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Alongside political progress, Somalia needs action on security - UN envoy

20 March 2008 – The top United Nations envoy in Somalia, where the new reconciliation strategy of the transitional Government has garnered wide support, today called on the Security Council to promote complementary action on security in the country, long beset by chaos.

“Today we have some progress on the political front with the Government Reconciliation Plan,” Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to the country, told the 15-member body.

“As the two tracks should advance together and reinforce each other, there is a need for similar action on the security front,” he said, adding: “Acting only on one of them is like limping on one leg.”

The reconciliation plan, which involves local peacemaking inside the country and talks with the external opposition, has evinced a positive reaction from several Somali groups, including the influential Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, Mr. Ould-Abdallah said.

In addition, he said that the transitional authority of Somalia, which has not had a functional government for 17 years, had become more effective in its composition as well as its return to the country’s capital, Mogadishu, in January.

He said that among the security possibilities now being studied, a strong multinational presence should be seriously considered, and more should be done to protect ships carrying humanitarian assistance.

He added that, for UN work to be truly credible, it needs to deploy many more international staff in the country, and make sure that there is no impunity for “warlords, extremists and spoilers” who have carried out war crimes against humanity.

Most importantly, Somali must be released from being a “prisoner of the past,” because of the violent actions carried out against the international community in the 1990s, and its long-suffering people must have the protection they need.

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet also briefed the Council, discussing the work of a fact-finding mission that visited Somalia in January.

He said that the security situation in many parts of Somalia, and particularly Mogadishu, remains complex, volatile and unpredictable, describing four possible scenarios that could lead to the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force.

In recent months, Somalia has been wracked by violence which has displaced around one million people and has caused some three million others to flee the country as refugees.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says there are up to two million vulnerable people in need of humanitarian aid within Somalia. In addition, aid workers face difficulties and the transport and delivery of crucial items such as food is being impeded by roadblocks, taxes and banditry.

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