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United Nations Secretary-General replaces top Somalia envoy

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- Three days after the top UN envoy in Somalia was ordered to leave the country by its government, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has decided to appoint a new special representative.

Guterres "intends to appoint in due course a new Special Representative for Somalia and Head of United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM)," said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for the secretary-general, in a statement on Friday.

The original envoy, Nicholas Haysom, was accused of "violating protocols" and "deliberately interfering" in the internal affairs by the Somali government on Tuesday, and he was declared a "persona non grata" and was ordered to leave the country.

In his statement, the secretary-general said he deeply regrets the decision of the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia and he has full confidence in Haysom, an experienced and respected international civil servant who has distinguished himself in numerous senior leadership roles.

Guterres said the doctrine of persona non grata does not apply to, or in respect of, United Nations personnel.

"As described in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the doctrine applies to diplomatic agents who are accredited by one State to another in the context of their bilateral relations," said Guterres, adding that the United Nations is not a State and its personnel are not accredited to the States where they are deployed.

Nevertheless, Guterres will replace Haysom because "UNSOM needs to be able to carry out in the most effective manner its mandate to support the country," according to the statement.

Somali police last month arrested a former al-Shabab deputy leader who also was the main challenger in the South West State elections for regional presidency, and Haysom has been asking for clarification from the government on the legal basis for the arrest.


al-Shabaab remains the biggest source of insecurity in Somalia

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The former top UN envoy in Somalia Nicholas Haysom on Thursday warned that al-Shabaab remains the biggest source of insecurity in Somalia.

"Despite the ongoing operations to degrade the terrorist group, it still has the capacity to conduct indiscriminate attacks on Somali citizens, and target electoral delegates, the Somali security forces and African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM)," said the special representative of the UN secretary-general for Somalia in his briefing to the UN Security Council.

Two United Nations staff members and a contractor were injured on Tuesday after seven mortars landed inside the UN compound in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, the responsibility for this attack has claimed by al-Shabaab.

"In no country are attacks against the United Nations acceptable," said Haysom.

AMISOM and Somali security forces operations have succeeded in denying al-Shabaab the possibility of launching conventional attacks, the UN envoy said.

"It now relies on improvised explosive devices and targeted assassinations."

Al-Shabaab is a Somalia-based Islamist group, which has split into two groups, with one still pledging allegiance to Al-Qaeda, the other to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Haysom also warned that pro-ISIL elements have targeted business owners using extortion to extract revenue and conducting assassinations in Mogadishu and Puntland.

"It appears that the cause of conflict between the two extremist groups is now primarily driven by financial interests," said Haysom, adding that their focus is now on "extortion of so called taxes."

Just hours after Tuesday's fire attack on the main UN compound in Mogadishu, the Somali government ordered Haysom to leave the country, alleging that he interfered in its sovereign affairs.

The drastic move by Somalia came after the UN envoy asked clarification from the government on whether UN-supported forces were involved in the shooting of demonstrators in the southern city of Baidoa last month.

Haysom demanded answers from the government about the legal basis for arresting former al-Shabab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow who was the main challenger in the South West State elections for regional presidency.

Robow's arrest sparked clashes between Robow's supporters and Somali security forces from Dec. 13 to 15, 2018, resulting in the death of 15 people.

In his briefing to the Security Council, Haysom said that the arrest of the former al-Shabaab deputy leader "marred the process and does not bode well for upcoming electoral processes in other regions or for the 2020 national elections."

This may also have implications for the likelihood of future al-Shabaab defectors who may be considering exchanging violence for a political path, said Haysom.

Early funding urged to sustain food aid operations in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Humanitarian agencies on Thursday called for early funding and support to help sustain aid operation in Somalia in 2019.

According to a report titled 2019 Somalia Humanitarian Needs Overview released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the humanitarian situation in Somalia has continued to improve due to good Gu rains and sustained humanitarian response.

However, the report said these gains are fragile and threatened by the poor performance of the current Deyr rain season, hence calling for early funding and support to sustain the aid operation in 2019.

Peter de Clercq, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, said in a separate statement Thursday that continued conflict and climatic shocks such as the underperforming Deyr season in 2018 threaten to reverse the gains made thus far.

"Collective international support will be required to sustain aid operations in 2019," the UN official said.

He said even with the improvements in food security, the humanitarian community cannot afford to be complacent, noting that humanitarian needs remain above the pre-crisis level from two years ago.

According to the UN, more than 4.2 million people in Somalia – one third of the population – will require humanitarian assistance and protection in 2019.

  Early funding urged to sustain food aid operations in Somalia | Coastweek

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- According to the UN, more than 4.2 million people in Somalia – one third of the population – will require humanitarian assistance and protection in 2019."Over 1.5 million people, mainly IDPs (internally displaced persons) and rural populations, face acute levels of food insecurity and require immediate assistance for their survival," XINHUA PHOTO
"Over 1.5 million people, mainly IDPs (internally displaced persons) and rural populations, face acute levels of food insecurity and require immediate assistance for their survival,"the UN official said.

He said malnutrition rates across the country have remained persistently high with nearly one million children expected to be acutely malnourished, including 173,600 expected to be severely malnourished.

Hamza Said Hamza, Somali minister for humanitarian affairs and disaster management, called on aid agencies to continue to prioritize life-saving assistance, in complementarity with development, recovery and resilience initiatives to address the underlying causes of recurring crises.

"The government is committed to continuing working with all partners to strengthen its capacity and to gradually take over full responsibility for the delivery of basic social services and to better address the underlying causes of humanitarian needs," Hamza said.

Ten al-Shabab militants killed in southwest Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Ten al-Shabab militants were killed on Thursday in an airstrike of an operation jointly conducted by the United States and Somali forces in southwest Somalia, state news agency reported.

The Somali National News Agency reported that the joint forces conducted the operation against al-Shabab militants at an area about 150 km southwest of the capital Mogadishu.

Al-Shabab militants did not comment on the latest operation so far.

This is the first operation conducted by the joint forces this year.

Somali senior police officer killed in drive-by shooting in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Suspected al-Shabab gunmen killed a senior police chief of Warta Nabada district in a drive-by shooting in the Somali capital Mogadishu, police said on Friday.

The official identified as Moalim Dahir Hussein was on his way to work when gunmen opened fire on his car in Hamar Bile village.

"We got the information about the killing of the police commissioner of Warta Nabada and his driver, we are trying to get more details on the incident," Mohamed Ali, a police officer, told Xinhua.

Witnesses said the armed men escaped from scene after assassinating the police officer.

"We heard gunshots and people said a police officer was killed in the attack," Muhidin Hajji, a resident, told Xinhua.

The militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the killing.

The incident comes barely three days after the al-Qaida affiliated group had fired mortar shells on African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) base camp, resulting in the injuries of two United Nations staff members and a contractor.

Somalia forces backed by the AMISOM ousted al-Shabab from the capital Mogadishu in August 2011, but the terror group is still in control of several areas in southern Somalia.


Somalia has declared United Nations envoy 'persona non-grata'



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