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Somalia: top UN envoy calls for road map to address worsening crisis

Somalia: top UN envoy calls for road map to address worsening crisis

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah
The top United Nations envoy to Somalia has urged the international community to draw up a road map towards lasting peace and stability in the Horn of Africa nation that has not had a functioning national government since 1991, warning that continuing with “business as usual” would have dire consequences for the country and the region.

“The situation in Somalia is dangerous and becoming more so each day,” Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah told the Security Council today. His briefing follows recent meetings with President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the recently-appointed Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Nur Hassan Hussein, and members of Somalia’s opposition.

Despite 14 peace agreements over the last 17 years, the complexity of the conflict continues to increase and innocent civilians continue to die, Mr. Ould-Abdallah said. A recent upsurge in violence has forced the internal displacement of about one million Somalis and caused some three million to flee the country as refugees.

The Special Representative noted there is little reason to believe the situation will change if the international community continues with its current course of action, stating that there are “serious consequences for Somalia, the region and probably the world if the conflict is not addressed and a definitive, lasting solution agreed on.”

He put forward three possible approaches for the Council’s consideration, the first of which is continuing with the status quo, or “business as usual.” In that context, he pointed out that efforts exerted over the past 17 years have failed to restore stability and that national reconciliation remains elusive.

“The international community’s ‘wait and see’ attitude would only postpone the day of reckoning and would not provide meaningful progress towards lasting peace,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah cautioned.

The second option would be an organized withdrawal of the international community from Somalia, “in effect accepting its inability to protect the population or to bring about a lasting peace,” he said, noting that a withdrawal would provide “an alternative to the costly, continued engagement in Somalia” that has yet to bear fruit.

“However, the country would be crippled still further by the withdrawal as more groups or clans would appear and the resulting fighting could create a humanitarian catastrophe,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah warned, adding that the withdrawal could create “an even more serious power vacuum.”

The Special Representative said a third possible solution would be immediate and effective action on the political and security fronts, with the objective of forming a government that can support itself and administer the country effectively. “This is not a magic recipe for peace but could help Somalia to move in the right direction.”

On the political front, he suggested the TFG take steps to strengthen its ranks and to reach out to the opposition. He also cited the need for meetings between the TFG and the opposition to prepare the ground for further and higher level meetings, emphasizing that “the opposition should be part of the political process and assume its responsibilities.”

Along with the political action, Mr. Ould-Abdallah called for strengthening the African Union Mission (AMISOM) deployed in the country, including the deployment of “an extra capacity” to stabilize the East African nation.

He stressed that the time has come for the international community to commit itself to a clear course of action, noting that if the current situation continues, the consequences will be “catastrophic” for peace in the region, for the credibility of the UN and, most of all, for the Somalis themselves.

Expressing his support for the third – and what he believed to be the only – option, Somalia’s representative urged the Council quickly devise a plan to move ahead in the political and security spheres, noting that many Somalis have wondered why it is so easy for the 15-member body to move speedily in other parts of the world where there is conflict.

“It will not be in the interest of the UN system to find ways and means to delay real action in Somalia,” Ahmed Dhakkar stated, also appealing for boosting the existing AU force.