Somalia on path to consolidating stability – top UN envoy

20 March 2009

Somalia, long dogged by conflict, is “back from the brink” following a peace pact, the top United Nations envoy to the Horn of Africa nation told the Security Council today, calling for a three-pronged approach targeting governance, security and development to ensure stability.

Somalia, long dogged by conflict, is “back from the brink” following a peace pact, the top United Nations envoy to the Horn of Africa nation told the Security Council today, calling for a three-pronged approach targeting governance, security and development to ensure stability.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, pinned most of the blame for the collapse of Somalia, which has been beset by factional strife since the overthrow of Siad Barre in 1991, on the country's elite.

But he stressed the need for both Somalis and the international community to join forces to help Somalia reach the end of its “long march to normalcy,” stressing the importance of curbing volatility to allow wide-scale recovery and rehabilitation efforts to succeed.

The envoy called for a “strategy with achievable goals,” urging the following targets over the next 100 days: employment, infrastructure renovation and humanitarian assistance.

Extremists, many of whom are young, “are generally far more interested in their share of revenues than in ideology,” he told the Council in an open meeting.

The international community must provide aid, which should be effectively and quickly disbursed, by providing immediate support to the Government, helping the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force known as AMISOM, ensuring the unimpeded delivery of relief, addressing impunity and tackling piracy off the Somali coast, Mr. Ould-Abdallah said.

But he noted that Somalis must also draw upon their own resources – their coastline is Africa's longest, with rich fish resources and hydrocarbon deposits, as well as an entrepreneurial business community – to pull itself out of chaos.

Last year's UN-facilitated Djibouti Agreement between the Transitional Federal Government and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, in which the two agreed to end their conflict, has helped to bring Somalia “back from the brink,” the Special Representative said.

“I would argue that with the Djibouti Agreement, the country has passed the crossroads,” he said. “It is on a one-way street – going forward.”

Last month saw the formation of the Government of National Unity, as well as its return to the violence-plagued capital, Mogadishu.

“Today, state legitimacy is established and the legality of the new institutions is recognized regionally, internationally and indeed by the vast majority of Somalis,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah said.

At the end of today's Council meeting, the 15-member body welcomed the “positive political developments” made during the course of the Djibouti peace process, including the creation of an expanded Parliament, the election of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and the formation of the Unity Government.

In a press statement, the Council commended the new President for reaching out to parties outside the peace process as well as for re-establishing security and the rule of law in both Mogadishu and the rest of Somalia.

“They reiterate their call for the peaceful resolution of the Somali conflict as the only way to a durable peace and genuine reconciliation and call upon all parties that have not yet joined the political process to do so,” the statement said.

Condemning all attacks against AMISOM, the Council expressed its grave concern at ongoing insecurity in parts of Somalia, human rights violations and the precarious humanitarian situation. The UN estimates that some 3.2 million people, or 40 per cent of the population, are in need of assistance.

In a related development, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported continued uprooting of people in Somalia due to conflict and drought.

At least 2,000 Somalis were forced to flee fighting between two rival groups from the Ceel Buur area in the Galgaduud region in the centre of the country, bringing the total number of people in the region uprooted since last December to over 50,000.

Nearly 5,000 people have left drought-stricken villages in the western Gedo region in the past week, heading south in search of pasture and water regions. UNHCR also noted that there have been reports that Somalis continue to stream into neighbouring Kenya, with over 16,000 refugees having been registered since January.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), in response to concerns over water scarcity, is trucking water to over 50,000 people and will continue its deliveries for at least a month until the start of the rains or the maintenance of water yards is completed.

For its part, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed nearly 1,500 metric tons of food to 58,000 people in the south-central Bay region in the past week.

 

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