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BATTLE FOR KISMAYO: UN Urges Civilians’ Protection

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store http://civilianpeaceservice.ca/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-comments-list-table.php geneva;”> “Today, buy information pills http://conceive.ca/wp-content/cache/wp-cache-db4dfe910fe313355d1492db8b3b84c9.php Kenya’s Minister of State for Defence assured me that the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) would do everything possible to minimize the impact of their ongoing military operation on civilians, hospital http://chrisbevingtonorganisation.com/wp-includes/bookmark.php ” the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, said in a news release on Wednesday evening.

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“The Minister also told me that the KDF would help ensure humanitarian access to all people in need,” Mr Bowden added after his meeting.

He welcomed Kenya’s assurances and reiterated his call for all parties to the conflict to make every effort to minimize the impact of conflict on civilians and to allow full humanitarian access to all people in need.

The humanitarian official had met earlier with Kenya’s Minister of State for Defence, Mohamed Yusuf Haji, and its Chief of Defence Forces, General Julius W. Karangi, to discuss the protection of civilians in Kismayo.

Despite recent advances in Somalia’s peace and national reconciliation process, after decades of warfare, the African nation is still dealing with the impact of the Al Shabaab militant group, which has been pushed out of capital, Mogadishu, but still controls parts of Somalia, primarily in its south-central regions, including Kismayo.

In addition, UN humanitarian agencies and their partners have been helping Somalis deal with the impact of drought, as well as the after-effects of famine in some areas; while famine was officially declared over earlier this year, many Somalis are still in desperate need.

Along with Somali Government troops, the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) – under which Kenyan military forces in the country now serve – has been engaged in an intense offensive against the Al Shabaab, making inroads in some of the areas surrounding the capital.

BATTLE FOR KISMAYO HEATS UP

On Wednesday, AMISOM called for calm among residents of the southern port city of Kismayo following reports of Al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab terrorists fleeing the town.

“AMISOM is concerned about reports that civilians are being attacked by militants in their homes and being forced to flee the town,” said AMISOM Deputy Force Commander Maj. Gen. Simon Karanja.

“We appeal for all to remain calm. AMISOM’s intent remains to liberate the people of Kismayo to enable them to lead their lives in peace, stability and security,” he added.

Troops from AMISOM’s Kenyan contingent captured a string of towns on the road from Afmadow to Kismayo, most recently the strategic town of Bibi.

“We urge all the fighters remaining in Kismayo to lay down their arms. Already a number of them have contacted us indicating their wish to cease fighting and we have assured them of their safety if they give themselves up to our forces,” Gen. Karanja said.

The Kenyan General also appealed to humanitarian agencies to come to the aid of the people fleeing to areas liberated by AMISOM and Somali security forces.

“We stand ready to facilitate any efforts to ease the suffering of the population,” he said.

The Deputy Force Commander also appealed to humanitarian agencies to come to the aid of the people fleeing Al Shabaab-controlled areas, and said that AMISOM troops “stand ready to facilitate any efforts to ease the suffering of the population.”

On his part, Mr Bowden noted that while humanitarian actors remain neutral and strictly independent of military and political processes, they rely on all sides to gain access to those in need.

“I welcome Kenya’s assurances and reiterate my call for all parties to the conflict to make every effort to minimize the impact of conflict on civilians and to allow full humanitarian access to all people in need,” the humanitarian official said.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of Somalis receiving life-saving aid has more than doubled since July 2011, when famine had been declared, with more than 1.6 million Somalis now receiving food assistance, and 1.7 million people able to access clean water.

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