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US Senators on surprise visit to Somalia
Sun, 01 May 2011 03:57:33 GMT
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A US delegation, headed by Illinois Republican Mark Kirk (pictured), arrived in Putland's port town of Bosaso on April 30, 2011.
A US Senate delegation has arrived in the autonomous region of Puntland in northeastern Somalia in a surprise visit to the conflict-plague nation.

The delegation, headed by Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, arrived in the port town of Bosaso, located about 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) north of Mogadishu, on Saturday and met with local authorities, a Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu reported.

Puntland, unlike the breakaway region of Somaliland to the west, does not consider itself an independent country.

Until now, it had supported Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is backed by the United Nations but has been greatly weakened by an ongoing war against al-Shabab fighters who are seeking its overthrow.

In January, Puntland's authorities announced that they had broken ties with the government based in Mogadishu.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Over the past two decades, up to one million people have lost their lives in the fighting between rival factions and due to famine and disease.

There are more than 1.4 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Somalia. Over 300,000 IDPs are sheltering in Mogadishu alone.

Most of the displaced live in poor and degrading conditions on makeshift sites in southern and central Somalia, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

MP/AGB/HRF
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