Somalia

UN officials pay tribute to Ugandan peacekeepers after 4 die in Somalia

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Top United Nations officials paid tribute to Ugandan troops from the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, after four of their number died and several others were injured in an attack today in the violence-torn capital, Mogadishu.

The Special Representative of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for Somalia, François Lonsény Fall, strongly condemned the attack, reiterating his appreciation for the AU mission's initiative to ease the suffering of the people of Somalia, where some of the worst fighting of 16 years of instability recently raged.

"Mr. Fall regretted that such unjustified acts are carried out at a time when efforts are under way by all international partners to help Somalis engage in a genuine political dialogue," the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) said in a press release.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said he was especially saddened by the losses since he had been personally protected by Ugandan peacekeepers during his recent visit to Somalia and had been impressed by their professionalism.

Mr. Holmes was in Kampala, Uganda today, where he met with Government officials, donors and representatives of UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), after visiting refugee camps where hundreds of thousands have been displaced during a 21-year conflict between Government forces and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

Continued UN support for the talks on that conflict taking place in Juba, South Sudan is already easing the humanitarian situation both there and in Northern Uganda, he said, but the humanitarian appeal for Uganda is still only half funded.

Mr. Holmes noted that the international community now has many opportunities in the north of the country in providing aid for relief, recovery and development and increasing partnership with the Government.

"We cannot afford to waste this opportunity," Mr. Holmes said. "We have no excuse not to get it right in Uganda, because we can see recovery on the horizon. But it will require collective engagement for several years to come," he cautioned.

Mr. Holmes will return to New York tomorrow and is scheduled to brief the Security Council on his mission to Somalia and Uganda on Monday, 21 May.