa Union embarks on peaceful resolution program in Somalia

by Chrispinus Omar NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Africa Union said Tuesday it has embarked on a peace program that seeks to build and strengthen the capacity of Somali stakeholders in conflict negotiation, resolution and management.

A statement from the AU mission (AMISOM) issued in Nairobi said the three-day training for stakeholders began in the Kenyan capital on Monday and draws 21 Somali participants from different backgrounds and regions.

AU Special Representative for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, Francisco Caetano Madeira said the meeting would grant the participants theories that would help them deal with problems that divide their country.

"I expect that with the new acquired skills you will go back to Somalia to support negotiations, mediation and dialogue initiatives of your respective places of work and communities," the told the participants during the opening ceremony.

Madeira said to pull Somalia from its current conflict, the Somalis will have to be tolerant with one another and try to find a level playing ground that can allow them to live in harmony.

He urged Somalis to patiently try to understand each other and the reasons that get the youth to Al-Shabaab.

"In Al-Shabaab there are people who come together for many reasons.

"Some join the terrorist group due to unemployment and/ or disaffection with their Imams. We should always extend a hand of friendship," Madeira said.

"Some of the youths now with Al Shabaab want to get back to normal life.

"We shouldn’t hesitate to bring them in, understand their problem and try to de-radicalise them," he added.

Madeira expressed confidence that Somalia will survive and join the family of peaceful nations.

"Somalia is not going to die; it would have already died.

"Somalia will survive and will be there," he said.

He added to say that Somalis need to be empowered to solve their own problems, to run their own country, defend their country.

Among the workshop topics include causes of conflict, its resolution and management; negotiations and inclusivity; mediation and dialogue.

There will be simulations and lessons and experiences drawn from South Africa and South Sudan.

The training exercise is part of AMISOM’s mission to support the Somali government in its effort to bring peace to the country that has suffered decades of war

"This workshop is about learning from each other, about our experiences and theories, and doing many exercises with you and is also about learning with each other, and linking it to your own context," said renowned conflict resolution expert Judith van der Booget from the Clingedae Institute.

"We see in our work many different conflicts.

"Many different people work on resolving these conflicts and it is so hard and sometimes people are struggling.

"It’s not an easy task we are dealing with.

"Every day is another step into trying to do something.

"I hope these techniques will help you think about your plans, your roles, and your partners in conflict resolution," she added.


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