NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) — The United Nations plans to move its foreign missions and organizations back inside Somalia after an absence of more than 17 years, a senior United Nations official said Sunday.
The United Nations left Somalia for Nairobi in 1993 because of security concerns and near-daily gun battles and mortar attacks in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Most embassies and foreign charities had withdrawn for Nairobi years earlier for that reason.
The Somali government has been urging the United Nations to reconsider its withdrawal.
Somalia has had no effective central authority since 1991, and its Transitional Federal Government controls only a small section of the capital. Augustine Mahiga, the United Nations special representative for the Horn of Africa, said an increase in African Uniontroops to 8,100 from 6,200 had improved security for the move, which could happen within 60 days. The African Union assigned more troops to Somalia after the Shabab, an Islamist insurgency in Somalia, claimed responsibility for deadly bombings in Uganda last month.
Mr. Mahiga also said the United Nations hopes to establish a presence in the breakaway Somali republic of Somaliland and the enclave of Puntland.
His announcement came as a pro-Shabab militia in Puntland fought with Puntland security forces for the second time this month. Gen. Abdisamad Ali Shire, Puntland’s vice president, told reporters there that his forces had killed 18 militants.