The UN Independent Expert on Human Rights for Somalia urges the international community to give more attention to the human rights situation in the country. Between 22 August and 1 September, Dr. Ghanim Alnajjar completed his fifth fact-finding mission to the region since being appointed Independent Expert by the UN Secretary-General in June 2001. In his opening to a media briefing, the Independent Expert strongly condemned the assassination of human rights defenders and journalists in Somalia and paid tribute to those who have lost their lives in the performance of their duties.
In southern and central Somalia, while the prevailing security conditions have continued to remain tense and volatile in most regions, recent improvements in specific areas could provide new opportunities for access and humanitarian engagement. Much of the change has stemmed from pressure from the communities who fatigued with ongoing strife have demanded better social services and accountability of their leadership. In Lower Juba, following UNDSS's comprehensive security assessment, the recommendation to down-grade the security phase in Kismayo has been approved. This will enable a gradual resumption of UN activities in the area and increased access to vulnerable communities. A UNDSS assessment in Merka, Lower Shabelle, also found conditions amenable for the resumption of activities.
Meanwhile, in Gedo, more than four months after the outbreak of fighting between the Marehan and Gare in El Wak, the outcome of a peace initiative may provide an opportunity to re-engage in access negotiations to assist an estimated 15,000 displaced by the fighting. The two clans have agreed to a ceasefire and unconfirmed numbers of IDPs have reportedly been returning to El Wak.
Several windows of opportunity exist now in Somalia to fight HIV/AIDS which other African countries never had at this stage of the epidemic in the early 1980s. With a median prevalence rate of 0.9%, Somalia is at a level of the HIV/AIDS epidemic which allows for a successful preventive response - an opportunity that must not be missed.
Consultations for the 2006 Somalia CAP took place in the course of August with involvement of over 250 people representing UN agencies, local and international NGOs and local authorities. Aid partners agreed that almost one million people - including 370,000-400,000 IDPs - found to be in urgent need of assistance will be the priority target group for the humanitarian response in 2006. Particular attention will go toward assisting 169,000 people who are experiencing a Humanitarian Emergency along the Juba Valley - an area beset by high morbidity and malnutrition rates (as high as 20% in some areas), chronic food insecurity and more recently, flooding. In view of the Joint Needs Assessment that has begun, in Somalia the CAP will as of now focus more directly on humanitarian priorities while ensuring a link to longer term rehabilitation and development.
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- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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