Somalia: opportunity to bring lasting peace must be seized – Ban Ki-moon
Despite the volatile security and dire humanitarian conditions many Somalis face, the window of opportunity to bring a durable peace to the war-torn Horn of African nation must be seized, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report made public today.
Assessments and missions carried out by the United Nations have shown that “despite the difficult security situation characterized by indiscriminate killing, kidnapping and hijacking, there is an opportunity to end the prolonged conflict in Somalia and the suffering of its people,” Mr. Ban wrote in his latest report.
He appealed to all sides to halt hostilities and to take part in achieving a sustainable peace.
“I particularly call on all parties to protect the civilian population and abstain from harming or kidnapping humanitarian workers and other expatriates working in Somalia.”
According to a fact-finding mission led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the north of the country is more stable than the centre and the south, and regional and international factors – such as arms proliferation, the potential use of Somalia as a venue for a proxy war among its neighbours and piracy, which affects humanitarian aid – exacerbate an already complicated security issue.
The report noted that some have voiced their concern that the longer it takes for law and order to be restored in Somalia, which has not had a functioning national government in almost two decades, the greater the likelihood that global terrorists will use it as a safe haven.
DPKO has identified four scenarios that could lead up to the possible deployment of a UN peacekeeping force: the relocation of UN staff from Nairobi to Somalia; relocating the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) to Mogadishu; the deployment of an impartial stabilization force to allow the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces following a broad-based political agreement; and the installation of blue helmets after far-reaching political and security agreements are reached.
Also included in the report is an assessment made by the Integrated Task Force on Somalia (headed by the Department of Political Affairs) which urges a three-track approach to attaining peace and stability.
The first is political, encompassing a dialogue between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the opposition. The next track is related to security, underscoring the necessity of a “credible security presence even before a formal ceasefire agreement is reached” to further success in the political arena. The third track is to allow the UN to increase its programmes to seeking to bolster the economy and provide basic services, among others.
The Secretary-General said that he “generally” endorses this three-track approach, stressing that “robust support of the ongoing political process could lead to improved security conditions.”
To support planning and other efforts for the African Union-led mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, the UN maintains a team of military and civilian experts at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Last week, the top UN envoy for Somalia welcomed the positive reaction to the TFG’s announcement that it will hold discussions with the opposition.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, said that he was “very pleased” by the reaction from several Somali groups, especially the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia.
“I would like thank all the parties for finally thinking of the fate of the Somali people and for realizing that reconciliation can lead to a win-win situation for all sides.”