Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Sunday, September 22, 2002

International Day of Peace Marked for War-torn Somalia

The International Day of Peace was for the first time marked in three main towns in the war-ravaged country of Somalia on Saturday.


The International Day of Peace was for the first time marked in three main towns in the war-ravaged country of Somalia on Saturday.

Those cities are Merca, Kismaio and Mogadishu itself where mostof the disastrous armed conflicts have been taking place in the past 12 years of civil strife.

As for the port town of Merca, about 120 km south of Mogadishu,a huge peace rally was held in the town sponsored by the women organization known as IIDA.

Thousands of school children, hundreds of people from all walksof life and 300 school teachers have marched in the main street of the town.

The march, which started, from the entrance of the town has ended in the Peace Hall where the people have reached waving flags and green leaves in support of the peace day.

The chairwoman of the IIDA organization, Halima Abdi Arush who addressed the crowd, said the women have been the most seriously war-affected people of Somalia.

"We, the women, need the peace more than any group within the society," she said, "and it is only through peace that our countrycan prosper and develop."

Prior to her speech, musicians have played traditional and national songs most of whom advocating for the peace.

"It is only peace that could be as good to the people as the breast feeding for the children," sang the singers.

In Mogadishu, the Somali Youth Congress, a group of youngsters have marked the day in Amira hotel where also dignitaries and several representatives from the UN agencies have participated.

Ali Shiddoh Abdi, an old man who was a member of the former Somali Youth League (SYL), which fought for the independence of Somalia, has addressed the crowd and told them that it is the clan-division, which stands in the way of reconciliation.

Also, a seminar has opened for the youth to learn about the conflict resolution and the root causes of all armed conflicts.

But, an armed confrontation was taking place in north Mogadishubetween rival militiamen when the peace loving people have been marking the peace day in hotel Amira.

At least two people are known to have died and several others were wounded when militiamen loyal to warlord Muse Sudi Yalahow have tried to impose tax on the charcoal ward of the Shibbis market.

Militiamen from the area took out their weapons and refused to pay any sort of tax from the warlord.

The exchange of the gunfire has subsided without any peace settlement between the two sides.

Also in the southern port town of Kismaio, 500 km south of Mogadishu, the peace day has been marked in the Tawakal hotel where the leaders of the Jubba Valley Alliance have also attended.

It was not just a marking of the peace day in Kismaio, but a new center for the human rights called Sean Deveroux Center for the Human Rights was opened Saturday.

Sean Deveroux was a British aid worker who was killed in Kismaio town by Somali gunmen in 1993 just before the American-ledmultinational forces have intervened the famine in Somalia.

The 55th session of the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to designate Sept. 21 as the International Day of Peace,declaring it as a day of global ceasefire and nonviolence and inviting all nations and people to commemorate it by honoring a 24-hour cessation of hostilities.

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