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UN council backs African peacekeepers for Somalia


UNITED NATIONS, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday endorsed African peacekeepers to help prop up the interim government in chaotic Somalia but also urged the authorities to pursue peace talks with their Islamist rivals.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-nation council said Somalia's transitional federal government offered "the only route to achieving peace and stability" in the northeast African nation that has been without an effective central government since 1991.

But the measure, drafted by the United States, also stressed the need for "an inclusive political process" and an eventual withdrawal of all foreign forces from Somalia.

John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called the text a preventive measure to keep the situation in Somalia from deteriorating further.

"It may not be a complete solution to the problem. That is one reason why we have encouraged the mediation of various parties and to have all the Somali factions talk with one another. I think that is basic," Bolton said.

Idd Beddel Mohamed, Somalia's deputy U.N. ambassador representing the interim government, thanked the council for its action and said his government would talk with the Islamists if they stopping seeking military gains and helped ensure Somalia "shall not become a haven for international terrorism."

Tensions have risen in Somalia since June when Islamist fighters took over the capital Mogadishu from U.S.-backed warlords and moved on to seize territory from the interim authorities now isolated in the small southern town of Baidoa.

Washington says they are harboring al Qaeda operatives who threaten the region and elsewhere.

A U.N. monitoring group reported last month that Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Uganda and Yemen were all providing military support to the authorities or the Islamists, in violation of a 1992 U.N. arms embargo.


Fears that foreign involvement in Somalia could spark a regional war have also grown amid reports that arch foes Eritrea and Ethiopia could use the country as a proxy battleground, with Eritrea backing the Islamists and Ethiopia the government.

Washington agreed to a provision in the resolution barring peacekeepers from bordering states like Ethiopia after Addis Ababa sent troops across the border and Asmara shipped in arms and flew hundreds of Islamist fighters to Eritrea for training, according to U.N. monitors.

The Horn of Africa neighbors fought a 1998-2000 border war that killed 70,000 people.

Security experts and diplomats estimate 5,000 to 10,000 Ethiopian soldiers are in Somalia to prop up the government. Both Ethiopia and Eritrea deny having troops in the country.

The African Union and regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, which brokered the installation of Somalia's shaky transitional government in 2004, have long been pushing for regional peacekeepers to support it.

But Security Council approval was required to do so. Now it is up to the AU and IGAD to decide on funding, the number of troops and when to deploy them.

The resolution endorses the IGAD-AU proposal but goes further by pushing for a resolution of the conflict through negotiations between the government and Islamists.

It also formally eases the already widely ignored arms embargo on Somalia to enable the peacekeepers to legally bring in arms and train and equip local security forces.

It authorizes the African force to ensure security in Baidoa and protect interim government officials, but also urges the Islamists to stop trying for military gains and to reject extremists and those linked to "international terrorism."

In addition it threatens unspecified measures against anyone trying to block peace or oust the interim authorities.

Read The U.N. Security Council Resulution


UN launches appeal for Somalia flood relief

GENEVA (Xinhua) -- The United Nations launched an appeal on Wednesday for 18 million U.S. dollars to help hundreds of thousands of Somali people affected by floods and in acute need for assistance.

Somalia, one of the world's poorest countries, has been hit by the worst flooding in recent history, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement.

Floods have displaced entire communities, submerged villages, destroyed granaries, cut off feeder roads, blocked or damaged irrigation and flood relief infrastructures and destroyed thousands of hectares of farmland in the country, the statement said.

Eric Laroche, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said the flooding added to the woes of the country, which had been plagued by 16 years of civil war, the absence of an effective central government, basic services or infrastructures, as well as a devastating drought last year.

"The humanitarian crisis of the Somali people, exhausted by years of conflict and disaster, is now deepening," he said in the statement.

Up to now, some 350,000 people in Somalia, mostly in southern and central areas of the country, have been seriously affected by the floods.

In the worst-case scenario, up to 900,000 could be affected over the coming weeks if persistent rains continue, the statement said.

The UN said its financial appeal was meant to help provide water and sanitation, food, education, health care and other assistance in the country.

Another 10 million U.S. dollars has already been funded through the UN's Complex Emergency Response Fund mechanism.

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Somali Sports & Cultural Association (SOSCA) Invites You - Black History Month Waraysigii Raisul Wasaraha jamhuuriyadda Somalia Prof. Cali Maxamed Geedi Profile: Ali Mohamed Ghedi r Waraysi - Shariif Xasan - Gudoomiyaha baarlamaanka Somaliya.
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