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UN Denies Suspension of Operations in Somalia after Attacks
    2008-02-12 19:16:54     Xinhua
The United Nations humanitarian agency on Tuesday denied reports that the world body has suspended its operations in Somalia following attacks on its compound in Mogadishu, the capital on Monday.

The UN said in its news release on Tuesday that although there were no casualties in the attacks, the world body was forced to suspend operations in Mogadishu as well as the major towns of Afgooye and Kismayo for the remainder of this week.

But a statement from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the report was incorrect as there were no plans to suspend its operations in the Horn of Africa nation which has been rocked by violence between transitional government and insurgents.

"While the UN has temporarily suspended missions to certain limited areas of Somalia, while a reassessment of the security environment due to the many security incidents in the past two weeks is undertaken, there has been no decision to suspend its operations in Somalia," OCHA said in a statement.

"Operations, while impacted, continue with the support of both international and national staff and local implementing partners on the ground," OCHA said.

The UN news release said a number of international non- governmental organizations (NGOs) have also temporarily suspended staff travel to the countryside, where similar attacks have taken place in the past week.

Sources said the attackers struck at the UN Development Program (UNDP) offices several times overnight after ordering residents in the area to switch off their lights late on Friday.

The new constraints compound other obstacles to aid deliveries, including roadblocks, shelling and violence as well as rising threats against aid workers, who are at times directly targeted in Somalia.

The interim government and its Ethiopian military allies are facing a persistent insurgency in Mogadishu by remnants of a hardline Islamist movement they routed just over a year ago.

Last month, a roadside bomb near the southern Somali town of Kismayo killed three humanitarian workers serving with the international NGOs.

The worsening security situation has also led to an increase in the vulnerable population. Over the past two months, some 40,000 people have fled Mogadishu.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) puts the total number of those displaced by the ongoing fighting since the end of last October at over 294,000.
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