Somali, Palestinian delegations push demands ahead of non-aligned summit in Uganda

KAMPALA, UGANDA — The summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) got underway this week in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, where delegations from Somalia and the Palestinian people are lobbying members for support. While the Palestinians are calling on members to find a way to end the conflict in Gaza, Somalia says it needs support to maintain its territorial integrity.

Ninety-three out of 120 NAM nations are represented in Kampala for the 19th summit of the movement.

For the plenary session that began Monday, Arab nations made clear that Gaza must be the focus of the meeting.

Delegates said the NAM summit must find the right language to address what they called “the violent and savage aggression by the state of Israel in perpetuating a genocide” in Gaza.

A delegate from Mauritius said the summit must make a political declaration on the war, which broke out October 7 after the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostage, 105 of whom were released in November. Israel’s military response reportedly has killed more than 24,000 Palestinians.

Riyadh Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, said he does not expect any country to disagree with calling for a cease-fire and humanitarian assistance for the 2.3 million Palestinians displaced from their homes.

“We are not asking for anything other than standing with us against this aggression,” he said. “We are facing a massive calamity. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration from us to expect support from our brothers and sisters from the movement.”

Uganda recently took over chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement from Azerbaijan.

Vincent Bagiire, the permanent secretary at the Ugandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says the agenda for the plenary session will be decided by consensus.

“We have not subjected the matter of Palestine and Gaza to whether it should be the major topic that we discuss,” he said. “So, Uganda will focus on creating cohesion within the movement to ensure that we can work together as a movement for the good of humanity.”

Delegates from Somalia are calling for the 120-state movement to support its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Early this month, Ethiopia signed an agreement with Somaliland, a breakaway region from Somalia, giving Ethiopia access to the sea. In return, Ethiopia would consider recognizing Somaliland as an independent country.

Hamza Adan Haadow, permanent secretary in the Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says the agreement “violates our rights, our integrity and our unity.” “So, that’s why we are pushing, and we believe that the peace that we had will continue if the Non-Alignment Movement stands with us,” he added.

Both the Somali and Palestinian representatives have five days to convince delegates to prioritize their concerns and come up with resolutions before heads of state fly to Uganda for the summit at the end of this week.

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