15 March 1996


15 March 1996

Press Release


19960315 Twenty-Nine Speakers Address Situation in Somalia, One Year after Withdrawal of United Nations Mission

The Security Council today held a general exchange of views on the situation in Somalia, one year after the withdrawal of the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM II), with several delegations stressing that the international community had not abandoned that country.

The representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed support for continued humanitarian assistance and the maintenance of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS). His greatest concern was the humanitarian situation, which had ceased to be "newsworthy," he said, and it was the Council's responsibility to keep the international community focused on Somalia.

The representative of the United States said her Government was proud of its efforts in Somalia, which had helped end a famine of epic proportions. Somalia remained a dangerous place, she added, but, while political developments remained at a stalemate, aspects of the private sector economy, such as agricultural exports, had reemerged. Further, United Nations agencies had been addressing the humanitarian, social and economic concerns, despite the insecurity that hampered delivery of humanitarian aid.

Some other speakers, however, noted examples of continued hardship, such as a rise in malnutrition and fears of a cholera outbreak in the country. The representative of Kenya urged the Council to continue to treat the situation in Somalia as a threat to international peace and security. He pointed out that arms were being imported into the country in violation of the Council's embargo and Mogadishu's airport and seaport remained closed.

The observer of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) noted that in recent months 600,000 Somalis had fled to other countries, with another 500,000 internally displaced.

Rwanda's representative said he hoped the Council debate would not give participating States a sense of self-satisfaction. Rather, he hoped the Council and the United Nations Secretariat would consider the Somalis and

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other Africans as victims of a situation over which they had no control. He denounced the "minimalist" attitude of the Organization and said the withdrawal of UNOSOM II had helped to increase chaos in that country, just as genocide in Rwanda had been made possible by the withdrawal of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR).

Statements were also made by the representatives of Chile, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Germany, Egypt, France, Honduras, United Kingdom, Poland, China, Guinea-Bissau, Botswana, Tunisia, Guinea, Kenya, Swaziland, Algeria, Ethiopia, India, Morocco, Pakistan, India, Zimbabwe and Uganda.

Situation in Somalia

The Security Council meets this morning to undertake a general exchange of views on the situation in Somalia. In its statement of 24 January (document S/PRST/1996/4), the Council called on all Somali political leaders and parties to return to an inclusive process of consultation and negotiation, leading to the establishment of a broad-based national government.

The Council urged leaders of Somali factions to reject violence and to place the interests of the country and people above their personal differences and political ambitions. The Council condemned the harassment, beatings, abduction and killings of personnel of international humanitarian organizations.

In that statement, the Council also 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.

In its Presidential statement of 6 April 1995 (document S/PRST/1995/15), the Council emphasized that, even after the termination of the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM II), the country should not be abandoned by the Organization. The Council stressed that the United Nations should continue to assist the Somali people to achieve a political settlement and to provide humanitarian support, provided that Somalis demonstrated a disposition to peacefully resolve their differences.

The withdrawal of 15,000 United Nations peace-keepers, civilian personnel, facilities and property from Somalia began in November 1994 and was completed ahead of schedule, and without incident on 2 March 1995. At the outset of the United Nations effort in Somalia, in late 1992, some 3,000 people were dying daily of starvation. The international relief effort successfully ended that situation, but a lack of political will on the part of Somali leaders impeded all subsequent efforts to achieve political reconciliation.


LORENZO FERRARIN (Italy) spoke on behalf of the European Union. He said that Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia associated themselves with his statement. He said the European Union was deeply concerned by the spiral of seemingly endless violence gripping Somalia. While it supported the Council's appeal to the Somali leaders to resume peaceful negotiations, it reiterated the line of strict neutrality toward the various Somali factions. The Union believed that Somalia would not

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be able to take its proper place in the international community until a government emerged that was truly representative of all the Somali components.

He supported the continuation of the Secretary-General's small political office for Somalia in Nairobi, he said. It was right that the United Nations should stand ready to help, through its good offices, the process of national reconciliation should an opening appear. His greatest concern was the humanitarian situation of the people, which far from the television cameras had ceased to be "newsworthy." It was the Council's responsibility to keep the international community's focus on the country, to prevent Somalia from disappearing not only from the international scene, but also from its agenda.

The efforts of the United Nations and of the international agencies to assist the civilian population must be pursued, within the limits allowed by the unstable situation, he said. To continue to operate, however, it should be possible to count on the renewed financial support of the donors. He appealed to the Somali parties and factions, to open unconditionally Mogadishu's main seaport and other transportation facilities in order to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

The European Union, one of the main providers of humanitarian assistance to Somali, intended to pursue that path, he continued. The European Union also encouraged and supported international and regional organizations, such as the Organization of African Unity (OAU), to continue their efforts to foster the return of peace and stability in Somalia.

JUAN SOMAVIA (Chile) said that the situation in Somalia was frustrating, but the worst case scenario of civil war had been avoided. Humanitarian problems varied greatly according to region. In some areas malnutrition was an emerging problem. The reappearance of cholera was also a major concern. The humanitarian problem turned not so much on an absence of food and medicine, but on an inability to deliver those commodities. The port of Mogadishu remained closed. Overland transport was often impossible and transportation by air was prohibitively expensive. There was an urgent need to reopen the port.

