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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Thursday 3 March 2005

SOMALIA: Strengthen arms embargo to improve security, Annan urges

NAIROBI, 3 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - The arms embargo against Somalia should be tightened because intermittent fighting, prevailing insecurity and violence have continued to hamper relief work in many areas of the country, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommended.

In his 18 February report to the UN Security Council on the situation in Somalia, the Secretary-General said reports had indicated "large-scale violations of the arms embargo, not only among extremist groups and militias, but also [by] some members of parliament".

"The enforcement of the arms embargo, with improved monitoring capacity and the establishment of enforcement measures would considerably enhance overall security," he added.

Violent crime remained common in the capital, Mogadishu, and occasional clan disputes had resulted in serious armed clashes with many casualties, the statement said, citing the 20 December murder of 17 people in a clan confrontation in Mogadishu.

The report noted that while for the most part, the security situation in the north had been quiet, continued confrontations between the semi-autonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland over control of the Sool and Sanaag regions remained a serious concern.

In Bay and Bakool regions, it added, violent disputes had led to the proliferation of checkpoints, which had limited the movement of aid agencies. It further stated that widespread inter-clan fighting and banditry continued to have a severe impact on southern and central Somalia.

The report noted, however, that the deployment of any foreign military force in Somalia would require an exemption from the arms embargo on Somalia. That notwithstanding, the Secretary-General called for "greater efforts to be made to enforce the arms embargo".

The UN would continue to support disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration efforts in the war-ravaged country, the report said, and would support the African Union in the planning of a protection force.

The Council imposed the arms embargo on Somalia in 1992. The conflict in Somalia dates back to 1989, when growing discontent with then-President Muhammad Siyad Barre's regime resulted in a civil war. Following the deposition of his regime in 1991, the country descended into even more intense periods of inter-clan warfare, and remained without a legitimate government for nearly a decade and a half.

In October 2004, a two-year peace process culminated in the swearing in of President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who formed a transitional federal government that is currently in the process of relocating from Nairobi, Kenya, to Somalia.


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