Thursday, October 04, 2007

Somalia’s Crisis: Challenges to Peace

Featured Speakers: Jim Swan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Leslie Lefkow, Human Rights Watch, Geoff Loane, International Committee of the Red Cross, Ken Menkhaus, Davidson College.

Wednesday’s panel focused on the rise of violence and lack of stability in Somalia. Jim Swan opened the panel discussion by explaining the role of the U.S. in Somalia and the three goals that must be achieved in order to establish a stable Somali government by 2009. He spoke of the African Union’s stabilization forces and the work of the donor supporters to achieve humanitarian assistance, which he believes are already making some progress. However, he stressed the importance of inclusive dialogue between the TFG and moderate opposition in order to achieve lasting stability.

Leslie Lefkow then spoke of the human rights violations she came across while collecting eye-witness testimonies from Somali civilians in Somalia and surrounding countries. More specifically, she explained that insurgents often target civilians and engage in cruel treatment of their captured. Lefkow also discussed the Ethiopian forces that often intentionally target civilian hospitals and the TFG itself, who she believes is responsible for the bulk of lootings and mass arrests in the region. She asserted that there must be an increased human rights presence in Somalia and it is essential to address accountability in these human rights violations.

Geoff Loane reiterated Lefkow’s sentiment that there is an immediate need for increased humanitarian assistance in Somalia. The discussion closed with a talk by Ken Menkhaus, a leading scholar on Somalia. He expressed his thoughts about the current situation in the country and described what he believes are some of the greatest challenges to peace in Somalia. Echoing the speakers before him, Menkhaus affirmed that more attention must be given to Somalia and increased humanitarian assistance is essential.

Sponsor: Center for Strategic and International Studies Africa Program and the U.S. Institute of Peace

Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Date: Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Time: 3:00 – 5:00 pm

Approximate Number of Attendees: 75

Intern Attending: Abby Smardon

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