In its statement of 24 January, the Security Council had made clear that the uninterrupted distribution of humanitarian assistance was essential for Somalia, he continued. The humanitarian task was not simply a matter of saving people. It was a political task, in that political difficulties were impeding humanitarian action. The Council had also expressed concern that no tangible achievements had been made regarding national reconciliation. In its statement of 6 April 1995, upon the completion of the UNOSOM II mission, the Council had also emphasized the need for political reconciliation.

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The clan and sub-clan system of Somalia could provide a political structure for the country, he said. Somalia could achieve stability, but the political leaders seemed unwilling to adopt modern political structures. They only seemed to want power for themselves. The international community was searching for a peaceful resolution of political disputes, which could allow the rebirth of Somalia.

NUGROHO WISNUMURTI (Indonesia) said the people of Somalia bore the ultimate responsibility for achieving national reconciliation and restoring peace. He noted that several recent proposals had been put forth by the Somali Salvation Alliance and the Somali National Alliance to begin the process of reconciliation and dialogue. He stressed, however, that their contribution to a comprehensive peace would be inadequate so long as they chose to pursue independent paths towards peace.

The response from the international community would profoundly impact the peace process, he said. The international community should resist the temptation to abandon the crisis. He encouraged the OAU, the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to continue their efforts in cooperation with the United Nations in the search towards lasting peace in Somalia. It was necessary for all Member States, in particular the neighbouring countries, to continue to support all Somali efforts towards genuine national reconciliation and to refrain from any action capable of exacerbating the conflict.

It was a matter of urgent importance that all parties extended their fullest cooperation to humanitarian organizations and personnel, he continued. He called on the Somali people to prevent the deplorable harassment, beatings, abduction and killings of humanitarian personnel. He also called on United Nations agencies to redouble their efforts in achieving administrative efficiency, and to devise processes for circumventing bureaucratic logjams, so that humanitarian assistance could be more expeditiously provided. The humanitarian situation would continue to deteriorate as long as Mogadishu's main seaport remained closed and security was not adequately provided to protect the transport of humanitarian supplies.

There was, he said, an urgent need for the international community to pursue new initiatives to break the impasse. One option would be to upgrade the United Nations Political Office and relocate it in Somalia, as soon as circumstances permitted. That office should be headed by a resident high ranking officer, who would not only provide the Council with timely and accurate assessments of unfolding developments but also facilitate and assist the Somali parties towards national reconciliation and peaceful settlement of the conflict. Furthermore, the Council might consider sending a mission to Somalia so that it might be in a better position to respond more effectively.

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SERGEI LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that his Government had always called for the peaceful resolution of disputes in Somalia, consistent with maintaining the territorial integrity of the country. Political difficulties were now complicating the humanitarian situation. The Russian Federation appealed to Somali factions to open the port of Mogadishu and allow the unhindered movement of humanitarian assistance.

Attempts by the Somali factions to resolve their differences were "senseless", he said. Somalia needed a broad-based government that would be representative of a variety of factions and supported by regional organizations. All States should honour the continuing embargo of arms for Somalia. The United Nations still had a role to play by supporting political initiatives and coordinating humanitarian assistance. The Somali political parties owed it to their people to find the political will to peacefully resolve their disputes.

PARK SOO-GIL (Republic of Korea) said his delegation did not share the view that the United Nations peace-keeping operation in Somalia was a dismal failure. While the United Nations operation had not succeeded in resolving the internal conflict and rebuilding Somalia, its contribution in averting massive starvation should not be underestimated. The experience of the United Nations involvement in Somalia had nevertheless revealed the inherent limits of the international community's capability to contain the humanitarian consequences of a failed State, which had neither the capability of self- government nor the willingness to act upon international assistance. He was saddened to note that the end of the Somali tragedy was nowhere in sight.

He said a prerequisite for the international community in playing any meaningful role for the Somali people was the security and safety of international personnel operating on the ground. He was deeply concerned over the mistreatment of humanitarian personnel, including harassment, beating, abduction and killings. He strongly condemned those acts of violence and urged the Somali factions to cooperate fully with the international humanitarian organizations.

The United Nations must continue to be actively engaged in Somalia, he said. It must monitor more closely the situation on the ground and political developments in the country. He encouraged the Secretary-General to transfer the United Nations Political Office in Somalia to Mogadishu, as soon as the circumstances allowed. That would not only facilitate the basic tasks of information gathering and contacts with the Somali factions, but it was also a sensible way of demonstrating United Nations commitment to the solution of the Somali problem. Also, the United Nations must play a central role in facilitating and coordinating international humanitarian assistance to Somalia. Ensuring unimpeded access to areas in urgent and acute need of relief efforts by international personnel was a matter of highest priority.

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That included the reopening of Mogadishu seaport and airport, at least for the humanitarian cargo.

