Somalia: top UN envoy calls for donors’ pledges to be turned into action

27 April 2009
Internally displaced women and children in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Following last week’s over $200 million pledge by international donors for Somalia, the top United Nations envoy to the Horn of Africa nation today voiced hope that resources will be mobilized quickly to promote peace and stability.

At the donors’ conference in Brussels – under the joint auspices of the UN, the African Union (AU), European Union (EU) and the League of Arab States – pledges of $213 were received for the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and for Somalia security.

That amount surpassed the $166 million requested by the AU.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, characterized last week’s international gathering as a “turning point” for Somalia, which has not had a functioning national government since 1991 but has witnessed several encouraging developments in recent months, including the election of a new President and the formation of a Government of National Unity.

“While strengthening security, providing youth employment and delivering humanitarian assistance are essential, lasting peace and stability will come through continued dialogue as laid out in the Djibouti Agreement,” he said, referring to the last year’s UN-facilitated pact between the Transitional Federal Government and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), in which the two agreed to end their conflict.

Due to that Agreement, uprooted people are returning to their homes, the Parliament is more inclusive and Ethiopian troops withdrew in an orderly manner, the envoy said.

“Now is the time for Somalis to show their people, their region and the international community that they are finally serious about peace and leaving behind the culture of ‘winner takes all’ and the ever-shifting alliances that are still devastating their nation,” he said.

The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia last week stressed the importance of international assistance to stabilize the political situation in the country, noting that accountability and transitional justice initiatives are essential in Somalia, “where human rights is a victim of endless and myriad violations on a daily basis.”

Shamsul Bari pointed out that there is a consensus among many that the “success of the security mechanisms will be judged on their capacity to protect the civilian population rather than abuse.”

Thus, he stressed, to ensure that security forces are human rights-compliant, vetting processes, command structures and international disciplinary structures and independent oversight are essential.

On the humanitarian front, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is helping authorities in the self-declared autonomous region of Somaliland to truck water to residents of areas hit by prolonged drought.

Cases of malaria have dropped in Somalia, thanks to the stepped up distribution of long lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets (LLINs), UNICEF said.

The nets have been shown to provide the best protection against malaria in south-central Somalia, with a prevalence rate of just under 7 per cent for net users, compared to 17 per cent for those who did not.


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