US Air Strikes Will Not Solve Somalia Crisis, warns Christian Aid

( [email protected] ) Jan 12, 2007 01:54 PM EST

Recent US air strikes against so-called Islamist fighters in Somalia will do little to bring peace and security to the region, Christian Aid has said.

Earlier this week US planes carried out strikes against alleged Islamic militants who are said to be linked to terrorist group al-Qaeda, and in particular with the 1998 US embassy bombings in east Africa.

Christian Aid reported, "The air strikes took place just a few days after the Union of Islamic Courts, which had taken control of much of central and southern Somalia during the past six months, was routed by soldiers from Ethiopia and Somalia's transitional government – which is now in control of the capital, Mogadishu."

The east African country has suffered banditry, violence and internecine conflict for many years, as well as periodic droughts and poor harvests, and Christian Aid fears that the American military action will only increase tension in the region and worsen the humanitarian problems.

Dereje Alemayheu, Christian Aid’s east Africa programme manager, said: "We believe military action is no substitute for a political process.

"The transitional government is only able to stay in power because of the presence of Ethiopian troops and this is not a sustainable situation.

"The situation in Somalia can only be resolved through a process of dialogue – a military response will not provide the solution.

"We strongly welcome statements by the EU calling for a revival of the peace process and a return to negotiations and we urge the Ethiopian and US governments to be extremely cautious before undertaking any further military action."

Alemayheu also said that only hours after the Union of Islamic Courts fled, militias loyal to warlords reappeared on the streets manning check-points they had previously used to terrorise and steal from the civilian population.