Somalis express fears, hope for new year

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MOGADISHU, Dec 26, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- As the new year is just around the corner, Somalis who have not seen stability for nearly two decades express their fears and hopes for peace in 2010.

The Somali government has, for the past three years, been struggling with the Islamist insurgency amid almost daily clashes between rebel fighters and government forces backed by African Union peacekeepers, causing civilian casualties and displacement.

Dahir Nur, a teacher in one of the few schools still open in the restive Somali capital Mogadishu, says as things stand now he sees no change in the status quo in next year, arguing no one is willing to talk the other.

"I cannot see any improvement in the situation next year because there are no signs that the sides want to have negotiated settlement to the conflict," Nur told Xinhua. "It would be a wishful thinking on my part to expect change for the better in the near future as things stand."

The country has seen waves of violence at the closing of the year with suicide bombings, roadside explosions, assassinations and blanket shelling of residential areas being the order of the day in Mogadishu. Civilians have borne the brunt of the turmoil.

Despite the deadly clashes, there are hopes that things will turn for the better with many seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

Qaali Haji, a mother of five, has lived in Mogadishu since the outbreak of the violence in the capital in early 2007, when Somali government forces backed by Ethiopian troops ousted an Islamist administration in the south and center of Somalia.

She says one should never lose hope of peace and prosperity in this country.

"I know we have been through a long war and many attempts for a lasting peace in Somalia failed, but keep in mind the natural state of affairs for this country should be peace and prosperity. Hope is the last thing one loses and I do not want to lose that," she told Xinhua.

Mohamed Aalim, a senior Somali man, is philosophical about the issue, saying what Somalia is now going through is something that many nations have been through but managed to overcome. So he argues Somalia will pass this stage of civil conflict and make peace.

"This has a historical precedence and many nations, such as the U.S., Europe and others have seen civil conflict such as we are going through now and even worse, but you see these places are more peaceful and prosperous," says Aalim, who express hope that next year would be the right time for warring sides to come together and make peace once and for all.