Somalia has endured 17 years of chaos and civil war

It is a forgotten war to many ... Somalia is such a tangle of political and military interests that it is hard to know the good guys from the bad guys. From Ethiopian troops backing the Transitional Federal Government, to the splintering Islamic groups fighting a guerilla war against them, it is the civilians who are caught in the middle - starving and dying.

Norway has just hosted a meeting of the International Contact Group for Somalia to discuss the political process, the security situation, and desperate humanitarian conditions, which have been shaped by 17 years of chaos and civil war.

But as politicians meet in Europe, the people of Somalia continue to be caught in the crossfire. Last week a raid on the Al Hidya mosque left 21 people dead, including the imam. Amnesty International accused Ethiopian troops of "extrajudicial killings" during a weekend of heavy fighting between Ethiopian troops and Islamist insurgents.

Amnesty said 41 children arrested in the raid were being detained at an Ethiopian military base in the Somali capital. Ethiopia denied the charges of executions, and says the children will be released once they have been investigated. The US state department has remained silent in the middle of all this.

Joining the discussion on this volatile region of the Horn of Africa is Jeffrey Gettleman, the East Africa bureau chief of The New York Times, who has been based in Nairobi, Kenya, since 2006. He has written extensively on the crisis in Somalia. And John Prendergast, the co-chair of the Enough Project, founded in 2007 to find sustainable solutions for on-going crises in Africa. He is also a well-known human rights activist who has advised the US government extensively on African conflicts.

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This episode of Riz Khan aired on Tuesday, April 29, 2008

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