UN deliberating possible ‘light presence’ in Somali capital
9 August - With the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia nearing its full
capacity, the United Nation is now “seriously considering” the second of its three-part
strategy in which the world body would have a light presence in the capital, Mogadishu,
and other parts of the war-ravaged country, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
AMISOM, the mission, is close to reaching the target of 8,000 authorized personnel, as
mandated by the Security Council, which is part of the first phase envisioned by Mr. Ban.
That stage also includes helping build the capacity of the Transitional Federal Government
(TFG) and training Somali troops and police.
Before Augustine Mahiga, who recently took up the post of the Secretary-General's Special Representative, departed for Nairobi, Mr. Ban said the two men held discussions on the second phase, in which some UN personnel would be relocated to Mogadishu and other areas in Somalia.
The UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), headed by Mr. Mahiga, has been based in Nairobi due to security concerns.
“At this time, [Mr. Mahiga] will take all necessary measures [for] staffing and to ensure safety,” the Secretary-General told reporters in New York, adding that his envoy will have to coordinate closely with the UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS).
Mr. Mahiga's predecessor, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, told the Security Council last year that “our temporary presence in Nairobi has lasted far too long. We can only work effectively for peace with the Somalis and address pressing humanitarian needs if we are close to the victims of famine, violence and different abuses.”
He noted that the establishment in Mogadishu of a so-called Green Zone, similar to those elsewhere, could help facilitatethis process.
In a related development, the latest meeting of the Joint Security Committee (JSC), comprising Somali officials and interested partners, wrapped up yesterday in Nairobi, with participants welcoming AMISOM's renewed commitment to mentoring TFG forces.
The meeting, chaired by Mr. Mahiga and Somali Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, also ended with a recommendation that the international community gradually move its offices back to Mogadishu.