Deeply concerned about the absence of any credible progress towards national reconciliation in Somalia, the Security Council this afternoon called on all Somali political leaders and parties to return to an inclusive process of consultation and negotiation, to lead to establishment of a broad-based national government.
Through a statement read out by its President, Sir John Weston (United Kingdom), the Council urged the leaders of Somali factions to reject violence and to place the interests of the country and people above their personal differences and political ambitions. While expressing apprecation for the efforts of various regional organizations and neighbouring States in promoting dialogue, it reaffirmed that the people of Somalia bear ultimate responsibility for achieving national reconciliation and restoring peace.
The Council condemned the harassment, beatings, abduction and killings of personnel of international humanitarian organizations, and underlined the responsibility of all Somali parties to ensure the security of such personnel. It commended those humanitarian efforts and encouraged Member States to continue the provision of humanitarian assistance.
Considering the delivery of humanitarian assistance to be crucial to overall security and stability, the Council called on the Somali parties and factions to open the Mogadishu main seaport and other transportation facilities unconditionally. It reminded all States of their obligation to implement fully the military embargo against Somalia and called on them to refrain from actions which might exacerbate the situation.
In addition, the Council expressed support for the Secretary-General's intention to maintain the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and looked forward to its return to the country as soon as circumstances permit.
Also this afternoon, the President expressed the Council's condolences on the recent passing of the King of Lesotho, Moshoeshoe II.
The meeting, which was called to order at 1:10 p.m., adjourned at 1:17 p.m.
Text of Presidential Statement
The text of the presidential statement, which will be issued as document S/PRST/1996/4, reads as follows:
"The Security Council has considered the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Somalia dated 19 January 1996 (S/1996/42) and is deeply concerned about the absence of any credible progress towards national reconciliation. It calls upon all Somali political leaders and parties to return to an inclusive process of consultation and negotiation aimed at national reconciliation leading to the establishment of a broad-based national government.
"The Security Council welcomes with appreciation the efforts of the Organization of African Unity, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States, the European Union and neighbouring States in promoting national dialogue in the search for a solution to the Somali crisis. These efforts demonstrate the commitment of the international community not to abandon the people of Somalia. It reaffirms that the people of Somalia bear ultimate responsibility for achieving national reconciliation and restoring peace. In this respect, the Council urges the leaders of Somali factions to reject violence and place the interests of the country and people above their personal differences and political ambitions.
"The Security Council also welcomes and supports the Secretary-General's intention to maintain the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS). It stresses the importance of its maintaining close cooperation with the regional organizations, monitoring developments in Somalia and continuing contacts with Somali factions. It looks forward to the return of UNPOS to Somalia as soon as circumstances permit.
"The Security Council expresses deep concern at the continuing conflict. The resulting insecurity, banditry and general lawlessness increase the suffering of the civilian population. The Council condemns the harassment, beatings, abduction and killings of personnel of international humanitarian organizations, and underlines the responsibility of all parties in Somalia for ensuring the safety and security of humanitarian and other international personnel. This atmosphere of insecurity has regrettably forced the United Nations agencies to relocate international personnel thus hindering the smooth delivery of much needed humanitarian assistance.
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"The Security Council commends the valiant efforts of United Nations and international humanitarian agencies and their Somali personnel for the courage and determination to render assistance to the people of Somalia. The Council encourages Member States to continue to provide humanitarian assistance in order to avoid a further deterioration of the current situation.
"The Security Council considers the uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian assistance to be a crucial factor in the overall security and stability of Somalia. In this respect, the closure of Mogadishu main seaport and other transportation facilities severely aggravates the present situation and poses a potential major impediment to future emergency deliveries. The Council calls upon the Somali parties and factions to open those facilities unconditionally.
"The Security Council reminds all States of their obligations to implement fully the general and complete embargo imposed by paragraph 5 of resolution 733 (1992) on all deliveries of weapons and military equipment to Somalia. In this respect it calls on all States to refrain from any actions which might exacerbate the situation in Somalia.
"The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to continue to keep it informed about developments in Somalia. The Council remains seized of the matter."
Report of Secretary-General
In his report (document S/1996/42), in which he reviews the situation in Somalia since his report of 28 March 1995 (S/1995/231), the Secretary-General suggests that the Council "might wish to reiterate its call on all Somali parties, especially those who have of late adopted a unilateral approach, to return to an inclusive process of consultation and negotiation".
The Secretary General states his intention to maintain the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) for the time being. It will continue its programme of contacts with all concerned Somali parties, while coordinating its activities with interested Governments and regional organizations.
The Secretary-General also urges the international community to respond generously to calls for assistance by the humanitarian agencies, while stressing the responsibility of the Somali parties to ensure the security of humanitarian workers. He notes that, in November 1995, 10 United Nations agencies identified their most critical programmes and urgent funding requirements for 1996. Non-food funding requirements total some $40 million. Those resources represent, in most cases, the minimum that is necessary to maintain humanitarian operations in Somalia.
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The political situation in Somalia has been dominated by a debilitating stalemate for almost two years, the Secretary-General states. At that time, Somali faction leaders failed to honour their commitments on the convening of an all-inclusive national reconciliation conference and formation of a government by May 1994. However, while there has been no major progress towards national reconciliation, the worst scenario -- an all-out civil war -- has been averted.
The widely felt frustration contributed to a split in the United Somali Congress/Somali National Alliance (USC/SNA) in May 1995, the report states. Subsequently, General Aidid, former leader of the SNA, declared a "government" without the consent of other key political factions. That "government" has not been recognized by any Member State or regional organization.
The Secretary-General cites a significant trend in the emergence of regional administrations. Many political leaders are now focusing on the development of regional administration structures and a peaceful climate in their regions, to enable their constituencies to benefit from international assistance. The Somalis seem to be divided as to whether those authorities should constitute the basis for a federal system of government or simply represent a degree of regional autonomy.
It is heartening that Member States and regional organizations have not lost interest in Somalia, despite many disappointments, the Secretary-General states. They have consistently called for a negotiated settlement.
While many Somali leaders have asked that the United Nations provide financial and logistical support for some of their peace initiatives, UNPOS has no resources to provide such support, the report states. Their best hope of attracting international support would be to give some first signs of concrete progress towards peace and reconciliation.
The low level of food production, continued political instability and other factors combine to make international assistance to Somalia essential, the report states. The United Nations agencies believe that, even in the worst-case scenario, their continued operations could play an important role in preventing another major humanitarian crisis. However, drawing down their activities could have the opposite effect.
The most urgent humanitarian needs are food and essential health systems support, particularly immunization and measures to control the spread of epidemic diseases such as cholera, the report states. Other priorities are the stimulation of agricultural production and the empowerment of local populations. United Nations agencies plan to continue their current programmes in 1996, resources and security permitting, with the possibility of a rapid expansion in case of acute nutritional problems and/or emergency.
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