Christian Aid criticizes Somalia military air strikes

By staff writers
January 12, 2007

Recent US air strikes against militants in Somalia will do little to bring peace and security to the region, says leading UK-based international development agency Christian Aid.

US planes struck earlier this week in an attack on alleged Islamic military groups, some of whom are said to be members of an al-Qaeda cell, linked to the 1998 US embassy bombings in east Africa.

The air strikes took place just a few days after the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which had taken control of much of central and southern Somalia during the past six months, was routed by soldiers from Ethiopia and Somalia's transitional government – which is now in control of the capital, Mogadishu.

The African country has suffered from widespread banditry, violence and internecine conflict for many years, as well as periodic droughts and poor harvests.

Christian Aid, which is experienced in the region, says it fears that US military action will only crank up tension in the region and worsen the humanitarian problems faced by many communities.

Dereje Alemayheu, Christian Aid’s east Africa programme manager, declared yesterday: "We believe military action is no substitute for a political process."

He continued: "The transitional government is only able to stay in power because of the presence of Ethiopian troops and this is not a sustainable situation."

"The situation in Somalia can only be resolved through a process of dialogue – a military response will not provide the solution", said Mr Alemayheu.

He added: "We strongly welcome statements by the EU calling for a revival of the peace process and a return to negotiations and we urge the Ethiopian and US governments to be extremely cautious before undertaking any further military action."

Mr Alemayheu said that only hours after the Union of Islamic Courts fled, militias loyal to warlords reappeared on the streets manning check-points they had previously used to terrorise and steal from the civilian population.

He also warned that foreign intervention could have implications beyond Somalia’s borders. Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Eritrea all have strategic interests in events in Somalia – as does the US.

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