Saturday, 12 April 2008

Somalia - the crisis continues

Today is the first Saturday since January when I haven't had constituency engagements in the diary. (Technically speaking, I didn't have any last week either, but I had to get up at 4am to get to Stansted so that didn't count). So it's a day of leisure today - at the moment I'm listening to Any Questions (Alan Johnson, always worth a listen, plus William Hague and Shirley Williams), updating the website and reading the weekend newspapers on line. My main mission for today is to discover where the recycling bins for my block of flats have disappeared to - otherwise I soon won't be able to get out of the front door for piles of newspapers.

Earlier today I heard a disturbing report on Radio 4's "From our Own Correspondent" about the dreadful - and deteriorating - situation in Somalia. It gets very little coverage, because it's simply too dangerous for journalists and reporters to go there, but the country is in a state of complete lawlessness and increasingly people are fleeing Mogadishu for refuge in neighbouring countries. Efforts to get the African Union to play a peacekeeping role have so far been unsuccessful, apart from a thousand or so Ugandan troops who, given their limited numbers and the ferocity of the fighting between the rebel warlords and the Ethiopians, aren't really able to do much. I can't see much hope for the immediate future either, given the situations in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Sudan, which command much more international attention. Worth listening to the webcast of today's report, if you get a chance.

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