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Speedy financial support for Somalia vital to give peace a chance, UN warns

8 October 2009 – There is slow but notable progress towards stability in strife-torn Somalia, but international financial support for the transitional government is vital, with speed being the most critical element, the United Nations political chief said today.

“Money received today in Somalia will have far greater impact on stability than that which arrives in three months’ time,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe told the Security Council, adding that the “extremely generous pledges” of $200 million made earlier this year need to be fulfilled immediately.

He said he and Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Susanna Malcorra would meet with key donors tomorrow to assess the fulfilment of these pledges.

At the same time, he said, the humanitarian situation has “worsened dramatically” over the past three months due to intensified fighting in Mogadishu, the capital, growing insecurity in much of southern and central Somalia, and deepening drought.

Some 3.7 million people – or about 50 per cent of the population – are now in need of livelihood and humanitarian aid, up from 3.2 million in January.

Presenting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report, he noted that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) had overcome repeated attacks by foreign-funded and heavily armed groups, and that the African Union (AU) and its crucial peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, remained fully committed to bringing peace and stability to a country that has known little of either for the past two decades.

Beyond the international trust for financial support, he suggested that development partners start direct bilateral economic and financial cooperation with the TFG, and he stressed the “urgent need” to provide additional resources for AMISOM, which has some 5,200 troops stationed in Mogadishu, 65 per cent of its mandated strength of 8,000.

Craig Boyd, Director of the UN Support Office for AMISOM, told the Council that contributions to an AMISOM trust fund now stood at almost $25 million, 80 per cent of the total pledged, up from $15 million in July.

Mr. Boyd stressed growing UN services for the force, including the provision of a strategic communications network, increased freight shipping from Kenya, and the prompt arrangement of evacuation flights, ambulances and hospitalizations when AMISOM’s headquarters was attacked last month.

Mr. Pascoe noted that the UN and the international community supported the TFG’s openness to talks with all parties ready to commit to peace, and the world body is increasing the visits of senior political officials to Mogadishu.

He also praised the role of international navies in combating piracy, the bane of international shipping off Somalia’s coast, and stressed the need to cut off the source for the scourge. “It is critical that we strengthen the central Government and the regional authorities and help provide economic opportunities for fishing communities and other rural populations,” he said.

“After years of conflict, peace will not come to Somalia overnight,” he concluded of a country that has not had a functioning central government and has been riven by sectarian and clan factions since 1991.

“Stability must be promoted, national and external spoilers must be neutralized. Targeted sanctions can be one effective way to deal with the spoilers. At the same time, our approach must be flexible enough to allow those who have changed course and are now committed to peace to be removed from the sanctions list.”

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