Source: unic.org

With less than two years to go before the end of the transition period in Somalia, a top United Nations official today stressed the need to consolidate the fragile peace in the Horn of Africa nation, which has witnessed numerous recent attacks and an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Current peace and reconciliation efforts in the country are based on the 2008 Djibouti Peace Agreement, under which former adversaries are participating in an internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG)

“Concerted regional and international support and assistance are required at this very critical stage of the peace process if the TFG is to play the role envisaged by the Djibouti Agreement,” Augustine P. Mahiga, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, told the Security Council.

He noted that there are several tasks to be accomplished before the end of the transition in August 2011. These include continuing the initiatives on reconciliation, building civilian and security institutions and the completion of the constitution-making process.

“I have urged the TFG to reach out to more opposition groups, expand the political process and focus on delivering basic services to the people,” said Mr. Mahiga, who took up the post of UN envoy for Somalia in June.

“In this context, the TFG must develop a road map of achievable objectives and clear timelines to be developed for the remaining transitional period.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his latest report on Somalia, called on the war-torn nation's transitional authorities to end internal squabbles that are hampering key tasks.

“As Somalia's transition period approaches its end, I am concerned that the transitional agenda remains largely unfulfilled,” Mr. Ban wrote. “Unity within the Transitional Federal Institutions remains critical for confidence-building among Somalis and the international community. Now is the time for the Transitional Federal Institutions to show determination to complete the transitional tasks.”

Violence in the capital, Mogadishu, alone has led to some 3,000 conflict-related casualties so far this year and uprooted around 200,000 people from the city, which has been the scene of ongoing clashes between Government troops and Islamist militant groups, including Al-Shabaab.

Recent weeks have witnessed increasing attacks on civilians and against the over 5,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), resulting in a number of deaths and injuries. The country is also beset by a dire humanitarian crisis with 3.2 million people, more than 40 per cent of the population in need of aid – 1.4 million of them internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Mr. Mahiga called on the TFG and the international community to show “heightened political resolve” to preserve and expand the fragile peace ushered in by the Djibouti Agreement.

In addition, he appealed to Member States to move toward practical actions to support Somalia, including in financial and material support for AMISOM.

“It is not the number of initiatives for Somalia that is in deficit, but concrete and practical actions on the ground,” he noted.

“As we all realize the dangerous conditions in which the TFG and AMISOM troops operate under, I appeal to all Member States to move from the usual political commitments, to more practical actions.”

The envoy also requested and encouraged the Council to remain engaged and seized with the situation in Somalia which, he noted, unlike many African conflicts, has multiple threats to international peace and security – a protracted civil war, international terrorism, international piracy and international trafficking.

“Experience in Somalia has shown that the more delayed or inadequate the response is, the more complex the crisis becomes. We have to act in a comprehensive manner to address these complex challenges.”