From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Thu Nov 13 2008 - 05:59:04 EST
Britain drafts new UN Somalia sanctions: diplomats
Thu 13 Nov 2008, 5:55 GMT
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain has circulated a draft resolution that would impose new U.N. sanctions on anyone contributing to violence and instability in Somalia, U.N. Security Council diplomats told Reuters on Wednesday.
The draft resolution, distributed to the 15 members of the Security Council, calls for asset freezes and travel bans for anyone engaging in or supporting violence in Somalia, including individuals or companies that violate a 1992 U.N. arms embargo against the lawless Horn of Africa country.
The resolution, obtained by Reuters, also targets anyone "obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Somalia." Several Western council diplomats said they hoped the resolution would be approved next week.
"The idea is to increase the pressure on those responsible for undermining stability in Somalia," a Western diplomat told Reuters.
The situation in Somalia has grown steadily worse this year. Assassinations, kidnappings and attacks on aid workers have been rife amid an Islamist insurgency against the government and its Ethiopian military allies.
Suspicion for attacks generally falls on clan militia or Islamist militants, though rebel leaders have said the interim government is behind the killings to discredit them and stir the international community to intervene.
Somalia's transitional government has repeatedly called on the Security Council to send U.N. peacekeepers to take over from the African Union, which has 3,000 troops in Somalia but has said it is not up to the task.
The council has asked the U.N. secretariat to prepare possible scenarios for sending peacekeepers to Somalia, but council diplomats and U.N. officials say privately that the situation is far too dangerous for U.N. troops.
Violence in Somalia has killed nearly 10,000 civilians since the start of last year and forced more than a million from their homes, triggering an aid crisis and driving governments in the region and donor nations to despair.
The draft resolution also has the council reiterating its concern about piracy off the coast of Somalia, which has made the sea lane linking the Middle East Gulf and Asia to Europe and beyond via the Suez Canal one of the world's most dangerous.
Ten European Union nations said on Monday they would contribute to an EU operation that would deploy an air and naval force to guard the busy channel.
The operation is due to be launched next month and is expected to involve four to six ships at any given time, as well as several maritime surveillance aircraft.
© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.
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