First Published: 2008-03-21

 
Security Council weigh more UN role in Somalia
 

15-member body discuss various scenarios about ways of increasing UN involvement in Somalia.

 

Middle East Online

By Gerard Aziakou - UNITED NATIONS

Somalia in need of a strong peacekeeping force

The Security Council on Thursday reviewed options for increased UN involvement in strife-torn Somalia but key members ruled out an early deployment of a full-fledged peacekeeping force.

The 15-member body heard a briefing from the UN special envoy to the country, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, who told reporters afterwards that "there is renewed interest in Somalia," a country wracked by civil war for the past 17 years.

"Somalia has been neglected for a long time," he told reporters, adding that Somalis "are still paying" for the failure of the UN peace mission during the 1990s.

Thursday's council discussions focused on four scenarios laid out by UN chief Ban Ki-moon in his latest report on the volatile Horn of Africa country.

They were worked out by UN planners who sent a fact-finding team to look at alternatives to the African Union force now in Ethiopia (AMISOM) and to the Ethiopian troops propping up the Somali government in its battle with Islamist insurgents.

Ould Abdallah said the UN Department of Peace Operation planned to send a new mission to Somalia next month.

Under consideration are relocating Nairobi-based UN personnel dealing with Somalia to Mogadishu, boosting the UN presence in Mogadishu and other areas or south and central Somalia or deploying up to 28,500 UN troops and police provided there is "a viable and inclusive political process and an agreement on the cessation of hostilities."

Another option would involve sending "an impartial stabilization force formed by a coalition of willing states of about 8,000 highly trained and capable troops, together with police officers," before political and security agreements have been finalized ahead of a withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.

"We are going to examine those options," US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters.

He said it was appropriate for the council to consider "an enhanced UN presence" that might do more "in terms of peacekeeping and to support the African forces that are there."

But, he added, "we are not close to deploying a peacekeeping force."

While noting that Somalia "has been a failed state for 17 years," British Ambassador John Sawers said there was "now an opportunity to move forward."

But "until there is further progress on the political front, it is difficult to see scope for a fully-fledged peacekeeping force," he added. "The stages set out in the secretary general's report realistically match what will be required as the international community steps up its engagement."

Ethiopian troops came to the transitional Somali government's rescue in 2006 and defeated an Islamist militia that briefly controlled large parts of the country.

Remnants of the militia have since reverted to guerrilla tactics, launching almost daily hit-and-run attacks against government targets in Mogadishu.

Last month, the UN Security Council voted to extend for another six months the mandate of AMISOM.

AMISOM, which currently consists of roughly 2,300 troops from Uganda and Burundi, according to Ban, is ultimately to number around 8,000 soldiers tasked with stabilizing Somalia.

Thursday, six people were killed in clashes between Somali soldiers and insurgents in southern Mogadishu, residents said.

Eleven others were wounded in the clashes that erupted when insurgents attacked soldiers who were attempting to loot a grocery in Hawlwadag district, they added.

 

Iraq investigates Mosul civilian deaths

Iran to symbolically sanction 15 US companies

Syria fighting damages IS-held dam posing rising water risk

Yemeni rebel supporters flood streets on conflict’s anniversary

Cities, monuments dim lights for Earth Hour

In Algeria, everyone wants to be MP, few likely to vote

Iran to appeal seizure of 9/11 compensation money

Hamas shuts Gaza crossing after assassination of official

Deep concern as Israeli laws entrench the occupation

Turkey’s Kurds could sway tight referendum vote

Al-Qaeda, on the rise again, hits Assad where it hurts

US and allies talk of post-ISIS future, but have no plan

Israel’s air strike on Syria spooks Middle East

Gunmen kill Hamas official in Gaza

Separate Syria air strikes kill at least 32

UN says Israel has ignored resolution on illegal settlements

Veteran politician says Turkey referendum a 'test' for Kurds

More Algerian women in work, but husbands control wages

Beirut university settles US lawsuit over Hezbollah

1.1 million weekend travellers from Dubai hit by laptop ban

Shiite Lebanese women endure painful custody battles

Russia, China seek Iraq chemical weapons probe

Besieged Syrians struggle with dwindling dialysis supplies

Syria army retakes Damascus areas from rebels

Syria says peace talks must first focus on 'terrorism'

12 Syrian refugees dead after boat sinks off Turkey coast

Mosul displaced head into unknown

As war keeps them away, Yemen children dream of school

Ousted Egyptian president Mubarak freed from detention

Iraq's Sadr threatens boycott if election law unchanged

Israel, US fail to reach settlement agreement

Yemen rebel missile kills Saudi soldier

Turkish FM in Switzerland amid rising tensions with Europe

Two more 'significant arrests' over London attack

Britain arrests eight as IS claims Westminster attack

Man attempts to drive into crowd of shoppers in Belgium’s Antwerp

Palestinian FA chief says ball in Israel's court

Israel arrests Jewish teen over anti-Semitic terror threats

An Egypt court is to reopen a corruption probe into Mubarak

Bahrain frees award-winning AFP photographer

Erdogan slams 'pressure' on Turks in Bulgaria ahead of vote

Israel policeman suspended after caught on video beating Palestinian

Turkey summons Russia envoy over soldier death in Syria

Bahrain sentences three to death for police bombings

UN-backed Syria talks restart in Geneva