Ban urges more troops, funding to help Somalia fight militants

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that more international troops may be needed to help Somalia’s transitional government as it battles Islamist militants.

 

 “On the military front, we must not exclude the incorporation of new forces and the expansion of AMISOM,” Ban told a U.N. Security Council meeting on the drought-stricken and strife-torn Horn of Africa nation.

 

 The African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM, currently has a U.N. mandate for up to 12,000 troops but the AU has demanded this be increased to 20,000.

 

Ban said the U.N. and the African force was reviewing its needs and would make a proposal to the council.

 

“In the meantime, I echo AU and AMISOM troop contributors and ask you to reconsider the financial and logistical arrangements for supporting AMISOM operations,” Ban added.

 

African states on the Security Council have made several pleas for the body to increase the mandated strength of the Somalia force and for extra financing.

 

While progress has been made against Al-Shabaab Islamist fighters, the major international powers have been reluctant to add to the force or increase funding while the government remains so precarious.

The U.N. agreed this year to extend the mandate of the transitional government until August 2012 to give it more time to agree a new constitution and elect a parliament.

 

“Despite some progress, important deadlines have been missed,” Ban said of the Mogadishu government.

 

 The U.N. secretary general added that he had “made clear” to the government when in Mogadishu that the transition must end next year. “In particular, I urged them to accelerate constitutional and parliamentary reforms – which do not require financial resources, but political will,” he said.

 

 Government forces with the aid of AMISOM and now Ethiopian and Kenyan forces have pushed Al-Shabaab out of most of Mogadishu and other parts of the country.

 

The U.N. also appealed Tuesday for $1.5 billion for 2012 to address the humanitarian crisis gripping millions of Somalis due to a harsh drought this year will persist for the coming months,

 

The U.N. declared six regions in southern Somalia famine zones earlier this year, and although it said last month that three regions were no longer facing famine, over half of Somalia’s 10 million people are in need of help.

 

 Source: daily Star