15/08/07 (B408) BBC – Le Premier Ministre somalien en faveur de la création d’une “zone verte” à Mogadiscio – Somalia plans for a “Green Zone” (En Anglais – Info lectrice)

Somalia’s interim prime minister has said the country’s capital, Mogadishu, needs a “Green Zone”.

Ali Mohammed Ghedi said the central secure district would be similar to that in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.

He said work was under way to create the area to protect international workers and “vulnerable people”.

Mogadishu has been the scene for months of skirmishes between troops supporting the transitional government and both clan-based and Islamist insurgents.

A local human rights group in Mogadishu said at least 31 people have died in fighting there this week.

More than 400,000 people are estimated by the UN to have fled the Somali capital in the last four months because of instability and fighting.

‘More troops’

Mr Ghedi also criticised the UN Security Council for apparently failing to support the deployment of peacekeeping troops to Somalia.

“I think it’s appropriate to ask the security members states or the United Nations why they are giving so much emphasis on Darfur and not to Somalia,” he said, Reuters news agency reports.

This comes just weeks after a UN Security Council resolution authorised a hybrid force – UN and African Union (AU) troops – of 26,000 to Sudan’s Darfur region.

Mr Ghedi said the current AU mission in Mogadishu, which has 1,600 Ugandan soldiers, needs to be bolstered.

The chairman of Elman Human Rights, the local humanitarian group, told the Associated Press news agency on Tuesday that Mogadishu had seen the most violent 24 hours in two months, when insurgents attacked government bases.

‘Malnourished’

Meanwhile, the UN has declared an area of southern Somalia a humanitarian emergency, after finding that one in 20 children are so severely malnourished they will die without outside help.

The UN survey says that 1.5m people in the Lower and Middle Shabelle region – normally the breadbasket of Somalia – have been hit by poor rains, floods and ongoing conflict.

This has resulted in the lowest cereal crop in a decade.

Last December, the interim government, backed by Ethiopia, ousted the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), an Islamist group that had taken control of much of southern Somalia.

A reconciliation conference is under way in Mogadishu but Islamists and the city’s clan elders have refused to attend unless the Ethiopians leave the country.