Security Council stresses need for political dialogue and increased aid for Somalia
Speaking to the press following a closed-door briefing from Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, which holds this month’s Council presidency, said members regarded the situation in Somalia – which has been beset by fighting and widespread displacement in the past month – as one of its top priorities.
The United Nations announced yesterday it is sending a humanitarian assessment mission to Somalia’s border area with Kenya, where thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have gathered to escape fighting between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and supporters of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).
The assessment team will examine how to re-start humanitarian deliveries into Somalia and how to handle the large-scale population movements that have followed the intense fighting in recent weeks as the Government, backed by Ethiopian troops, has reclaimed the capital, Mogadishu. Aid operations had to be suspended and international staff evacuated because of the dangers posed by the fighting.
Mr. Churkin said the Council’s 15 members agreed that inclusive political dialogue among Somalia’s various political forces is necessary to end the deadly clashes and alleviate the humanitarian situation in one of Africa’s most impoverished nations.
Last month the Council unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the creation of an African protection and training mission to help protect Somalia’s transitional federal institutions.
To be known as IGASOM, the new force is to be set up by the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an east African group, and will have an initial mandate of six months. No countries bordering Somalia will be able to deploy troops.
Mr. Gambari told journalists he stressed during his Council briefing that IGASOM must be deployed as soon as possible to stabilize Somalia, and he added that several countries, including Nigeria, South Africa and Malawi, are considering committing troops.