War-torn Somalia braces for fresh violence amid shaky peace accord
Failed talks and the killing of yet another aid worker highlight the growing humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.
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As a result, violence in Somalia has mushroomed in recent months into an Iraq-style insurgency, with nearly daily bombings and a growing spate of kidnappings. More than 8,000 civilians have been killed and at least 1 million uprooted by the violence since early last year, according to Al Jazeera. There are doubts that this week's accord will fare any better in bringing peace, a fact driven home by the death of a United Nations worker.Skip to next paragraph
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A Somali working for the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) has been killed after being abducted in southern Somalia.
Abdulkadir Diad Mohamed was abducted by unidentified men in the town of Dinsor and killed after trying to escape, the Rome-based agency said on Monday.
The very people trying to help Somalia's hungry millions are now being targeted themselves. Twenty aid workers have been assassinated so far this year, the majority in the past two months, in what humanitarians fear is an "orchestrated campaign" of terror....
Getting food into Somalia is becoming impossible. Around 90% of the UN World Food Programme's (WFP) deliveries are supposed to come by ship, but rampant piracy off the Somali coast has meant most shipping firms are too scared to deliver food. European navies have been escorting WFP shipments since November, but since the last Dutch escort at the end of last month no other country has offered to help.
What food is inside the country is either too expensive or cannot be safely delivered to those most in need. Roadblocks set up by militia groups regularly attack aid convoys and five drivers working for the WFP have been killed this year.
Part of the problem, a rising number of Western academics and Somali professionals argue, is that the bulk of outside efforts have concentrated on setting up a strong central government, which may be anathema in a country where authority tends to be diffuse and clan-based....
But there may be another answer: going local.
Many Somali intellectuals and Western academics are pushing a form of government that might be better suited to Somalia's fluid, fragmented and decentralized society. The new idea – actually an old idea that seems to enjoying something of a renaissance because of the transitional government's shortcomings – is to rebuild Somalia from the bottom up.
It is called the building-block approach. The first blocks would be small governments at the lowest levels, in villages and towns. These would be stacked to form district and regional governments. The last step would be uniting the regional governments in a loose national federation that controlled, say, currency and the pirate-infested shoreline, but did not sideline local leaders.