Thursday, December 20, 2007

UN Council urges more support for AU in Somalia

By Claudia Parsons
UNITED NATIONS, (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council called on Wednesday for more funds for a hard-pressed African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia and asked the U.N. secretary-general to keep planning for a U.N. force there.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said last month Somalia was too dangerous even to send an assessment team to prepare for a U.N. peacekeeping force.

U.N. officials say half the population of Mogadishu, or 600,000 people, have fled persistent fighting since Somalia's transitional government came to power after ousting militant Islamists early this year.

The Somali government has long urged the United Nations to send peacekeepers. The AU force, known as AMISOM, is supposed to number some 8,000 troops but only around 1,600 Ugandans have actually arrived.

The Security Council issued a statement after talks on Somalia on Wednesday reiterating its backing for AMISOM.

"(It) urges again the international community to provide financial resources, personnel, equipment and services for the full deployment of AMISOM," it said.

The council also asked Ban to continue to develop existing contingency plans for a possible U.N. deployment and asked him to report back on progress by Feb. 8.

The statement welcomed a briefing this week by Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, U.N. special envoy for Somalia, who called for a new strategy from the international community to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa state.

Ould-Abdallah said Saudi Arabia should be asked to lead a new drive to reinforce the AU peacekeeping force, though not necessarily with its own troops. Such a force, including Asian or Middle Eastern troops, could be an interim step before a U.N. peacekeeping force could be deployed.

"The Security Council looks forward to hearing more details of (his) proposals," the statement said, adding that it strongly supported Ould-Abdallah's work in Somalia. (Editing by by Sandra Maler)

Source: Reuters

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