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Uncertainty about UN force for Somalia

Uncertainty about UN force for Somalia

In the current volatile and extremely dangerous climate in Somalia, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that "uncertainties" remain about whether a U.N. peacekeeping force is the right tool to support the new government's efforts to establish itself and promote national reconciliation.
Ban said in his quarterly report to the U.N. Security Council that he would provide further advice and recommendations on the deployment of a peacekeeping operation by April 15 and will continue to update and revise contingency plans for a U.N. force.
The Security Council adopted a resolution in December expressing its intention to establish a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Somalia, but putting off a decision for several months in order to assess the volatile situation in the Horn of Africa nation. The council said the decision should be made by June 1.
Somalia has been beset by 18 years of anarchy, violence and an Islamic insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing for their lives. The African Union, which has about 3,500 troops protecting vital installations in the capital, Mogadishu, has been pressing for months for the U.N. to take over peacekeeping _ and so was the former U.S. administration of President George W. Bush, but President Barack Obama is reported to be less enthusiastic.
Ban said he was encouraged by the expansion of Somalia's parliament and its election of Sheik Ahmed Sheik Sharif as the country's leader after the former president resigned, and by "the determination of the people and leaders of Somalia to carry on with the reconciliation process."
At the same time, he said "the security situation in Somalia remained volatile" with widespread fighting in Mogadishu following the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces in January, and insurgent fighters gaining control over additional towns and territory although they are increasingly facing armed resistance from clans and other local militias.
More than 3 million Somalis need humanitarian assistance, and in many parts of the country the rates of acute malnutrition remain above emergency thresholds, he said, but "the instability generated by the fighting, ongoing abductions and a general atmosphere of fear continue to impede the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance to the many people who need it."
In 2008, Ban said 34 aid workers were killed in Somalia, 26 were abducted, and 13 were still in captivity at the end of January. "I therefore pay tribute to all the organizations and personnel involved in the delivery of humanitarian assistance ... (who) continue to discharge their responsibilities in an extremely dangerous and stressful environment," he said.
The secretary-general said a technical mission he sent to the region to look into the possibility of a U.N. peacekeeping operation reported that "basic conditions" need to be in place for a mission to be effective.
He said "important benchmarks" would be the formation of a government of national unity including those still outside the peace process, the establishment and initial operation of a Joint Security Force in Mogadishu, a credible cease-fire, the lifting of illegal checkpoints, consent to the U.N. deployment by all major parties, and adequate pledges of troops and equipment.
According to the report, none of these "benchmarks" have been met. Ban said in November that he had asked at least 50 nations and three international organizations to support the council's request for a multinational force to stabilize Somalia and received "very lukewarm or negative" replies.
Ban outlined plans to provide additional U.N. logistical support to the African Union force so it can beef up its troop strength to the 8,000 originally authorized. He also said the U.N. peacekeeping department estimates that 22,5000 troops and over 2,600 police would be needed for a U.N. peacekeeping mission.
"I note that the council has not yet made a decision to deploy a peacekeeping operation, and that there remains uncertainty about whether peacekeeping is the right tool to support the political process in Somalia," the secretary-general said.
Ban urged international support to build up the AU force and Somali security and rule-of-law institutions as well as for efforts to promote peace and national reconciliation. He said he will convene a donors conference in the coming days to seek contributions for trust funds for the AU force and to build Somali institutions.


Updated : 2021-06-23 07:09 GMT+08:00