He said the Security Council should warn General Aidid in unambiguous terms that the visa requirements that he decided to impose for entry into the country were unacceptable. The Council should also remind all leaders of Somali factions that they would be made individually accountable for the safety and security of all international humanitarian personnel operating in their respective areas of control. Additionally, the United Nations should play a more active role in coordinating international efforts and initiatives to promote a political settlement of the conflict through national reconciliation among warring factions in Somalia. It was encouraging to note the constructive initiatives take by the OAU, the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Countries and the European Union to that end. He encouraged the Secretary-General to build upon those initiatives and consider convening an international peace conference on Somalia under the auspices of the United Nations in close coordination with the regional organizations concerned.

The international community also had the responsibility to ensure the implementation of the arms embargo established by resolution 733 (1992), he said. He underlined the need for the Council to remind all States, especially those neighbouring Somalia, of their legal obligations to observe a general and complete embargo on all deliveries of weapons and military equipment to Somalia in compliance of the resolution. He urged all Somali factions to rise above their parochial factional interests and move towards national reconciliation.

MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT (United States) said that at one time the Security Council almost daily devoted its attention to Somalia. Her Government was proud of its efforts in Somalia under the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) and UNOSOM. United States and allied forces had entered Somalia in December 1992 to end a famine of epic proportions. The UNITAF ended the famine, saving thousands of lives. The UNOSOM continued the undertaking. Almost all Somalis, even those sharply critical of the United Nations subsequent action in their country, had expressed gratitude for the response to the famine.

The United States had hoped that the withdrawal of UNOSOM II would demonstrate to Somali leaders the need to resolve their differences, she said. Although Somalia had experienced a sharp reduction in interfactional fighting over the past year, hopes for political reconciliation had been dimmed by the seizure of the provincial capital of Baidoa in central Somalia last September. Somalia remained a dangerous place, but predictions that widespread interclan fighting would resume as soon as the peace-keepers pulled out had not come true. Many areas of the country were peaceful and had formed functional, albeit rudimentary, local administrations.

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The other promising development in Somalia had been the re-emergence of the private sector economy, she said. Some key pre-war exports had rebounded, and sectors employing new technology had emerged. Livestock exports, which historically had accounted for some two thirds of hard currency earnings, were at record high levels in both 1994 and 1995. Banana exports had resumed, with the United States firm Dole challenging for a significant share of the market in that sector. Domestic and foreign firm were fishing along the Somali coast and four telecommunications firms, two with United States partners, were operating cellular telephone systems.

Economic activity was moving forward in Somalia, a tribute to the Somali entrepreneurial class and a few intrepid foreign investors, she continued. But that private economic activity did little to support social services. The United Nations agencies had been addressing the humanitarian, social and economic concerns of the people of Somalia, who suffered at the hands of the uncaring factional leaders, despite the insecurity that hampered efficient delivery of humanitarian aid in many parts of Somalia.

The United States had not abandoned Somalia and did not intend to do so, she said. While the United States did not recognize or support any Somali faction, it was in communication with all political groups in the country. The United States assistance programme for fiscal year 1995 had totalled $25 million. The United States and the international aid community were closely monitoring the food situation in order to prevent another famine. The Somali power brokers must make difficult decisions to create a viable reconciliation process. They should end the divisions that had pitted region against region and clan against clan. Somalia's leaders can and must uphold the common good of the Somali people.

TONO EITEL (Germany) said that when public order in Somalia collapsed in 1991 and when the more than 1 million Somalis fled to neighbouring countries, the international community had shouldered its responsibilities. The American-led operation "Restore Hope" prevented further deterioration. Following that, UNOSOM II had been the first United Nations operation to which Germany contributed regular troops on a large scale.

The UNOSOM II had not been a failure, he continued. In many regions stabilization was achieved and tens of thousands of people had been saved from starvation. But UNOSOM II had not become the success his Government had wanted it to be. Peace and stability in any country depended on forces within that country. Without the cooperation of all factions in Somalia, UNOSOM II could not bring about a peaceful solution to the internal conflict.

The United Nations had not abandoned Somalia, he continued. Political efforts and humanitarian assistance were continuing. Unfortunately there had been little movement towards a political dialogue. He regretted recent

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military activities that had further increased the suffering of the people. Those responsible should realize that no breakthrough would be achieved that way. No single group or party was strong enough to effectively control the country. A solution could only be brought about through political dialogue. The Political Office of the United Nations had established relations with factions represented in Nairobi. Those contacts should be further developed.

He said the United Nations Office had earned a reputation for impartiality and had been accepted by the warring factions, with the exception of General Aidid, as a partner for dialogue. It might make sense to increase the number of personnel in the Office. The efforts of the Office to initiate dialogue had proven particularly difficult with General Aidid. His insistence to be recognized as president of Somalia had prevented negotiations about the political future of the country. Destabilization of agriculturally fertile provinces constituted a threat to the economic situation of the whole country. A key problem for political dialogue had been a general refusal to consider power-sharing. No party alone was capable of controlling the country. The warring factions should accept the good offices of the United Nations and agree among themselves on a peaceful solution.

NABIL A. ELARABY (Egypt) said that last year the Council had addressed the issue of Somalia. The end result was that the international community had not been able to agree on undertaking an additional role in Somalia. Could the international community continue to ignore that situation, to leave Somalia in a situation of benign neglect? he asked. If that attitude continued, it would be transformed into "malignant neglect".

