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Arms traders circumvent Security Council's embargo against Somalia - UN report

14 March 2005 Despite a weapons embargo against Somali militias, they continue to receive arms and to train fighters, leading to "a seriously elevated level of threat of violence against the peaceful establishment in Somalia of the Transitional Federal Government," the UN Monitoring Group on the Horn of Africa country says.

In a report to the Security Council, the four-member Group says it uncovered "34 individual arms shipments or violations of the arms embargo from February 2004 to the time of writing the present report," about a month ago, showing that violations had continued "at a brisk and alarming rate.

"The shipments ranged in size from an individual weapon, such as a large and expensive anti-aircraft gun to ocean freight containers full of arms, ranging from explosives and ammunition to small arms, mine and anti-tank weapons," it says.

Additionally, the Bakaarah arms market in Somalia and "the neighbouring Gulf State" are major sources of arms used in violent clashes and most weapons come by ocean and road.

The Transitional Federal Government is primarily based in Kenya and has sought to return home.

Organized criminal groups involved in the clandestine movement of arms from source to recipient have circumvented the customs and police of the States responsible for interdicting illegal shipments, adding that "another arms market, located in Yemen, operates in conjunction with the Bakaarah market." The Group recommends that customs authorities in the region establish a mechanism to share information and best practices.

In a confidential report to the Council, the Group says, it has provided the names of people responsible for the illicit arms trade, but in the public document it identifies them only as "Businessman and minister in the Transitional Federal Government," "Principal al-Ittihad leader in overall charge of training camps," or "Businesswoman/warlord."

International and regional support should be provided to the Transitional Federal Government to regulate or stop sales in the Bakaarah arms market and responsibility for Somali airspace should rest with the Civil Aviation Caretaker Authority for Somalia "until the political issues surrounding the entire Somali airspace are resolved," the Monitoring Group says.

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