23 July 2007 The United Nations Security Council today unanimously adopted a resolution extending by six months the mandate of a group of experts monitoring the flow of arms to and through Somalia.
The 15-member Council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, passed a resolution in 2003 which established the Monitoring Group, comprising four members, to scrutinize the movement of weapons.
Today’s Council resolution called for the Group to “continue to investigate any means of transport, routes, seaports, airports and other facilities used in connection with arms embargo violations,” among other tasks.
In a related development, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported today that for the first time since the beginning of June, more people have left the Somali capital Mogadishu than have returned to the city, with more than 10,000 people fleeing last week.
Approximately 21,000 people have left Mogadishu since Government troops began security the capital in early last month, but around 20,000 people have returned.
The livelihoods of Mogadishu’s inhabitants have been threatened by restrictions on daily activities. A wholesale market was shut down due to heightened insecurity, the closure of roads to the market and rising inflation, increasing the difficulty for many to secure remittances, a significant supply of income.
The UN estimates that 400,000 Somalis have been displaced internally so far this year, with many having been forced to flee more than once due to the violence.
Mogadishu’s security situation has deteriorated since the launch of the National Reconciliation Conference on 15 July, with mortar attacks disrupting the meeting.
“The continuing violence is again driving civilians from their homes and making life extremely difficult for those who remain,” said John Holmes, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.
“The humanitarian community also needs a safer environment to carry out its life-saving work,” he noted, voicing hope that the Government and all sides will recognize the importance of this.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners said that 2,900 residents of Mogadishu and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been evicted from their homes in public buildings, and have ended up on the streets as they say there is no place for them to go and that IDP camps are full.
Although the UN World Food Programme (WFP) was able to deliver over 3,000 metric tons of food to Somalia after receiving permission to cross from Kenya earlier this month, the worsening transport system – including damaged bridges – within Somalia is holding up the movement of supplies.
The agency cautioned on 17 July that its aid programmes for hungry Somalis could be jeopardized without fresh contributions allowing the flow of relief to continue.
Despite the resumption of UN air services to the south and north-west of the East African country, piracy thwarts aid supply lines by sea.
The UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to bring the issue of piracy to the Security Council so that the 15-member body can request the Transitional Federal Government to allow foreign warships into the country’s territorial waters to combat the threat.
There have been 15 attacks on ships – two on WFP-contracted vessels with a security guard being killed in one of them – in or near Somali waters so far this year. In 2006, there were 10 attacks.