He said the United Nations had achieved success on the humanitarian level. Its success on social and political levels was limited. it achieved no success in laying down a framework to which all parties would remain committed. Efforts to find common ground among the interests of the clans had failed and the situation today was not unlike that which had prevailed four years ago.

The international community must respond to the desperate conditions in Somalia, he said. He cited the efforts of neighbouring States, regional and international organizations to address the complexities of humanitarian assistance. The United Nations should maintain a system of follow-up on the arms embargo against Somalia, as well as keep abreast of the political situation and the humanitarian conditions. At present, there was no follow- up.

To reactivate the role of the United Nations, he recommended that a pan- Somali congress be convened in a neighbouring State. He encouraged regional and national organizations to work towards convincing the Somali leaders of the importance of dialogue. He also recommended exploring the feasible

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aspects of establishing a joint presidential council or other means of power- sharing. He suggested also that the UNPOS be moved to Somalia when circumstances permitted. A Security Council mission or a high-level envoy should be dispatched to evaluate the situation on the ground and to make proposals for action to the Council.

He said that for historical reasons, his Government had a special interest in the achievement of stability in Somalia. He recalled that Egypt had participated in UNOSOM and had doubled its contribution when some other States had withdrawn their contingents. It was ready to continue its commitment.

Continuing, he called on the international community to enter into a commitment to refrain from recognizing any party that did not enjoy national recognition and was not responsible to the people as a whole. The United Nations should continue to impose, strengthen and monitor the arms embargo. The international community should apply pressure on the Somali parties to put the peace process on track again and ensure continued provision of developmental and humanitarian assistance to Somalia. The basic responsibility for Somalia fell on the people themselves, but there was a need for the United Nations to help the Somali people in their ordeal.

ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that the Security Council had responded to the needs of Somalia with a multinational force of 37,000 men at a cost of $2 billion. But one year after the departure of the "Blue Helmets" there was a renewal of fighting among the factions and a deterioration of the humanitarian situation. The Nairobi-based United Nations Political Office still had not been able to return to the country. The situation was deteriorating daily and threatening the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The Somali factions, particularly General Aidid, had demonstrated that they preferred the status quo to a negotiated settlement. Unfortunately, civilians were paying the price. Malnutrition was resurfacing and the delivery of humanitarian assistance had been complicated by the closing of the port of Mogadishu.

The Somali factions were responsible for the safety of humanitarian personnel, he continued. France paid tribute to all those still working in Somalia and hoped that aid would continue to be provided to the Somali people. If the international community waited too long, the country might collapse. It might be impossible to continue the Security Council's dedication to the integrity of the country. The Security Council could encourage mediation by recognized African public figures who could listen to the factions and convene a national conference. The efforts of regional actors had thus far yielded scant results. Some Somali factions had presumed that the Security Council only spoke for certain international parties. A debate within the General Assembly may make clear to the Somali parties the concern of the entire intentional community.

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GERARDO MARTINEZ BLANCO (Honduras) said that political instability and humanitarian crisis were threatening political reconciliation. The Somali factions had not lived up to their commitments to convene an international conference and to form a broad-based government. The continuing refusal to peacefully resolve disputes threatened to seriously impact the economic, social and humanitarian situation of the country. It was disheartening to see that since the withdrawal of UNOSOM II, the situation had continued to deteriorate. Even the personal safety of United Nations officials and humanitarian aid workers had been threatened.

Honduras was concerned about the security situation and the obstacles faced by agencies of the United Nations, he continued. The international community should continue assisting the Somali people by facilitating a political solution to the crisis and by tending to their humanitarian needs. The efforts of the OAU, Organization of the Islamic Conference, Arab League and European Union to stimulate national dialogue, and the willingness of non- governmental organizations to continue providing assistance were appreciated.

The United Nations Political Office for Somalia should continue monitoring developments and working with regional actors, he said. The international community was dedicated to restoring peace in Somalia. Their efforts should be reciprocated by the Somali political leadership. The ultimate responsibility for reconciliation and peace fell to the Somalis themselves. The international community should maintain its arms embargo on Somalia. The Security Council might consider dispatching a mission to the country to meet with faction leaders and communicate its concerns.

STEPEHEN GOMERSALL (United Kingdom) that while the international community stood ready to help, the Somali leaders should be aware that it was frustrated by their inability to establish peace. It was clearly important that the United Nations and regional organizations should do all that they could to rekindle efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement and national reconciliation in Somalia. In the final analysis a peaceful settlement in Somalia and the establishment of viable national institutions could be achieved only by agreement among the Somalis themselves.

He hoped that the Council's message conveyed in the presidential statement of 24 January would be carried through the international media to the Somali people and produce a rethinking by the leaders concerned of their responsibilities.

