highest-ranking United Nations official to visit Somalia for 10 years has
arrived in the capital, Mogadishu.
John Holmes, the UN’s emergency relief co-ordinator, said he was there to
pressure the Somali government to let humanitarian aid reach its people.
A car bomb killed four people near the UN compound in the south of the city
as Mr Holmes’ convoy left the airport.
The visit comes two weeks after Somalia’s government declared victory over
a bloody Islamic insurgency.
Senior intelligence official Ibrahim Mohamed Ahmed was one of those killed
in the blast, a security source told Reuters news agency.
The source said the explosion was unrelated to Mr Holmes’ visit.
Mr Holmes said the government had to look after its civilians, who have borne
the brunt of years of fighting.
“It is their responsibility to look after civilians, to protect civilians
and at the very least not to obstruct aid,” he said.
But he said the African Union could not boost its peacekeeping forces in the
capital until the government improved security.
On arrival in Mogadishu, Mr Holmes visited a cholera treatment centre next
to the UN compound before meeting President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.
The capital has been mostly calm since the government declared victory over
the insurgents and many residents are starting to return to their homes.
Some 1,600 people were killed in six weeks of clashes between Ethiopian government-backed
troops and Islamist and clan fighters, local aid groups say.
Up to 400,000 of Mogadishu’s 2m residents fled to squalid camps or makeshift
Somalia has not had a working government since a civil war erupted 16 years