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Security Council extends African Union mission in Somalia by six months

Security Council extends African Union mission in Somalia by six months

The Security Council today extended for another six months the African Union-led mission in Somalia, which has been helping the war-wracked country that has not had a functioning government since 1991 to achieve national reconciliation and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Established in February 2007, AMISOM is also tasked with providing protection to the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) to help them carry out their functions of government, and security for key infrastructure.

By its unanimous decision, the Council urged AU member States to contribute to the mission, known as AMISOM, “to help facilitate the full withdrawal of other foreign forces from Somalia and help create the conditions for lasting peace and stability there.”

In addition, the 15-member body expressed its intention to meet again promptly after the release of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s forthcoming report, due on 10 March, which will include specific options to strengthen the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and to further support the full deployment of AMISOM.

The report will also include options to prepare for the possible deployment of a UN peacekeeping force to succeed AMISOM. In his last report on Somalia, issued in November, Mr. Ban had cautioned that deploying a UN operation is not realistic or viable given the country’s security situation, the intensifying insurgency and the lack of progress towards any political reconciliation.

The Council also reiterated the need for agreement on a comprehensive and lasting cessation of hostilities and a road map for the remainder of the transitional process, including free and democratic elections in 2009.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are up to 2 million vulnerable people in need of humanitarian aid in the country. In addition, aid workers face difficulties and the transport and delivery of crucial items such as food is being impeded by roadblocks, taxes and banditry.

In this regard, the Council called on all parties and armed groups in Somalia to ensure the safety and security of AMISOM and humanitarian personnel, and grant “timely, safe and unhindered access” for the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need.