Arms embargo against Somalia constantly violated, UN Security Council told

7 November 2003 –

Major violations of the arms embargo against Somalia have taken place over a six-month period, but the weapons now arrive continuously in many small quantities, while large quantities arrive less often, a monitoring panel has told the United Nations Security Council.

The report from the Council's four-member panel of experts says the monitoring "shows a disturbing picture of a continuous influx of small quantities of weapons and ammunition that feed the local arms markets and faction leaders warehouses in Somalia."

The panel called for a blacklist of violators to be compiled for future punishment.

Major violations "using large vessels and heavy cargo aircraft show a reduction over previous years," it says, "but the constant micro-flow of weapons and ammunition represents hundreds of tons of arms in violation of the embargo over a six-month period."

The shipments in small fishing vessels or aircraft holds originate in or are routed through Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The main Somali entry points are Boosaaso, Marha, El Ma'an and Kismayo, along with the airstrips around Mogadishu and shipments have been forwarded to Kenya for terrorist use, it says.

"On average, dhows carrying arms and ammunition arrive in Somalia from Yemen two or three times a week" but their cargo is not registered. About 1,250 flights land in Somalia per month and their cargo is rarely inspected. The long border between Somalia and Ethiopia is largely not monitored, the report says.

The Somali factional leaders pay for the arms and ammunition with cash sent by foreign sponsors or raised from fees levied at ports and roadblocks, with the stimulant leaf called khat, or with counterfeit shillings printed abroad.

The neighbouring States, even when willing to take action against the violations, lack the tools to do so, the panel says.

Nonetheless, "the panel supports the recommendation that a list should be compiled of individuals or groups engaged in the illegal manufacture, trade, stockpiling, transfer, possession, transportation, insurance and financing of the acquisition of illicit weapons, with a view to proposing possible future actions against such violators," it says.

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