Blue helmets should be deployed in Somalia, General Assembly told

26 September 2008

Somalia urgently needs a fully-fledged United Nations peacekeeping force to restore peace and stability in the war-torn country, the Foreign Minister of its Transitional Federal Government (TFG) told the General Assembly tonight.

Addressing the high-level segment of the General Assembly, Ali Ahmad Jama Jengeli said the deployment of a force of UN blue helmets would also help “create a secure environment for institution-building and socio-economic development.”

The UN-backed African Union Mission to Somalia, known as AMISOM, is currently trying to stabilize Somalia, which has been wracked by protracted war and humanitarian suffering since its last functioning national government was toppled in 1991.

But a peace accord between the TFG and the rebel Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), signed last month in neighbouring Djibouti, calls on the UN to replace AMISOM with its own peacekeeping force, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has begun contingency planning for such an operation.

“We are now in the process of implementation [of the Djibouti Agreement] – hopefully without undue delays,” Mr. Jengeli told the Assembly. “But we are also mindful, after 18 years of conflict, that delays occur… [because] of the tactics of those who have developed vested interests in anarchy and chaos.

“It is also important that the leadership, both on the Government side and on the opposition, show resolve and leadership in order for this process to succeed, and succeed it must.”

He also called on the international community to take “resolute action” against piracy in the waters off Somalia, which has become a massive problem in recent years. Many ships trying to deliver humanitarian relief supplies have been hijacked or robbed before they can reach their destinations.

“These criminal acts of piracy are unacceptable and should be put to an end,” he said, adding that the French Government deserves credit for its support of Somalia on this issue.

Mr. Jengeli’s address to the General Debate took place amid mounting concern from UN aid agencies after at least 15,000 residents of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, fled their homes this week because of deadly fighting in the city between the rebels, Government forces and the allied Ethiopian military force.

 

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Thousands of Somalis flee capital after fresh fighting this week – UN agency

At least 12,000 civilian residents of Mogadishu have fled their homes in the Somali capital since last weekend because of a surge in fighting between Islamist insurgents and Government forces backed by the Ethiopian military, the United Nations refugee agency reported today.