Renewing its support for the planned deployment of African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Somalia, the Security Council today called for the rapid dispatch of a United Nations technical mission to assess security needs in the war-wracked country.
In a statement to the press following a closed-door meeting on the issue, Ambassador Peter Burian of Slovakia, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, said the 15-member panel wanted the assessment mission team to report back with recommendations on how to bring durable peace to Somalia.
The Council also backed by the proposal by Somali President Abdulahi Yusuf to convene a national reconciliation congress as part of broader efforts to promote peace and reconciliation.
The statement followed a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, who stressed the importance of political dialogue and inclusiveness.
Somalia has not had a functioning national government since 1991, when the regime of the dictator Muhammad Siad Barre was toppled. Late last year the transitional Government, backed by Ethiopian troops, dislodged Islamist forces from much of the country.
In December, the Council authorized the deployment of a peace support mission to Somalia, to be run by the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an east African grouping.
Today’s statement called on AU members to contribute to that peace mission, to be known as IGASOM, and also asked the UN to continue to supply as much support as possible to the AU.
The President said there was an urgent need for IGASOM “to help create the conditions for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Somalia and the lifting of emergency security measures currently in place.”
He also voiced “deep concern” over the humanitarian situation and urged all sides to ensure aid workers have unhindered access to those in need. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced or forced into neighbouring countries by recent fighting or by serious flooding.