ZBIGNIEW M. WLOSOWICZ (Poland) said that only national reconciliation could bring peace and stability to Somalia. It was the responsibility of the leaders of the country to seek such dialogue and political solutions instead of hostility and violence. There was, however, nothing promising in the behaviour of political leaders of Somalia, who left no room for optimism. He

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urged the warring parties to refrain from confrontation and to think seriously about the future of their country and people. Since there were serious reasons to believe that it would be yet another unheeded appeal, perhaps the Council should consider strengthening a mechanism which would allow the United Nations to at least communicate with those involved in political rivalries in Somalia.

He said the Council should have an exhaustive picture of the state of affairs in Somalia. Its debates might become meaningless. Despite all difficulties, the Council must have the means of conveying its massages to Somalia. The important tasks taken up by the UNPOS should become a priority. The Office would have to be given unequivocal support of Member States in all respects. In the meantime, special attention should be given by the international community to the rigorous observance of Security Council resolution 733 (1992), which imposed the embargo on the arms delivery to Somalia.

WANG XUEXIAN (China) said that at the end of 1994 he had visited Somalia as a member of a Security Council delegation. He had been so shocked that he could hardly eat or sleep. Mogadishu had been reduced to ruin. No building had emerged unscathed by the war. The airport and the harbour had been closed and all the infrastructure had been destroyed. He had appealed to the Somali leadership to bring peace to Somalia. To his regret, the situation today was no different. There was no prospect for the peaceful resolution of the situation.

He believed that national reconciliation was the key to the Somalia problem. The factions should set aside their differences and engage in dialogue for national reconciliation. Somalia's difficulties could only be resolved by the Somali people, but the international community and the Security Council bore some responsibility. The United Nations could not abandon Somalia and he very much supported the work of the UNPOS. The Organization needed to make a greater effort. He hoped that African and Arab States would also play a greater role. China hoped to do its share as well.

ADELINO MANO QUETA (Guinea-Bissau) said the international community, in particular the United Nations, OAU, League of Arab States, Organization of the Islamic Conference and international humanitarian organizations were trying to restore humanitarian assistance to the people of Somalia. As long as warring parties continued in their radical positions, a negotiated solution would not be possible in that country.

He said the United Nations must continue to work towards helping the parties come together to find a solution and to create a government of national unity. The political factions should overcome their differences and

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restore confidence and security. They were responsible for national reconciliation and the reconstruction of their country.

He expressed concern over lack of tangible progress and the continued acts that hindered humanitarian assistance. He deplored the deaths of international staff members who were carrying out their duties. All parties to the conflict must ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel. He regretted the continued sale of arms to Somalia and called on all States to observe the arms embargo. The international community must continue to provide assistance to Somalia to put an end to the spectre of more war in that country.

LEGWAILA J. LEGWAILA (Botswana) said that UNOSOM II had rescued the Somali people from starvation. Only the resolution of the political conflict had been unsuccessful. Today, however, malnutrition and disease were re- surfacing. It was disheartening to know that the problem was not a lack of food, but a lack of access to humanitarian assistance. After half a decade, the Somali faction leaders had not realized the futility of attempting to resolve their disputes with armed force. It was time that those leaders placed the interests of the people of Somalia above their political ambitions, as did all good leaders.

Somalia was a failed State, he said. Governmental structures collapsed in 1991. Ever since the country had neither a recognized government nor a legitimate central authority. Anarchy and lawlessness reigned supreme. The international community could neither wish away the people of Somalia nor abandon them to suffer and die. United Nations agencies had made the presence of the Organization known, but humanitarian assistance was no substitute for a permanent political solution.

The restoration of peace and a united Somalia was primarily the responsibility of the Somali Government and people, he said. The international community could only help them to help themselves. Individual faction leaders wanted peace, but they wanted it on their own terms. "Surely there must be a solution somewhere", he said. The international community could not afford to run out of ideas in a situation that threatened yet another humanitarian crisis of unimaginable proportions.

SLAHEDDINE ABDELLAH (Tunisia) said there was no alternative but to intensify efforts to lead the Somali factions into national reconciliation. In February the Council of Ministers of the OAU had urged the Somali leaders to pursue dialogue to achieve national reconciliation. They had also decided that the tripartite mission composed of Ethiopia, Tunisia and the Secretariat of the OAU would undertake a mission to Somalis be made direct contact with the Somali leaders and assess the situation the ground. He urged the Council

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to enhance its interest and send a mission to explore the task of achieving national reconciliation.

He called for the adoption of a common strategy among the OAU, the League of Arab States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to facilitate national reconciliation in Somalia. He recommended the dispatch of a joint mission of high-level regional and international organizations to convey to the leaders and factions of Somalia, the will of the international community to help the people of Somalia to overcome their grave crisis. He also suggested that independent political leaders of international renown be asked to attempt to help narrow the difference of positions and attitude of the diverse factions in Somalia. Further, UNPOS should be reinforced by appointing an Assistant Secretary-General as its head and by giving it sufficient resources. Later, the Office should be transferred to Mogadishu.

The return of large numbers of refugees had magnified the problems faced by humanitarian organizations, he said. It was necessary to strengthen humanitarian activities through increased support from the international community. The embargo on delivery of weapons to the factions must be applied scrupulously. It was urgent for the Somali factions to return to the negotiating table. Only the could restor peace to their country.

