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Sunday, September 26, 1999 Published at 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK


World: Africa

Protesters call for peace in Somalia

Refugees: Caused by war and famine

By East Africa Correspondent Martin Dawes

Protests have been staged around Somalia after a doctor working for the UN Children's Fund, Unicef, was gunned down by bandits.


[ image: Civil war has torn apart Somalia]
Civil war has torn apart Somalia
In the town of Jowhar, an organised demonstration was designed to commemorate Dr Ayoub and protest at his killing by bandits 25 miles outside town.

He was the third humanitarian worker to be killed in southern Somalia in the past two months.

The demonstrations around Somalia at the death of Dr Ayoub were a conscious attempt by UN humanitarian agencies to encourage protest against feuding warlords who still control much of the country.

Gianfranco Rotigliano, head of Unicef's Somalia office, said: "We want the community to protest against this kind of violence, we want the community to strengthen their own mechanisms for bringing about peace in this area.

"We want the community to fight against those criminals and we want the community to make it clear that what they want is peace and justice."

Women power

It is the women and children who have borne the brunt of the suffering in Somalia's long-running crisis.

Fatima Hadjinoor says that women are turning their backs on clan leaders and are leading the campaign for peace, because it is their husbands and sons who are being killed.


[ image: UN forces retreated in humiliation from Somalia]
UN forces retreated in humiliation from Somalia
She said: "This mother, she has the same problem as her neighbour. Someone died because of the guns.

"Each mother knows the real point and we are ready to fight for it. We look for peace and we will get the guns from our men."

But frankly, the idea that women will take guns away from the fighters does not seem likely and there are no real solutions on how to restore anything like normality to large parts of Somalia.

Randolph Kent, the new head of UN operations for Somalia, wants communities to be held much more accountable for atrocities and, in an international climate where there is more concern for human rights, he wants lessons learnt elsewhere to be applied to Somalia.

He said: "We have to look at all the precedents and instruments that have developed since the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Kosovo and East Timor and ask what we can use to address the kind of specific situation here - without a sovereign government."

It is extremely unlikely that a Nato type intervention would happen. The UN tried that once in Somalia and it ended in a humiliating withdrawal.

But other options, such as an international justice process for those ordering the killings, may yet be considered.

In the meantime, well-intentioned people who are sick of their country's misery, can only protest and remember those who died trying to help.



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Unicef: Somalia

Somaliland on the Web

Somalia Online


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