Mogadishu, Somalia (UPI) Aug 2, 2010
More than 120 Somalis immigrants who had been jailed in Saudi Arabia arrived in the capital Mogadishu after being deported.
Their arrival comes as the United Nations in Geneva urged Saudi Arabia to reconsider its policy of sending Somalis back to the war-torn country, in particular Mogadishu where fierce street battles last week killed at least 13 civilians and wounded 40 others.
Among the dead were women and children who were killed when a shell reportedly landed by mistake in the central Bakara market.
The fighting broke out between Western-backed government forces and the Hisbul Islam militia, which claimed it attacked the palace of President Sheik Sharif Sheikh Ahmed just north of the capital.
Several groups, including the al-Qaida linked al-Shabaab movement and also government forces with the help of 6,100 Africa Union peacekeepers, control various parts of Mogadishu and the surrounding countryside.
The African Union said at its summit in Uganda last month that another 2,000 peacekeepers would be deployed in Somalia. The additional troops will be airlifted into Somalia in the next 40 days by planes from the United States, the European Union and Algeria, Augustine Mahiga, head of the U.N. Political Office for Somalia, said in a statement.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees last week condemned the continuing violence between government forces and the al-Shabaab militia in Mogadishu.
"Many more (civilians) have been driven out of their homes by the continuing violence," UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said in Geneva.
"UNHCR deplores the continuation of indiscriminate fighting in Somalia where civilian facilities and homes in heavily populated areas of the capital become targets."
Fleming also said the UNHCR was "deeply troubled" by reports of continuing deportations of Somali refugees and asylum seekers. Local UNHCR partners in Mogadishu believe around 1,000 Somalis were deported from Saudi Arabia in June and close to that in July, she said.
The majority of deportees are women, including some extremely vulnerable cases, such as that of a split refugee family headed by a young woman, Fleming said. The woman fled Somalia in 2007, was detained on her way to the market in Saudi Arabia and deported to Mogadishu with her two infants.
The UNHCR is repeating its call for governments to assess asylum claims from people from central and southern Somalia "in the broadest possible way."
Governments that haven't granted refugee status to those fleeing Somalia could at least extend "complementary forms of international protection, which would allow Somalis legal residence until conditions improve for safe return."
More than 300,000 people out of Somalia's estimated 1.4 million internally displaced population are sheltering in Mogadishu, the UNHCR estimates.
No Somalian government has controlled the entire country since military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.
Barre gained power in a coup in 1969 and fostered a personality cult that included portraits of him in the company of Marx and Lenin. He followed a mixture of so-called scientific socialism based on the Koran and Marx, with a heavy dose of nationalism.
But Barre was ousted in 1991 by Ali Mahdi Muhammad, a businessman hailing from the sub-clan of Abgaal. Clan fighting soon ensued and the country degenerated into militias fighting militias.
Barre died in January 1995.
earlier related report
Launched in June 2008, "the EU's security sector reform mission in Guinea-Bissau, having completed its mandate, will close down on 30 September 2010," the EU said in a statement.
"Political instability and the lack of respect for the rule of law in the country make it impossible for the EU to deploy a followup mission, as originally foreseen, without compromising its own principles," it said.
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton expressed "dismay" last month at the appointment of General Antonio Indjai, who she said was responsible for a mutiny that overthrew the former army chief in April.
"Following the mutiny of April 2010, the EU repeatedly expressed its concern regarding the violation of constitutional order, illegal detention of civilian and military leaders and impunity of perpetrators," the EU statement said.
Indjai's nomination "constitutes another setback to the process of democratic consolidation and confirms that the conditions for deployment of the new mission are not met," it charged.
The troubled west African nation has been plagued by coups since independence from Portugal in 1974 and instability has attracted South American drug cartels who now use the country as a transit point to Europe.
In March 2009 president Joao Bernardo Vieira was killed by troops apparently in revenge for the assassination hours earlier of the armed forces chief.
Ashton called following the April mutiny for a full review of the EU's engagement in Guinea-Bissau, which falls under a June 2000 treaty between the EU and 79 developing countries.
The Cotonou Agreement conditions EU economic and development aid on the respect of certain criteria including political rights.
The EU has allocated Guinea-Bissau a total aid package worth 102.8 million euros for the period 2008-2013.
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GBissau records veterans in demobilisation drive
Bissau (AFP) July 31, 2010
Guinea Bissau has identified nearly 6,000 military veterans, according to a census released Friday as part of a raft of security reforms aimed at ending a cycle of coups by an overly-powerful army. "Our teams traveled across the country to identify and record all veterans" from Guinea Bissau's 1962-1973 independence war against Portugal, said Malam Djassi, head of the census commission. "We ... read more
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