UN gets back offices in Somali provisional capital

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has resumed its humanitarian operations in Jowhar, temporary seat of Somalia's transitional government, after the local administration returned its compound, a statement said here Tuesday.

"Control of the UNICEF compound in Jowhar, Somalia has been returned to the UN. The chairman of the Middle Shabelle Administration Mohammed Omar Habeb aka Mohammed Dhere handed the keys to UN national staff earlier today," a statement from the UN Development Program Somalia Office said.

"The national staff had been denied access to the compound since Sunday following the relocation of international staff last week as a precautionary measure due to the recent military movements in and around the area," the UN said.

Tension has been building in Jowhar following the arrival last week of militia groups.

The UN agencies and foreign humanitarian organizations have already evacuated staff from Jowhar, fearing clashes between followers and opponents of President Abdullahi Yusuf.

The UNICEF's numerous projects in Jowhar is run by local staff following the evacuation of 13 international UN staff last week.

"The UN is constantly monitoring the situation with the aim of returning the international staff to Jowhar once the security situation allows. All other UN activities in Somalia continue uninterrupted," the statement said.

UNICEF was operating several projects in Jowhar including education, health centers, water, HIV/AIDS, youth projects and other humanitarian activities.

Its offices in the provisional capital were also the temporary base for other UN agencies.

The obvious increase in tensions between the Mogadishu and Jowhar fractions has caused renewed fear in the international community, observing that the 14th peace attempt in Somalia is slowly crumbling.

But President Yusuf's allies say the troops were part of a reorganization of armed forces to secure the government's base.

The president had said in July that he would recruit militia forces from his northern stronghold of Puntland and other parts of the Horn of Africa nation to join a new army.

His fledgling government has insisted on operating in Jowhar, after relocating from the Kenyan capital Nairobi in June this year.

Yusuf says Mogadishu is still too unsafe for the installation of a central authority.

Somalia has had no operational government for the past 14 years, following the collapse in 1991 of the government of the late president Muhammad Siad Barre. Civil war erupted soon after Barre was toppled, as various factions leaders fought for power.

Source: Xinhua

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