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.
PEACEKEEPERS FROM BORDER STATES BANNED
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.
The U.N. Security Council Resulution
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.
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.
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.
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.
humanitarian crisis of the Somali people, exhausted by years
of conflict and disaster, is now deepening," he said
in the statement.
now, some 350,000 people in Somalia, mostly in southern and
central areas of the country, have been seriously affected
by the floods.
worst-case scenario, up to 900,000 could be affected over
the coming weeks if persistent rains continue, the statement
said its financial appeal was meant to help provide water
and sanitation, food, education, health care and other assistance
in the country.
10 million U.S. dollars has already been funded through the
UN's Complex Emergency Response Fund mechanism.