Good Company

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Somalia seeks UN peacekeepers

Reuters article here:
Somalia urgently needs international peacekeepers to enable its fledgling government to function properly and help train its own security forces, the country's foreign minister said on Saturday.

The East African nation has been without central government since 1991 and remains a patchwork of fiefdoms ruled by rival warlords. An interim administration formed in neighbouring Kenya returned last year but has limited control over the country.

"The security situation in Somalia is still precarious," Foreign Minister Abdullahi Sheekh Ismail told Reuters on the sidelines of an African Union (AU) meeting in Sudan.

"There is a great need for the international community and the region to take into account Somalia's call for the deployment of a peace and stabilisation mission until we manage to put in place our security forces," he said.

Somalia collapsed into chaos after the overthrow of military ruler Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991, and conflict and famine have killed hundreds of thousands of people since then.

President Abdullahi Yusuf's government -- the 14th attempt at effective administration in almost as many years -- has had to settle in a provincial town, Jowhar, because of security concerns in the capital Mogadishu.

Some East African states have said they would be willing to contribute peacekeepers but Somali officials say the United Nations would need to lift an arms embargo before any foreign soldiers could be deployed.

"There is an overall general agreement by all continental and regional actors to come to our help. From here on we will be moving towards the U.N. Security Council to request them to lift the arms embargo," Ismail said...

...Previous foreign peacekeeping missions in Somalia have ended disastrously. The United States sent troops in 1992 ahead of a U.N. force but left two years later after tough resistance from warlords, including a 1993 clash which killed 18 U.S. soldiers.

"Somalia has been ignored by the big nations after the U.S. failure. The U.N. is embarrassed after the failure of its mission, that is why they do not want to get involved again," said Somali presidential envoy, Abdirashid Sed.

"At that time there was no Somali government. But now there is a Somali government and, as a member of the United Nations, it is asking for support from the international community."
Good luck with that.

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