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African Union says Somalia being ignored

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African Union says Somalia being ignored


A call for change rang loud and clear on the first day of the African Union’s summit in Ethiopia.

But the first appeal did not fall in favour of Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi who was blocked in his bid to stay on as chairman for another year.

African leaders chose Malawi’s president to succeed him.

But they failed again to convince the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the need to pledge peacekeepers in Somalia.

The AU’s 5,000 strong force is struggling to hold back Islamist rebels and is hemmed into a few streets of the capital Mogadishu.

Heavily armed pirates from the lawless Horn of Africa nation are terrorising shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and strategic Gulf of Aden, which links Europe to Asia.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told delegates he admired the work of the AU in Somalia but that it was not “sufficient.”

Although Ban acknowledged that recent events there have a direct bearing on global security, he said a peacekeeping operation is still under consideration.

Violence in Somalia has killed 21,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and uprooted 1.5 million people, a contributing cause of one of the world’s worst humanitarian emergencies.

AU leaders said unless something is done urgently, Somalia risks becoming a forgotten conflict.

The UN Secretary General also urged delegates to make a renewed effort to meet the Millennium Development Goals, which include reducing poverty, disease and child mortality, ahead of their target date of 2015.

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