UN team to assess security in Somalia as world body ponders broader engagement

UN team to assess security in Somalia as world body ponders broader engagement

A United Nations team will visit Somalia next week to carry out a comprehensive security assessment as the UN looks to increase its engagement with the country amid emerging positive signs in the conflict-ridden country.

The assessment mission will be looking at how UN staff can continue or increase its level of commitment, given the political and military dynamics in Somalia, the UN humanitarian coordinator's office said in a statement released in Nairobi. It noted that recent encouraging political developments had resulted in increasing stability in various areas of the country.

During its visit from 15 to 24 January, the seven-member team will travel to as many parts of Somalia as are accessible and speak with as many authorities as possible to get a broad picture of current security conditions.

The mission, which was initially recommended by the UN Security Council in a presidential statement adopted last October, will review conditions relating to security and safety of all staff and operations, and consider the needs for access to strategic sites such as airports and seaports.

The team will renew security guarantees for UN staff from the Transitional National Government and other groups and examine UN operations and programmes and how they affect staff security.

Among its other tasks, the team will also review operational engagement in Somalia, including the concepts of prudent risk and incremental engagement, as well as the recommendations and operational conditions currently in force.

Since March 1995, UN agencies have operated in Somalia from their bases across the border in Nairobi, Kenya, because of widespread insecurity in the country.