MAHAWA BANGOURA CAMARA (Guinea) said that her Government was disturbed to see the Somali people suffering the debilitating effects of a fratricidal war. The crisis in Somalia was more than a civil war. It was a threat to the peace and security of its sub-region. The considerable efforts of the international community in Somalia had been appreciated. Guinea, as President of the group of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, had hosted the twenty-third Ministerial Conference of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. That meeting had reaffirmed the Islamic Conference's commitment to the preservation of the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia.

That Conference had asked the Secretary-General of the Islamic Conference to dispatch a contact group to urge the Somali factions to undertake a national dialogue. It had also called for the convening of an international conference on peace and national reconciliation in Somalia, with the participation of all Somali parties, along with regional and international organizations. Guinea called on all neighbouring States to honour the arms embargo in place on Somalia.

PHILIP R.O. OWADE (Kenya) said Kenya shared a border of 800 kilometres with Somalia. The ethnic populations along the border region of the two sisterly countries were the same. It therefore took great interest in the situation in Somalia. "Kenya can never enjoy her sleep when there is turmoil across the border", he said.

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When the Council had debated the resolution on the withdrawal of UNOSOM II, Kenya had pointed out the stark realities and the dangers that were posed by the premature withdrawal of UNOSOM. It had appealed for pragmatism and perseverance by the United Nations in the search for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Somalia and reminded the Council that two of the principle missions of the United Nations, namely, the maintenance of international peace and security and the humanitarian relief, had not been accomplished. His Government had urged, indeed pleaded, with the Council to wait a little longer to allow for the establishment of a central authority in Somalia, by facilitating the national efforts at reconciliation.

He regretted that his Government's plea for a continued United Nations presence in Somalia had been in vain. The Council had withdrawn UNOSOM from Somalia almost with haste, abandoning the unfortunate and helpless people of that country to fend for themselves. He wondered why the Council had never tired of the search for solutions to other international conflicts in other parts of the world, which had been even more protracted than the Somali conflict. The innocent and ordinary Somali people could not understand why the international community had deserted them. He hoped that "the mistakes of Somalia which have haunted and will continue to haunt the Organization for a long time, will never be repeated."

He appealed to the international community and, in particular, the humanitarian agencies, not to tire, but to continue to assist the Somali people. The Security Council must continue to treat the situation in Somalia as a threat to international peace and security. It could not run away from the responsibility bestowed upon it by the Charter. Arms continued to be imported into the country. Tension between the faction leaders was still high. Basic infrastructure was still non-existent. Mogadishu International Airport and the seaport remained closed. The United Nations could do much more to make a difference in Somalia. It was the only hope. He was confident that the Council would address the Somali issue more seriously than it had done in the past. His country would continue to extend its cooperation and support.

The meeting was suspended at 1:18 p.m.

When the meeting reconvened at 3:52 p.m., MOSES MATHENDELE DLAMINI (Swaziland) said that when the United Nations scaled back its operations in Somalia, the perception was that the Somali people knew best about what was good for them. It continued to be stated in the Security Council that the people of Somalia, especially the leaders, bore the ultimate responsibility for achieving national reconciliation and restoring peace. He supported that assertion, but the plight of the Somali people remained in limbo.

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"Somalia, like a sick doctor, cannot cure itself from the ills that afflict it without the support of the international community", he said. The United Nations remained an irreplaceable instrument in forging a lasting solution. Those responsible for the senseless assassination of peace activist Elman Mohammed, as well as the leaders of the warring clans who were reluctant to commit themselves to a meaningful dialogue, should be held accountable. The Council should not be discouraged by the attempts of a few armed men to frustrate the will of the majority.

He appealed to those concerned to desist from supplying war materials to any of the factions in Somalia. It was important that the international community not abandon the people of Somalia. He hoped the international community would render badly needed humanitarian assistance and the Council would redouble its efforts to find a lasting solution.

RAMTANE LAMAMRA (Algeria) said that all concerned should understand that international and regional organizations were committed to helping Somalia achieve national reconciliation and representative government. In the one year since the withdrawal of UNOSOM II, the presence of the Organization had gradually declined. While he understood the logistical difficulties of the United Nations in Somalia, he believed that they should not be allowed to serve as a pretext for abandoning the country.

He said the Somali people were responsible for their own fate, but the lack of cooperation on the part of some individual Somalis should not dissuade the international community. The factions should honour their obligations under the Nairobi Declaration of 24 March 1994 to bring about a broadly based national government consistent with the territorial integrity of Somalia. Humanitarian assistance by the international community could not substitute for political action by the Somali leadership. It was high time that the Security Council rise above the political repercussions of its failure in Somalia and make progress toward genuine peace.

The OAU had suggested ideas that were worthy of United Nations support, he said. The proposal to create a contact group for Somalia deserves support and encouragement. A combined effort by all parties, along with enhanced international and regional action, could exert influence over the Somali factions and make them live up to their responsibilities.

