afrol News, 1 November - The UN Security Council yesterday reaffirmed its commitment to the unity and territorial integrity of Somalia and to the Arta peace process, though it was admitted that the Mogadishu government could not even guarantee the security of UN staff in the capital.
- The Arta peace process remained the most viable basis for peace and national reconciliation in Somalia, the Security Council said in a presidential statement yesterday morning after having been presented a report by Secreatary-General Kofi Annan regarding the situation in the country.
The Arta peace process, boycotted by the self-declared independent republic of Somaliland, also calls for a united Somalia, thus countering Somaliland's independence. The UN Security Council put itself in line with recent statements by the Arab League and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
The Council urged the Transitional National Government in Mogadisho, political and traditional leaders, as well as factions, "to make every effort to complete the peace and reconciliation process through dialogue and involvement of all parties in a spirit of mutual accommodation and tolerance." It called on all parties "to refrain from actions that undermined the Arta peace process and emphasized the need to achieve local political settlements, as well."
The Council further emphasisised the necessity for "efforts against international terrorism" and welcomed the stated intention of the Transitional National Government to "take steps in this regard".
When the Security Council met, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Somalia. The report covers the period since the last report of 19 December 2000, and reviews political developments and the security situation. It also presents an overall picture of the humanitarian situation and the humanitarian assistance activities of United Nations agencies and their partners, as well as the Secretary-General's observations on establishing a United Nations post-conflict peace-building presence in Somalia.
The most viable option for lasting peace in Somalia is completion of the Arta, Djibouti, peace process, the Secretary-General says. A key role for the international community is to support the peace process, the establishment of the rule of law, and the emergence of impartial national political and judicial institutions.
The security situation, however, still does not allow him to recommend the deployment of a post-conflict peace-building mission in Somalia. The seaport and airport remain closed and no single authority in the country can assure security and unimpeded access to the United Nations, even in Mogadishu. The Secretary-General will continue to monitor the situation and when it improves enough to allow for the establishment of such a mission, he will submit a detailed proposal to the Council.
Recalling that there has been no central administration of any description in Somalia for the past 10 years, he says that the Transitional National Government (TNG) inherited none of the formal institutions of a modern State. Both the TNG and the Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council, formed by opposition faction leaders, claim to be national, multi-clan alliances. Both have stated that they wish to pursue national reconciliation. Since neither seems to disagree on any major political issue, the differences ought not to be irreconcilable, the report states.
The Secretary-General stresses that local political settlements deserved more attention. "Nevertheless, disputes that often appear to be purely local cannot be solved by local actors alone. Thus, the process of rebuilding national institutions should go forward, alongside strong and impartial efforts at local reconciliation."
The Secretary-General calls on Somali leaders "to put aside their narrow interests and work together to achieve the return of their country to peace, stability and overall normalcy." In that context, it would be important for the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to put in place the mechanism for negotiation agreed upon at the Khartoum Summit in November 2000.
The Secretary-General continues to be concerned about the human rights situation in Somalia, the report states. Despite the efforts of United Nations and other humanitarian and development agencies, "large sections of the Somali population continue to suffer from the internal conflict and its consequences, with little hope of improvement in their living conditions."
Moreover, the unfavourable security conditions in the country continue to impede the United Nations and its humanitarian and development partners from providing assistance to those in need. The Secretary-General reiterates his call to potential donors to respond generously to the consolidated appeals process and contribute to ongoing and future development programmes.
In reviewing the internal political situation, the Secretary-General states that a group, including faction leaders who stayed away from the Arta Conference and others who participated but later denounced it, gathered in El-Berde (on the Somalia-Ethiopia border) in mid-January and later in Awasa.
According to Ethiopian officials, the objective of the meetings was to agree on a common platform to facilitate discussions with the TNG. TNG leaders saw the meeting in Awasa as part of an Ethiopian plan to undermine the TNG.
The faction leaders announced they had reached a number of agreements that would result in the reconstitution of Somalia. They later announced the formation of the Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council. Its aim would be to hold an all-inclusive national reconciliation conference to form a representative Transitional Government of National Unity. The meeting is now scheduled to take place late in 2002.
Regarding the humanitarian and development situation, the report says that in 2000 conditions across Somalia improved significantly due to positive environmental conditions and good harvests. However, the gains have been insufficient to break the seasonal cycle for poor and middle-income households.
An estimated 750,000 people are in need of international assistance to cover food shortfalls due to past harvest failure, the report continues. Environmental factors, while important, disguise the underlying reasons for vulnerability of at least one quarter of the Somali population to threats of violence, displacement, disease and lack of food and water.