By United Nations

20 January - Soldiers from Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the African Union peacekeeping mission that is trying to stabilize the conflict-wracked country need urgent funding to continue their operations, a senior United Nations envoy warned today.

“I should take this opportunity to inform that the [UN] Trust Fund for paying both AMISOM and TFG soldiers is at its lowest,” UN Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga told a meeting of the Joint Security Committee (JSC) of Somali officials and interested partners in neighbouring Djibouti, referring to the AU mission by its acronym.

Mr. Mahiga made a similar plea in his briefing to the Security Council last week when he called for international financial and other support to help the UN-backed AMISOM regain full control of Mogadishu, the embattled capital, from Al-Shabaab and other Islamist groups. These control much of southern Somalia, a country that saw its last functioning central government fall in 1991 and has been torn apart by factional fighting ever since.

The Council has already authorized a 50 per cent increase in AMISOM's strength from 8,000 to 12,000 troops.

The JSC was set up two years ago under agreements between the TFG and some Islamist groups to strengthen the Government's security capacity. Its members include senior representatives of the TFG security institutions, AMISOM, the UN, the international community including the European Union and Arab League, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and United States.

At today's meeting Somali Deputy Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali highlighted the importance of the JSC for the cardinal objective of stabilizing security. Mr. Mahiga stressed that security strategies must be geared towards enabling the Government to achieve its key political objectives of expanding its political base, reconciliation and facilitating consultations on a constitution.

The Djibouti Agreement, a UN-facilitated peace process that began in 2008 and has been joined by one of the rebel groups, seeks to bring other factions, apart from diehard Islamist opponents like the Al-Shabaab leadership, into a coalition, and Mr. Mahiga stressed the need to make the Somali Security Force an all-inclusive entity including all stakeholders.

“We need to make the Somali security forces more representative of the Somali population with the participation of all clans and communities,” he said, a view echoed by AMISOM chief Bourbacar Diarra.