Fragile Somali peace process needs international support – UN officials

Internally displaced women and children in Mogadishu, Somalia.

13 May 2009 – Top United Nations officials today urged the international community to continue to nurture the fragile peace process in Somalia and help the country consolidate its hard-won gains, in spite of recent threats to the new Government.

“We meet today at a critical moment for Somalia,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe told a meeting of the Security Council. “One in which the response of the international community to an embattled Government’s pleas for help could make the difference between consolidating hopeful steps toward peace and a descent once again into anarchy and hopelessness.”

Mr. Pascoe said the situation remains “quite fragile” following the attempted coup on 9 May by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and Al Shabaab fighters, and noted that the latest surge in violence is clearly a response to the Government’s strategy to reach out and build a critical mass in support of peace.

In a news release issued today, UN envoy for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah described the attackers as extremists who know do not have the support of the Somali people, and accused them of bringing in foreign fighters who have no connections to the situation in Somalia.

Mr. Pascoe said that despite heavy fighting, recent months have witnessed newfound reasons for hope, and the Somali people have the best chance in two decades to end their suffering and move towards a better and more stable future.

“The Government’s efforts at building a consensus for reconciliation are slowly gaining ground, despite the serious challenge by well-funded radicals,” he stated. “The international community must make a vital investment at this time to nurture the fragile peace process, help the Government establish its authority throughout the country and build its security and rule of law institutions.

“Now is not the time to analyze and discuss, but to provide concrete help while it can still make a difference,” said Mr. Pascoe.

In January, the Council signalled its intention to establish a UN force, when conditions permit, in the Horn of Africa country. It also requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish a trust fund to help support the existing African Union (AU) force, known as AMISOM, and to facilitate a logistical support package, training and equipment, in anticipation of its eventual absorption into a UN force.

UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy informed the Council about the three-phase approach Mr. Ban has outlined for UN engagement in Somalia, saying that the incremental approach is the right strategy for the country at the present time. It is important to emphasize, he added, that this is a flexible strategy and not one based on a rigid timetable.

He said important benchmarks for establishing a UN force include implementation of a credible ceasefire, consent to the deployment by all the major Somali actors on the ground, and adequate pledges of troops and required military capacities by Member States.

“It remains the assessment of the Secretary-General that deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation at this stage, in the absence of these conditions, would be a high-risk option, and that an ill-timed mission would fail.”

Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, told the Council that the gains achieved in building peace by the Somali leaders and the international community must not be lost.

The current situation on the ground evidences that the Somalia’s nascent and yet fragile peace process must be protected. Among other things, she said, the disbursement of donor pledges must be expedited.


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