Ethiopia intervening in Somalia 'a risk'
24 November 2011, 16:42
Nairobi - The United Nations warned on Thursday that
Ethiopia's reported sending of troops into Somalia to fight Islamist
rebels could worsen what is already the world's most severe humanitarian
"Local sources report that hundreds of Ethiopian troops
entered Somalia on November 20 opening a new front against al-Shabaab,"
the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a
"The humanitarian community is deeply concerned about the
consequences that this intervention could have on the already fragile
humanitarian situation due to access to the population," the report
"The intensification of the conflict in Somalia threatens
to increase internal displacement," it added, the first time the United
Nations has warned of the potentially dangerous consequences of
Witnesses told AFP on November 19 that convoys
of lorries and hundreds of Ethiopian troops crossed in south and central
Somalia. Addis Ababa has denied its forces have crossed into the
About 250 000 people in south and central
Somalia face imminent starvation, the UN report added, despite massive
international efforts to get emergency aid out to critically affected
The al-Qaeda linked Shabaab are now battling Kenyan
forces in the south, Ugandan and Burundian African Union forces in
Mogadishu, and face Ethiopian troops in the west.
Efforts to restore stability
the UN last week downgraded the number of famine zones by half,
reclassifying three regions at emergency levels, the humanitarian crisis
in central and southern Somalia remains the worst in the world.
neighbours have recently renewed efforts to restore stability there
after two decades of chaos, with Nairobi last week saying it was willing
to deploy troops for the African Union force protecting the Somali
Ethiopia pulled out its soldiers from Somalia in 2009
after a two-year invasion that defeated an Islamist movement, but the
group's military wing, the Shebab, regrouped to battle the troops and
have waged a bloody war since.
Ugandan and Burundian soldiers
making up the 9 700-strong AU force have been battling the Shabaab in
the capital Mogadishu since deploying in 2007.
Ethiopia has said
the decision on whether it will send troops to Somalia will be taken
Friday at a heads of state meeting in Addis Ababa of the regional body,
the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.