Somalia : Release of the last Sool and Sanag conflict related detainees
The Minister of Planning and International Cooperation in Puntland, Mr Abdirahman Farole, stated that this was a significant step towards promoting peace and building trust between the communities. According to the Minister, the exchange was negotiated between the highest levels of both administrations and signifies a strong commitment by the authorities towards creating stability in the area.
The last thirty six remaining prisoners held in captivity as a result of fighting over the disputed areas of Sool and Sanang in late 2004 were handed over to their homelands yesterday morning. The Minister of Justice in Somaliland, Mr Ahmed Hassan Ali confirmed that the exchange was conducted on humanitarian grounds and urged the international community to provide assistance to facilitate the re-integration of those released back into their communities.
Throughout his term, the UN Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia, Dr. Alnajjar has advocated for a speedy release of the prisoners as a step towards promoting and building peace. In 2005, the Independent Expert visited Somaliatwice and met with some of the detainees as well as senior officials to mediate their exchange.
The Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, welcomed the exchange which finally reunites the individuals with their families. Mr. Lazzarini stated,"this event is a significant confidence-building gesture by both administrations".
In support of the process, the UN and other humanitarian agencies have provided assistance to the released detainees. Under the auspices of the Humanitarian Coordinator, UNOCHA coordinated assistance provided by the UN children's agency (UNICEF) and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). UNICEF provided a package of relief items that includes family relief kits to be distributed to the prisoners, while DRC provided livelihood support.
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Amanda Di Lorenzo,
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