Annan considers setting up "Committee of Friends" for Somalia

Annan considers setting up "Committee of Friends" for Somalia

Concerned about the lack of progress in Somalia's peace process and the deteriorating humanitarian situation there, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is considering establishing a "Committee of Friends" for the war-torn country.

In his latest periodic report to the Security Council on Somalia, the Secretary-General says the process of rebuilding national institutions in that country should go forward with strong and impartial efforts at local reconciliation. To help that process, Mr. Annan intends to consult with all concerned parties on setting up a Committee of Friends of Somalia that could bring together interested countries and organizations in the search for a lasting peace, and to help mobilize funds for rehabilitation and development.

In recent weeks, challenges to local political authorities in "Somaliland" and "Puntland" have led to uncertainty regarding the political stability of those regions, the Secretary-General reports. In addition, an estimated 750,000 people are in need of assistance in Somalia to cover food shortfalls stemming from past harvest failure.

Mr. Annan concludes that it is not possible at present to recommend the deployment of a post-conflict peace-building mission in Somalia, although he intends to submit a detailed proposal to the Security Council once the situation there improves sufficiently.

In the same report, the Secretary-General expresses concern about the human rights situation in Somalia and the fact that, despite the best efforts of UN and other humanitarian agencies, large sections of the Somali population continue to suffer from the internal conflict and its consequences with little hope of improvement in their living conditions. The situation, he says, is exacerbated by the lack of security that prevents relief workers from reaching populations in need. In that context, the Secretary-General reiterates his call on donors to respond to the consolidated appeals process and contribute to ongoing and future development programmes in Somalia.

In another report on Somalia released today in New York, the Secretary-General says the combined effects of a decade of conflict, climatic change and economic disinvestments have made Somalia one of the poorest places on Earth. "On average, Somalis live off less than half a dollar a day and have an average life expectancy of 45 years of age," the report states, stressing that efforts by the international community will be needed to ensure a synchronized political and aid approach allowing for humanitarian access and neutrality.