UN envoy warns against renewed violence in central Somalia

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Michael Keating, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), briefs the Security Council. UN Photo/Kim Haughton
The UN envoy for Somalia has expressed concern over renewed violence between rival states in the central Somali town of Galkayo, which killed at least three people and injured several others on Friday.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Michael Keating, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, called on the warring states of Puntland and Galmudug to honor a ceasefire agreement reached last month.
“Puntland and Galmudug must resolve their differences in a non-violent manner and immediately agree on steps to dismantle the roadblocks, reopen the roads, and pull back the forces without further delay. Any spoiler against peace and stability should be scrutinized,” Keating said.
Galkayo is currently divided into two parts, governed by Galmudug and Puntland respectively. The town has been plagued by recurrent clashes between the neighboring states over its control.
Recent fighting in Galkayo that first broke out on Oct. 7 has killed more than 45 people and displaced tens of thousands.
Keating said the situation in Galkayo has raised serious humanitarian concerns.
He said trucks carrying humanitarian food supplies for people affected by drought had been blocked on the northern side of Galkayo over the past three weeks due to road blockades.
Since the initial withdrawal of forces on Nov. 18, the joint committee of local authorities and elders from the two states has made efforts to sustain the ceasefire through dialogue.
However, a stalemate in the negotiations over removing roadblocks installed by both states and opening the roads is putting the ceasefire in serious jeopardy.
The tension came amid food insecurity in areas that are usually reached by humanitarian groups through Galkayo.
“It is unprecedented for humanitarian supplies to be denied access by either side,” said Keating.
He called on the authorities of Galmudug and Puntland to immediately find a solution to the blockades to guarantee the safety and free movement of relief workers and supplies.
Keating said the continued tension could prompt another mass displacement in Galkayo, where fighting had displaced an estimated 90,000 people since October — about 30,000 displaced people have not returned home due to fear of renewed fighting.

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