MULUGETA ETEFFA (Ethiopia) said that one year after the withdrawal of UNOSOM II, the situation in Somalia gave cause for concern. The country had no central government and factional hostility continued. That unfortunate state of affairs had hindered progress towards achieving lasting peace and national reconciliation and the formation of a broad-based government at the national and regional levels. Peace and stability in Somalia depended on the willingness of the warring factions. He hoped that the factions would resolve

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their differences peacefully, so as to ensure the re-emergence of civil society in the country.

Many Somali leaders had requested the United Nations to support their peace initiatives, he said. While his Government understood the frustration and disappointment of the international community regarding the lack of progress towards Somali national reconciliation, every opportunity should be seized to encourage and promote dialogue and to maintain contact with all Somali factions. The bulk of the Somali people shared the frustration of the international community. There were only a few who benefitted from Somalia's misery and reaped fruits from violence and instability.

PRAKESH SHAH (India) said the peace-keeping operation in Somali had had a lasting impact on the international community. It has clearly exposed the limits of multilateral activism, and forced the recognition that dealing with human relations was a complex task that required patience and perseverance and was not susceptible to mechanical solutions. He hoped that further progress in establishing regional authorities would have a beneficial effect on efforts to establish a central authority in the near future and that a durable peace would return to Somalia. He supported the continued extension of humanitarian and relief assistance to the people of Somalia.

He said the United Nations operation in Somalia had provided lasting lessons for future peace-keeping operations, which the international community would do well to recognize. Indian peace-keeping troops had distinguished themselves in Somalia. They had interacted with local people, participated in community affairs and were able to contribute to restoring peace, tranquillity and normalcy in the areas in which they were deployed. "The lives lost in Somalia were not in vain", he said. It must be signalled to the Somali people that the international community had not forgotten them simply because some of the objectives of the United Nations operation were not fulfilled.

He was pleased to note that the Secretary-General believed that even in the worst case scenario, the United Nations agencies could play an important role in preventing a major humanitarian crisis from taking place in Somalia. The international community must commit itself to providing the minimum necessary level of supplies. The Somali faction leaders must ensure the safety and security of all the personnel of the humanitarian and United Nations agencies. He concurred with the request to the Somali leaders to reopen the Mogadishu seaport and other transportation facilities to enable emergency humanitarian supplies to reach those most in need. Today's meeting should send a message to the people and political leaders of Somalia that the international community had not abandoned them. They, however, must create the appropriate conditions to enable the international community to effectively assist them in that process.

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AHMED SNOUSSI (Morocco) said that despite the continued conflict and fighting in Somalia, there were relative areas of peace in some regions of the country, thanks to the efforts of the United Nations. Other regions were less secure and the humanitarian situation was alarming. The situation did not seem to be improving since the end of UNOSOM II and the chance for any further improvement seemed less likely with each passing day. Each time an initiative was undertaken by one faction, another faction undermined it. While the Somalis were mainly responsible for their situation, the international community must not abandon them. It must think of ways to solve a conflict that had gone on too long and which, if left untended, might imperil the region.

He said the Secretary-General's initiative for Africa should prompt the United Nations to take action. He hoped the Council could take a similar initiative with a sense to solving the many conflicts in Africa. The United Nations should continue its tireless efforts in humanitarian assistance and help promote dialogue and negotiation. He encouraged the international and regional organizations to continue their work. That went hand in hand with the peace efforts and national reconciliation.

AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan) said the shooting of a representative of an Italian non-governmental organization indicated once again that foreign nationals working in Somalia were not safe. That had not only hampered the scope of international humanitarian assistance, but also created numerous logistical difficulties for the personnel of the non-governmental organizations.

He said it had been almost a year when the last peacemaker left Somalia. The Council needed to review the situation in Somalia, to furnish answers to the questions of whether the goals set forth before withdrawal of United Nations peace-keeping forces been achieved and had the people been allowed to determine their own destiny without fear; furthermore, were they leading their lives according to their own free will? he asked. Had infrastructure been rebuilt and had the economic activity that prevailed before 1992 returned? Had a "government of national reconciliation" been formed? If the answer to those questions was in the negative, then the Council should not abandon Somalia at such a critical juncture of history.

He said Pakistan had paid an unacceptably high price in Somalia with the death of 32 of its soldiers, but it had stood firm in solidarity with the international community for the achievement of the greater objective of the preservation of peace and security in Somalia. It would continue to support its Somalian brethren in their effort to initiate a process of reconstruction and rehabilitation in Somalia. He urged the Security Council to demonstrate its credibility by taking effective and positive steps to activate its role of mediation and arbitration in Somalia, and in all other places where disputes

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were taking a heavy toll of human life, property, honour and dignity. The most important of all those was the resolve of peoples to determine their future according to their own free will.

Continuing, he said, the maintenance of peace and security was the permanent responsibility of the United Nations. If peace broke down in one part of the world, it could not be cauterized by ignoring it. "The United Nations cannot afford to put serious problems on the back burner or on an autopilot", he said. It should not suspend its own mechanisms of good offices, arbitration or mediation, once the spotlight on a crisis was switched off. The Security Council and the elaborate apparatus of the United Nations should keep a sustained and sustainable interest and involvement in lingering and festering disputes.

