Sunday, December 23, 2007

Somali gov't official accuses UN of 'unbalanced' reports

NAIROBI (AFP) — A senior Somali government official accused the United Nations on Sunday of painting an exaggeratedly bleak picture of the situation in his country and spreading the Islamist insurgency's propaganda.

"We urge UN agencies to conduct a very fair assessment of the real situation on the ground and shun away from unbalanced reports," senior foreign ministry official Osman Mohamed Adam told AFP.

The ministry's permanent secretary complained that some UN agencies compiled reports based on information relayed by local NGOs with ties to the Islamist insurgents that Ethiopian-backed government forces have been battling all year.

"Many UN agencies don't want to collect data themselves but borrow reports from other organisations," he said.

"They don't talk about the achievements and the development made by the government," Adam added.

One report that irked the transitional government recently was a statement by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees claiming that Somalia was home to one million displaced people, including 600,000 who had fled fighting in the capital Mogadishu.

Adam said the Somali government was compiling its own figures on displacement and would publish them soon.

On Thursday, Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi argued that the United Nations was exaggerating the security and humanitarian emergency in Somalia.

"At the moment some UN agencies appear to be doing damage in respect of parroting totally unfounded reports by some agencies without in any way trying to verify the facts," Meles said.
"The situation there, as hard as it is, it could do with less hype and exaggeration," he added.
Ethiopia sent troops to neighbouring Somalia a year ago to help oust an Islamist militia which briefly took control of the country and imposed a strict Islamic law.

The militia has since reverted to guerrilla tactics, prompting daily street clashes in Mogadishu. The fighting has driven hundreds of thousands out of their homes and aggravated an already dire humanitarian situation.

Source: AFP

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