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Annan Calls for Immediate Ceasefire in Somali Capital Mogadishu


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the warring factions in the Somali capital Mogadishu to declare an immediate ceasefire, after days of fighting claimed the lives of more than a hundred people and displaced thousands of non-combatants in the worst violence to grip the city in almost a decade.

Speaking to reporters in New York, his spokesman said Mr. Annan was "deeply concerned" at the increasing violence and "urges all parties to support the Transitional Federal Institutions in their effort to implement the Transitional Charter," referring to efforts to bring peace to the impoverished Horn of Africa country.

The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Ghanim Alnajjar, also backed calls for an end to the fighting, highlighting that "in situations like these, most of the victims are civilians who are caught in the crossfire, some of which are children."

"I appeal to these militia forces to end these hostilities immediately, and I wish to remind all concerned of the need to fully respect humanitarian law during conflict and of the duty to protect the human rights of civilians at all times," said Mr. Alnajjar, who carries out his duties on an independent voluntary basis.

It is reported that up to 120 people have been killed and scores injured during the past five days in what is the second round of fighting this year in Mogadishu, following violence in March that reportedly killed 90 people.

Yesterday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour told reporters that Somalia urgently needs international attention, saying there was frustration that "the international community was insufficiently engaged in a country that needed a huge amount of assistance and where a large part of the country still needed governance to take root."

On Wednesday, the Security Council re-established for a six-month period the mandate of the Monitoring Group on Somalia, set up to investigate the 1992 arms embargo, and the top United Nations envoy to the war-torn country appealed for all sides to end the bloody violence in the capital and "step back from the brink."

The latest report from the Monitoring Group highlighted that "arms, military materiel and financial support continue to flow like a river to various actors, in violation of the arms embargo," and the Group identifies the Transitional Federal Government, the Mogadishu-based opposition alliance, the militant fundamentalists, the business elite, pirate groups and feuding sub-clans as "the main actors" receiving the arms.

Somalia has been torn by factional fighting ever since the collapse of President Muhammad Siad Barre's regime 15 years ago.

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