NAIROBI, 20 March (IRIN) - The European
Commission (EC) has advised international NGOs whose operations it funds
in Somalia to evacuate their international staff.
The recommendation "to consider evacuation of their international staff from Somalia with immediate effect" was given to the NGOs on Thursday "as a precautionary measure until such time as the situation can be assessed as normal".
According to an EC advisory note, received by IRIN, it said that in view of the military action against Iraq, the EC delegation was urging its partners "at the very least to reduce their international staff inside Somalia to the absolute minimum".
International NGO sources told IRIN there was concern that the US government s military action in Iraq "may create adverse conditions in Somalia", a mainly Muslim country.
All international staff in EC liaison offices in the country would be evacuated, and all normally scheduled flights operated by its humanitarian branch, ECHO, would be suspended, the note said.
However, a report by the UN Security Office in Somalia said UN operations in the country would continue and all UN staff would remain in areas designated as safe.
The office said it did not have credible information that events in Iraq would prompt negative reactions in Somalia, noting that Somalis were too concerned about their own problems to worry about events in Iraq.
While there had been rhetoric during the Afghanistan war, no attacks on expatriates had taken place in Somalia, the security office pointed out. It said it would continue to monitor the situation in the country, and if at any moment the situation deteriorated it would evacuate staff.
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