Kevin J. Kelley, Special CorrespondentNew York
Somalia's United Nations representatives and the UN's special envoy for Somalia urgently appealed last week for international action on a growing threat to security throughout East Africa and the Horn.
"The Somali problem is no longer a Somali problem," said Idd Beddel Mohamed, Somalia's deputy UN ambassador.
Speaking at a UN headquarters news conference on November 8, the country's ambassador, Elmi Ahmed Duale, added, "There is now more urgency than before.
"The diplomats spoke days after a failed assassination attempt on Somalia Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi and a pirate attack on a cruise liner in the Indian Ocean near Somalia's coast.
Francois Lonseny Fall, the special UN envoy for Somalia, underscored the need for action in remarks to the Security Council on November 9. Lonseny Fall said he told a closed meeting of the Council that "extremist groups were growing not only in Mogadishu (the capital) but in the rest of the territory.
"When you have a failed state like Somalia," Lonseny Fall continued, "when there's no authority, it gives opportunity to all the terrorist groups to grow. It happened in Afghanistan and the same thing can happen in Somalia. "The security of the entire region may be imperilled, he added.
The Security Council did unanimously adopt a resolution on November 9 condemning the attempted assassination of Somalia's prime minister and expressing "serious concern" over the spate of pirate attacks off Somalia's coast. The 15-member Council further condemned "the increased inflow of weapons into Somalia and the continuous violations of the United Nations arms embargo.
"Many observers say, however, that such rhetorical denunciations on the part of the international community are insufficient and ineffective. They note that UN member-states have taken no action to strengthen the Somalia arms embargo that has been in force for 13 years but is routinely violated.
A recent report by the UN's embargo monitoring group found that the number of major weapons transactions involving Somalia had increased by 350 per cent in the first eight months of 2005 in comparison with the same period last year. The monitors identified Yemen and Ethiopia as the source of some of the illicit arms shipments and also pointed to a third country that was not named in the report but that UN officials have identified as Eritrea.
The four-person, Kenya-based monitoring group which includes a Kenyan (Harjit Singh Kelley), an American, a Belgian and a Colombian had its mandate extended last week for another year.
Somalia's UN representatives are specifically seeking greater help from the African Union in establishing a coastal police force to combat piracy. Somalia itself lacks the resources to enforce the rule of law within its boundaries, said Deputy Ambassador Mohamed.
The Somalis and the special UN envoy also acknowledged the peacemaking efforts undertaken by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a seven-member grouping of East African states. Some Somali police officers are now being trained in Kenya and Uganda, which are both members of Igad, and UN officials say they intend to expand this initiative into Somalia itself.
A reporter attending a UN press briefing by special envoy Lonseny Fall asked whether Igad could indeed be considered helpful to Somalia when two of its members Ethiopia and Eritrea are arming various warlord factions in Somalia in violation of the UN embargo.
Lonseny Fall reiterated his praise for IGAD, noting that the group had initiated and facilitated the Somalia peace process. The Security Council had to find solutions to the problem of arms embargo violations, the envoy added.
Source: The East African
The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "the Center for Peace and Democracy in Somalia (CPD)"