Somalia calls for deployment of peacekeepers

July 24th, 2008 - 3:51 am ICT by IANS  

New York, July 24 (DPA) Somalia called on the UN Security Council Wednesday to deploy an international peacekeeping force without delay in order to put an end to its 17-year-old civil war. It asked for a much smaller force than the previously proposed operation of 26,000 military and civilian personnel, and for proper funding so the force can do a “good job under reasonable circumstances”.

“We want to be on the record in reiterating our resolve to do all we can to provide a climate conducive to the deployment and proper functioning of a stabilizing force,” Somali Foreign Minister Ali Jama Jengeli told the 15-nation council in a public meeting.

The African mission in Somalia is currently supported by 2,600 troops from Uganda and Burundi. But African diplomats said the UN should take over and other countries should contribute to increase it to 8,000, which is the ceiling being considered by the UN.

Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, the commissioner for peace and security of the African Union, said the AU supports a peacekeeping force of 8,000 troops in Somalia and has called on African countries to send a new generation of military personnel to assist Somalia.

Lamamra said the calls for beefing up the peacekeeping force in Somalia, including a naval force, were prompted by the fact that Somali parties are committed to key proposals, including the restoration of mutual trust and confidence, “with the objective of ending the conflict”.

He said the African mission suffered severe lack of funding and logistic support.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the council that the situation in Somalia remains a challenge for the international community. But developments related to the peace process gave reasons for a better improvement in the conflict situation.

“As we make progress on the political front, plans for an appropriate security arrangement must be in place to support the relocation of the UN to Somalia and the deployment of an international stabilization force,” Ban said.

Because of insecurity, the UN had kept its mission in Nairobi, but has lately moved some personnel back to Somalia.

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