HASSAN ABU-NIMAH (Jordan), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, said he believed that the ultimate responsibility for achieving a peaceful situation in Somalia fell primarily on the Somali people, leaders and factions. That, however, did not prevent the Council from seeking a way out of the deadlock in which the Somalis found themselves or from helping them to emerge from their extremely complex ordeal. Common ground for negotiations must be found in order to find a durable comprehensive political settlement in Somalia. Cooperation between the regional and international organizations would help to achieve that goal.

The Council should spare no effort as it explores the means to contact all parties within and out of Somalia to achieve a political settlement for Somali, he said. It should not permit the exploitation of any vacuum that occurred with the withdrawal of UNOSOM II. He supported the arms embargo. He also supported dispatch of a fact-finding mission to Somalia. He requested the Secretary-General to dispatch a special representative to find an effective option to bring peace to the territory.

NGONI FRANCIS SENGWE (Zimbabwe) said that the United Nations should maintain its fruitful endeavours in Somalia, so as to prevent a recurrence of the dire humanitarian situation that had prevailed in that country prior to the deployment of UNOSOM II in 1992. The Secretary-General should continue his quiet diplomacy with the OAU and with neighbouring States. If the United Nations was to maintain its image and credibility, it should steer clear of any appearance of maintaining double standards. The world community should never be left with the impression that the Organization was being directed by powerful Member States and, thus, would only become involved in those conflicts in which those powerful States were inextricably linked.

The United Nations could not impose peace on Somalia or any other country, he said. The Somali people and their political leaders, therefore, should pursue and establish sustained dialogue towards a lasting political

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solution. At the same time, the international community should recognize that the situation in Somalia was a threat to international peace and security.

PAUL C. MUKASA-SSALI (Uganda) said his Government supported the territorial integrity of Somalia and had participated in several attempts to find a peaceful settlement of the conflict through the medium of negotiation. He regretted that since the withdrawal of UNOSOM, the situation in Somalia was still so unpredictable that it was characterized by conflict, instability and lawlessness. His Government did not recognize any faction purporting to be a government in Somalia. He supported all efforts to promote national reconciliation, including those under the auspices of the OAU.

He said he was appalled by the rampant gangsterism prevailing in Somalia. He was equally concerned about the consequences of the closure of the Mogadishu air and sea ports, especially the effect that had had on the flow of humanitarian assistance and emergency aid. His Government was also concerned about the activities of foreign private entities that were abetting the flow of arms to Somalia. He supported the continuation of a total arms embargo on the Somali territory.

He supported the call to strengthen UNPOS and to eventually deploy it in Mogadishu when conditions permitted. Meanwhile, the Somali leaders must give up a little of their pride and rise to the occasion, so that the international community could help them out of a quagmire.

IBRAHIMA SY, observer for the Organization of African Unity, said that fighting had closed the borders of Somalia. In recent months, 600,000 Somalis had fled to other countries, with another 500,000 internally displaced. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), meanwhile, had assisted in the repatriation of some 100,000 people in recent months. The Council of Ministers of the OAU had considered the situation and had appealed to the Somali factions to refrain from any action which would plunge the country back into civil war. Somalia needed a broad-based government of national unity.

The humanitarian situation remained a source of concern, he continued. Regional food shortages had raised alarms. The OAU had requested the international community to note the grave situation and consider how it could come to Somalia's aid. The OAU fully supported the work of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia.

MANZI BAKURAMUTSA (Rwanda) congratulated responsible parties in Somalia for their efforts to achieve an agreement to form a national government. He said that just a few hours ago the international community was making solemn declarations in launching a special initiative on Africa. The international community must not forget that Somalia was not the only country in difficulty. Its problems were repeated in Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone and

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others. He hoped that the public debate on Somalia in the Council would not give those participating in it a sense of self-satisfaction. Rather, the Council and the Secretariat of the United Nations should reflect on the situation in which the Somalis and all the African victims found themselves through no fault of their own.

He denounced the minimalist attitude being adopted by the Organization. The withdrawal of UNOSOM II from Somalia had helped to increase chaos in that country. In Rwanda, the genocide was made possible by the withdrawal of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR). It had been proven that the victims who had been abandoned faced catastrophes from which they had difficulty withdrawing. Ultimately the Organization had to pay a heavy price. Despite official statements, the situation in Africa was being neglected. Nevertheless, it was the responsibility of the Somalis to find a solution to their problems. It was also true that all parties were ready for dialogue and had expressed the wish for the Organization to continue in the role of mediator and to facilitate negotiations.

What was the point of having the UNPOS headquarters in Nairobi? he asked. That was not useful for the Somalis or for the United Nations agencies in Somalia. No important initiatives had been taken by that Office since 1995. The presence of the UNPOS in Mogadishu would send a clear message to all the different factions in Somalia. The Somali leaders needed time to rise above the conflict and had requested the re-establishment of the Office in Mogadishu.

He appealed to the Council and the Secretariat to provide an opportunity for the Somalis to find a solution to their problems. The Council should establish contact with the Somali leaders to help them facilitate a dialogue. Humanitarian aid should be continued, keeping in mind that the achievement of a political solution was the most important task.

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For information media. Not an official record.