Somalia: Annan says interested nations must join efforts to aid reconciliation process

Somalia: Annan says interested nations must join efforts to aid reconciliation process

With the neighbouring countries of Somalia taking a more pro-active role to further that country’s national reconciliation efforts, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has suggested that a committee of interested nations be re-established to help the process along.

In his latest report to the Security Council on the situation in Somalia, the Secretary-General says this so-called Committee of Friends would focus on ways to draw attention to the country’s needs in the area of national reconciliation and help mobilize funds for rehabilitation and development.

The group would also support the decision taken at the recent summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an organization comprising countries in the Horn of Africa region, to hold a Somalia reconciliation conference in Nairobi in late April.

“The IGAD decision on Somalia is also significant because it acknowledged that consensus among Somalia’s neighbours is essential in order to support a way forward in the search for a more broad-based transitional arrangement for the country,” Mr. Annan observes. “The decision is therefore an important development and the international community at large, and the United Nations in particular, should support and assist in its implementation.”

On the humanitarian front, the Secretary-General reports that the situation remains perilous and that years have been lost in terms of socio-economic and infrastructure development. He stresses that the international community must increase its aid programmes to Somalia “in creative and innovative ways,” wherever the security situation allows. He also notes that access to strategic sites such as airports and primary road networks and the safety of UN staff and assets are basic requirements for increased programme implementation.

“Somalia remains one of the most dangerous environments in which the United Nations operates,” Mr. Annan says, adding that under the current circumstances, a comprehensive peace-building programme cannot yet be launched in Somalia.

Until more secure conditions emerge, the UN will make greater efforts to ensure that the “peace dividend” aspect of targeted assistance is fully exploited, the Secretary-General writes. UN programmes will be expanded through humanitarian and development projects as well as specific peace-building activities focusing on community-based peace-building, reduction of small arms, police training, quick impact projects aimed at improving security and intensification of dialogue on humanitarian and development issues.